The Importance of Story Time Effectiveness
Parents bring children to story time sessions at libraries for many reasons, just as teachers have many different lessons to teach their class through stories and it is absolutely the responsibility of the storyteller or educator to to get the most out of a story through reading or telling techniques.
I argue this point with my business clients as well as friends, family and even people I don’t really know:
It is not up to the listener to understand the communication – it is up to the communicator to do so in a way that is understood
In more than one book I have read the definition of effective communication as “The response you receive from the other person as a result of your communication.”
So, how do we make sure that our story time is effective?
Choice of story, sufficient preparation, and enthusiasm make for a great story time for all participants.
Reading stories introduces a plethora of ideas to a child. Also, emotions and thoughts can be (remember that this is entirely at the control of the storyteller) conveyed in easy to understand concepts that helps provide amusement, fascination and fun.
Simply put, telling stories offers a stimulus to a child’s imagination that no other medium can provide.
Let Their Imagination Run Wild!
Imagination must be encouraged to help a child develop into their own person.
Without imagination a child is bound by an environment consisting of only what he can see, hear and touch! This concept sends shudders down my spine at the thought: I imagine it would be much like the experience of those who have been lobotomised.
Telling stories gives a child a chance to unlock a world which has never been seen before, where just about anything is possible.
Imagination enables a child to see vast landscapes, take part in adventures, share people’s life stories and develop a sense of compassion and understanding about the ways in which different people and cultures live.
The best way to provide stimulus for the imagination is to prepare an effective story time and this is accomplished by knowing when to read or tell, knowing your audience and story, using your voice correctly and engaging with the listeners.
When choosing to read or tell there are some things to keep in mind:
- Personal stories are always a favourite to children and would work well told.
- Books that use long, descriptive sentences to tell their stories may not be the best choice for telling simply because remembering would be difficult and much of the story may get lost in the teller’s interpretation. Not to say that it can’t be done, however there is no denying the beauty and poetry of the written word and how it can not only enrich a child’s vocabulary but can train the ear to respond to the rhythm of words.
- Telling stories should be less complicated with a plot and setting that are easy to comprehend for the listener.
- Short sentences with a familiar vocabulary should be the focus when telling a story as it makes it easier to understand.
Knowing your audience is also key to story choice.
The story choice should be personal to the reader, something the reader can get behind and enjoy telling just as much as the listener enjoys hearing.
However, the age groups of the audience will influence the choice as well.
- Preschoolers will have more of a limited vocabulary while school aged children’s knowledge base will be broader and their experience base will be richer.
- Preschoolers may enjoy shorter stories because keeping their attention can sometimes be a challenge.
- Suspenseful stories seem to work well for all aged groups because of their ability to grasp attention and hold it.
The voice can also be an effective tool during a story time. Knowing how to change your voice to capture emotion and rhythm can take practice. Knowing your story well will help train the voice to react a certain way when trying to convey different feelings or characters.
However knowing your characters well and the story well will prepare the reader to project the most enthusiasm about the story to the listeners while making it easier to comprehend.
Most importantly, engaging with the audience and treating them as equals will encourage their participation in the story time session.
Each child will take from the session what they are ready to on an individual developmental level, making it fun and entertaining for all is up to the educator.