Building a story time routine and how to make the most of a picture book at bedtime
In the last article, we introduced the importance of storytelling and reading books and briefly discussed the importance of the story time environment. In this the second in this series and examines to difficulty facing parents who don’t yet have a story time routine and the problems of simply getting started. We then go on to discuss some options for reading picture books with younger children and how they don’t just have to be for the non-readers in our families.
When to start your story time routine?
But where should you start? And how, and what should you read with your children? Is there a simple formula that you can follow when you settle down in the evening, to read together? The simple answer, of course, is, “No!” What we can say is that you should make reading a routine – do it every day so that it is an accepted part of family life.
Read at the end of the day, after bath-time. This will help your child settle for sleep, and make reading as much a part of life as running and chasing, or meeting with friends.
As for what to read – well there is an endless list, and of course it will depend on the age and interests of your child. It will also depend on the purpose of the reading – what you want to get out of the experience – both for yourself, and for your child. I say this because as a parent I loved sharing books with my children – sharing the jokes and sounds, looking at the beautiful pictures, thinking about and sharing the experiences of childhood – of first day at school, and pets and Christmas.
Picture books for kids and non-readers
Some books are to be read by all ages. With Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman there are no words, and most children can share and appreciate this iconic book, with its magical treatment of a traditional Christmas theme. There is no written text – just share the pictures, tell the story, and answer questions. Older children may wish to tell the story for you, to share it with their younger siblings – let them, as it will develop their confidence, improve them as speakers and impart a sense of responsibility. Some will want to alter the story, or to add bits, often playing with the conventions: encourage this imaginative playfulness. The Snowman will provoke discussions about Christmas: about memories of past years, and anticipation of the ones to come. This is your time with them. Follow their interests, listen and share.
Of course, picture books are not just for one-to-one story time with your children. Motherreader.com has a great article on reading picture books aloud to children in a group setting. And it’s not just for young children either! It is all about how you read it with them and how you interact with your audience, asking them what they think, what they think the characters in the pictures think and even a bit of acting out the scenes.
This article introduced the idea of a bedtime story routine and hopefully stirred some thoughts about reading picture books with your children and how you can make the most of both
Other articles in this series
- Part 1 – Bedtime stories and books for children
- part 2 – Building a story time routine and how to make the most of a picture book at bedtime (this page)
- Part 3 – Emotional and Behavioural themes in children’s books
- Part 4 – Using story time to help children with vocabulary and rhythm and rhyme.