Reading aloud is key to building a kid’s language skills — but telling tales about your own life helps, too. Studies show that hearing a parent’s personal stories also boosts children’s resilience, self-esteem, and self-control — and helps them feel closer to kin. “Family stories give kids a sense of who they are and where they came from,” says Meg Lippert, Ed.D., director of storytelling for Learn with Homer, a reading app. With her tips, you’ll be spinning yarns in no time:
Flip through photo albums. Your child will love learning that he was born with a full head of downy hair or how you won your school’s spelling bee with the word “knuckle.”
Engage your listener. Work imaginations by making sound effects and describing tastes, textures, and scents (“My nana’s pea soup smelled like old socks!”).
Talk about tough times, too. Just be sure to highlight the positives about, say, the year Grandpa lost his job (like how he taught himself to bake his famous-to-this-day homemade bread).
Avoid preaching. Let your kid figure out the message rather than ending the story about the time you talked back to your third grade teacher with, “And that’s how I learned to stop being a smart aleck!”