Children love to hear stories. Stories are ways that you reflect on your day at bedtime, the memories you share about your childhood, the anecdotes you tell about your special moments together. When you tell stories drawn from your own imagination, you show your child how to tap into his own experiences and imaginative worlds to bring ideas to life. Here are just a few of the ways that telling stories to your child enrich his life:
- Stories help tune your child's ear to language and its wonderful possibilities. The world of stories is the gateway to the written word. A child attuned to stories has developed habits of listening that will ease her transition to books — and whet her appetite for the joys of learning to read.
- By telling a story, you are introducing your child to the pleasures of narrative — to hearing about interesting characters and events, and what comes first, and then what, and how it all comes together. You can retell favorite fairy tales or a favorite book in your own words, or tell the stories you loved to hear from your parents or grandparents.
It’s also important to have your child tell you stories. To get them started, try the following tips:
- After you read a book together, invite your child to retell the story in his own words and in his own way. Use sound effects in stories like "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" or "The Three Little Pigs." Children will delight in retelling the story in dialogue, sometimes re-imagining it by introducing new characters or coming up with whole new endings.
- Encourage your child to tell stories about her daily activities. The easiest way to start is to recall a favorite experience: "Remember what happened when we visited the zoo?" you might ask, and then turn it over to her to finish what happened.
- Another easy way to get started is to go through a photo album and use it as a launching point to tell a story. Encourage your child to find pictures he wants to hear more about, and then tell a story about them. Then engage him in retelling one to you.
Beyond the sheer enjoyment it offers, telling stories creates a special closeness between family members that imbues your child with a deep understanding and appreciation of narrative language. This will be critical to her understanding of books and stories in print.