“The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.” – Dalai Lama
What is storytelling?
Storytelling is the act of telling a story – any story. It can be through spoken word, through written word, through art and through acting.
How does storytelling help us and your child with reading?
It expands our vocabulary
By telling stories your child listens to new words being pronounced. Your child hears words in new and known contexts.
When your child tells a story they are practising using new vocabulary.
Instead of asking them to write another boring sentence using a spelling word or sight word – ask them to tell a story instead! These words will come into the story very easily
It is interactive
When we tell stories we are engaging in eye contact with the storyteller and the listeners. We are using body language and facial expressions to engage others or show our interest. We can see how others feel about the story and change where the story is heading if we see our original ending not working for the current audience.
Storytelling promotes visualisation, inferencing and problem solving. It helps us to think on our feet and engage each audience we tell the story to in a different way.
It tells us a story
We all love stories and storytelling through close friends and family can tell tales of the past – rather than just relying on photos and videos. Most cultures passed on advice through storytelling and many still do – telling stories make those rules much easier to follow!
It uses our imagination – both the storyteller and the listener.
Children love being told stories. Some evenings make up a story together before going to bed rather than always only reading books. Borrow ideas from books you have read and make up your own! Your imagination can go wild being the listener or the storyteller and you can have so much fun doing both!
“The power of storytelling is exactly this: to bridge the gaps where everything else has crumbled.” – Paulo Coelho
Linking literacy to books is a passion of mine (as you may have guessed) but so is learning to read.
The early years of any child’s life and then formal education are vital for building a love of literacy. If we miss those years children struggle through many areas of their lives as reading is such a big part of it!
Here are some simple ways you can start to build phonemic awareness in a fun way which involves books. No worksheets. No writing. No repetition. Just books and conversations!
- When you look at the front cover read it out loud. Read the authors name, illustrators name and perhaps even the blurb. Ask your child if they can think of another name that starts with the same sound as the authors first name. Start with the initial letter but if you child can do it, blend the first two letters and find names with that sound.
- As you read look for pictures that might look like letters – this can be lots of fun and can be done as you drive in the car or go for a play outside!
- If your child is a keen writer – write down their favourite words or sounds from the book. Stick these words on the wall and they can copy them or even make them out of blocks or shapes when the time suits them.
- Make up your own story together – write it down if you like and illustrate.
- Don’t just focus on home readers – make sure your children are reading books they choose for pleasure.
- You don’t always need to read books – try comics or magazines, non-fiction and audio books! . Exposure to different forms of literacy opens their mind and encourages passion from an early age.
Let me know your thoughts!
Soon by Timothy Knapman and Patrick Benson is a beautiful story that highlights the importance of parenting and how we can build our children’s trust and confidence if we lead by example, care for them and show them what confidence is. ⠀
Raju the elephant and his mummy go on an adventure through rivers, forests and mountains but Raju always wants to know when he is going home. ⠀
“When can we go home again?”
It is only when he returns home that he can reflect and see how important that journey was and how much fun he had. His mother not only looked after him when there were dangers but also showed him the world around him so that he may want to be a part of it himself. ⠀
Soon warms your heart with the mother’s love for her son and her want to show him the world. ⠀
The story is easy to read and easy to listen to. Your child can follow the repetitive nature of the questioning by Raju and the approach the mother takes with each difficulty they come across.
How does this link to parenting?
We can’t wrap our children in paper bags so
- allow them to see the world
- protect them from dangers but let them know what is out there so they become caring global citizens.
- read to your children so they become aware of global issues in a nicer way as opposed to finding out on the news.
- inspire them
- lead by example. Do what you want the world to be. Use less plastic, respect animals and love the outdoors. We need more people in this world who care about the future for everyone – not just the now.
Sustainability and conservation
- Elephants need our protecting due to deforestation and hunting. Check where your products come from to ensure they do not support this!
- Elephants have been used by humans for many different activities. Create a timeline to show the relationship -both negative and positive – between humans and elephants.
- Do conservation groups really help elephants? Investigate different conservation groups and how they use their money.
When we go camping by Sally Sutton and illustrated by Cat Chapman is a rhythmical story that the youngest of readers will love. Rhyme incorporated with onomatopoeia provides a book that makes you want to move about, point to the pictures and possibly even pack your car for a family camping trip!
Zip petty zap petty flopp-io
Jumpy bumpy gigg-lio
When We Go Camping highlights all the wonderful things about camping – making friends, sleeping in a tent, helping out as a family and catching your own fish!
It also mentions the trials of camping – but we don’t need to worry too much about them when there is so much fun to be had boiling up the billy, splashing in the river and singing by the fire.
If you have a family member who is apprehensive about camping you need to read this book to them, it’s a gem!
How can I develop my child’s literacy and create a globally conscious child?
- RHYME – The three sentences on each page end in a rhyming word. Explore other words that rhyme with the final word.
- Start with a sentence: When we go fishing, When we go riding, When we go bushwalking, When we go running (Make sure the sentence has something to do with outdoor play). Children then create their three lined poem using rhyme.
- ONOMATOPOEIA: Explore the different uses of onomatopoeia throughout the story. How does it make you feel when you hear those words? Look back at the three lined sentence that has been created and now add some onomatopoeia to it.
