Making Storytime Magical and Memorable: Tips for Families from Barefoot Books

We thought this guest blog post from Barefoot Books is timely now that we are all spending more time indoors.  Also, library storytimes are starting up again.  Many of these tips can be applied to how you share storytime with your child away from home as well.  Enjoy!

Storytime offers a perfect opportunity for family bonding at its best, while helping children to develop essential literacy and cognitive skills, spark their imaginations, and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime. Here are some simple ways families can make storytime a magical part of the day, everyday:

  • Ask your child for suggestions about what books to read. Suggest some of your own favorites from when you were a child. Don’t forget about classic tales and adventures, such as myths and legends about knights and castles.  You can also choose to read bi-lingual stories, or stories from different cultures as a way for children to experience different languages and cultures.
  • Don’t feel like you have to read an entire book. Reading one chapter a night at bedtime or even a few pages at a time will keep your child engaged and excited for the next storytime with you.
  • Reading time doesn’t have to be at bedtime. Consider other times of the day when you can read together.  Some families enjoy reading with their children early in the morning as a special way to start the day.
  • Keep your child engaged. Ask questions along the way. Point out words that might be new to their vocabulary and talk about how the words are used and what they mean. Are there far-off lands that are featured in the book? Find them on a map together. Ask questions that evoke emotion and reflective inquiry, such as, “What would you do in this situation?” “Why do you think the character behaved in that way?” “Have you ever encountered a similar situation?” “Who does the character remind you of?” “How does the character feel?”
  • Read along together. If you have an experienced reader, ask them to read a page aloud and then you read a page. Children of all ages enjoy being read to.  Sharing the story in this way will help you discover new things about each other and elicit dialog.
  • Be creative! Storytime is a time to let true personalities shine! Using different voices for each character, or acting out parts of the story can make story time even more memorable and enjoyable for you and your child.
  • Find a special location for storytime. Under the trees in the evening with a blanket and flashlight; swaying on a hammock; cuddled up on the favorite couch; at the breakfast table; sitting on the front step watching the world go by…the locations can be just as unique as the stories themselves.
  • The story doesn’t have to end on the last page. Look for creative ways to extend the learning of the book. Some ways to do this may be listening to music that is in some way related to the story, researching recipes from where the story is located and cooking them together, acting out the story with your child and some of their friends, writing a sequel to the story together, etc.
  • Keep a storytime journal together: Note the book or story shared, the date, the reactions of the family members. Younger children may wish to draw a picture representing the book. Older children can help complete the journal entry. The journal will become a beautiful memory piece as time goes on to look back on all of the stories shared together.
  • Take pictures! There is nothing sweeter than family pictures curled up listening to stories together. You can use these pictures to illustrate the passage of time as family members grow, tastes in books evolve, the books become longer as the children grow older, etc.

We hope you find these tips useful as you discover your own ways to bond with your child through sharing timeless stories.

Editor’s Note:  Thanks Barefoot Books for sharing!  And to our readers, Barefoot Books’ Winter Sale is going on now through February 8 – up to 60% off!  Also, key word search “Barefoot” on Ziptivity.com to find all the wonderful, enriching events and classes happening each week at their flagship store on Thoreau Street in Concord, just across from the train station.  Tip:  grab a magnifique lunch at La Provence when you visit.  It’s right next door.  There is also great pizza at Sorrento’s (gorgonzola and mushroom is my fave) and then Bedford Farms Ice Cream for dessert, both establishments right across the street from Barefoot Books.

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