- Plan a family camping trip or if you can’t do that an outside activity. Children learn so much when they play outside.
- Write a diary entry, recount over dinner about the activity. Talking and listening reinforces fun times and allows for more family interaction – embedding the importance of talk from a young age.
Two Summers by John Heffernan and Freya Blackwood is a moving and informative story told through the eyes of a young boy who lives on a farm through abundance and scarcity.
Nature rules the lives of so many whose livelihood depend on the great cycles of nature causing great joy and also great distress.
As most of the population live in cities and suburbs of those cities we really need to take the time to appreciate what goes on on those farms and how much weather patterns plays a role in what the farmers can and can’t do with produce and live stock.
The young boy in this story is waiting for his friend Rick to come and visit him again over summer and is making comparisons to last year when the river flowed, the green grass, the number of animals around and the extra time they have to put into the farm when the grass isn’t there for the animals to feed on. He hopes that perhaps Rick will bring some rain with him.
Two Summers is a beautifully written book with soft and emotive illustrations. You can feel the emotions of the family through their daily life on the farm and begin to understand what farming life is like when times are tough.
So how can you link this book with your children and family to make more meaning?
Geography: Taking a trip to the countryside is so important but if it can’t be done there are many local farms that are often within an hours drive of a major city.
Take some time to see where your food comes from and learn how the amount of rain, the fluctuations in temperature and the pressure from large multinationals plays a role on the lives of the people who provide food for us.
English: Look deeper into perspective – how would you feel if you lived on a farm? How does this boy feel?
Science: Look at the rainfall and temperatures of a large farming area where your food comes from. How do you think this climate effects produce?
If worms are underground farmers what are the underwater farmers?
How does an animal survive without a sense? Investigate different creatures that can live without one of the senses we feel we must have.
List some other animals that are deemed as ‘yucky’ and find out why. Is there a way to raise their profile?
Have you ever wondered if you chop a worm in half will it just grow a new head and keep on wriggling on? Or why people refer to worms as underground farmers?
Well, look no further than Yucky Worms by Vivian French! Delicately illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg, Yucky worms is an informative story told by a gardening grandmother to her inquisitive grandson.
Perhaps many of us have reacted to worms in the garden as yucky, disgusting, slimy or dirty (which they can be) but without them, as you will discover in the story, we would not have the fertile soil that we need to grow fruits, flowers and vegetables.
As you read through Yucky worms (published by Candlewick press) readers young and old can learn about worm anatomy, eating habits, habitat and how they survive in different situations through story, labelled diagrams and funny worm conversations!
So how can you use this story to inspire some worm loving?
- Create a large worm diagram and label it using your own words. Investigate worm life cycles, diet, habitat and anatomy.
- Buy or make a worm farm!
- Investigate worm farms – how do they work? What do worms need to eat? What can kill the worm farm worms? What can they live without? What can’t they live without?
- Is there anywhere in the world where worms cannot live?
- Is there anywhere in the world where worms do not want to live due to human acitivity?
- If you were a worm what would you enjoy doing the most?
- Many people on the dance floor think they can do a move called the worm but can worms really dance? And, is that move doing worm bristles and muscular movement justice?
- Write an ode to the worm.
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors we borrow it from our children
– Chief seattle.
Welcome Home by Christina Booth is a story of a young boy who can hear whales singing when no one else does. He hears sounds of joy and sadness and listens to stories she tells while he is asleep.
The whale tells of fear and darkness in tales of whaling of the past.
Why did they hurt us and chase us away?
The illustrations illuminate this fear and emptiness and make you wonder why whaling was such a sport.
The whale tells the young boy that she wanted to come home but they do not feel safe –
Sorry – the boy whispers.
The journey the reader embarks on is one of critical thought – why did people go whaling? How has this sport impacted the ocean? How can activities we take part in today impact the future?
Although whaling and the issues that surround it can come across quite strongly – this picture book approaches the dark past in a more gentle manner allowing children to explore the issue without feeling fear or guilt but rather a sense of empowerment.
Welcome Home was inspired but the birth of a whale calf in the Derwent river in 2010 – the first for over 190 years. It is a beautiful read and one that needs to be read to the future.
So where to from here:
- How do actions we take every day impact the future?
- Do people have a right to hunt whales today? Explore the pros and cons of whaling as you try to understand why some countries still whale. Look at whaling from their perspective and see how you could change their mind using their perspective on whales.
- Create a story about an action in the past that has impacted our current environment in a negative way? Create this story so that readers can learn from this mistake.
- How are we connected to whales? Do we need whales for our ecosystem to survive? Look at life cycle charts and food chains to explore this question.
- Investigate the whale numbers around the world and compare to previous years. How are the numbers changing?
- Look at the different shapes of whales and the patterns of symmetry.
- Whales can have barnacles living on them. Which species have this? How many barnacles could fit on a whale?
- Storytelling is an important gift that we all have. What would the world be like without storytelling? Can you think of what your life would look like without stories?
- Write a letter, create a magazine advertisement that implores people to think about whaling and the horrific side effects. Great way to use persuasive and emotive language.
- The whale told this story to the young boy – could this story be told to an adult? How would the story be different.
- Explore personification used throughout the story: Tugs at my heart, the moon danced on the waves. How does this language make you feel?