As you may know, storytelling is a great parent-child bonding activity. It also yields a lot of benefits for your child’s development, which we have discussed in our previous post (hyperlink to
If you’ve come to read this article, you are most probably a parent that is looking forward to tell stories to your children, but are a little unsure on how exactly to do that. You might especially be worried that you cannot keep your child’s attention for long enough to complete a session of storytelling.
It is no secret that holding onto a child’s attention or interest for an extended period of time is rather difficult. Children – specifically the younger ones – have extremely fleeting attention and may not agree to quietly sit in one spot for more than five minutes.
Worry not, by the end of this article, you will know how to conduct a fun storytelling session with your child. Here are some tips on making your storytelling sessions with your kids more interesting.
1. Choose a suitable book
One of the factors that might be overlooked when trying to do a storytelling with your children is the selection of the right book. A sign that you chose the wrong book is when your child appears to be interested in literally anything other than the book and your storytelling session.
The most important factor to consider when choosing a suitable book for your child is the book’s level of difficulty. You do not want to pick a book that is too hard, nor do you want to pick one that’s too easy for your child.
How do you know the book is too difficult for your child? Well, if you need to explain the book so much that it disrupts the flow of your storytelling, or if the book contains a lot of vocabulary that your child may struggle with, it’s probably not the book suited for their level at that time.
On the other hand, if the book is too repetitive or uses a language that is too simple for your child, it is likely too easy and would bore your child quicker.
Another tip that we can offer you in this context is to listen to what your child constantly talks about. More often than not, the subject that they talk about often is something they’re very interested in. Select a book that matches your child’s interest and watch them become more engaged in your storytelling sessions.
Pro tip: Kids love unicorns and dinosaurs these days!
It might also be helpful to allow your children to pick the books they want to read by themselves as they know their own interest the best. Not only will they be more interested in the storytelling sessions, you will also train them to be more independent and responsible, which will in turn enhance their self-confidence.
2. Apply the dialogic reading method
In our previous article (hyperlink to first article), we have discussed dialogic reading at length and how to apply it in your storytelling sessions.
To summarise the method, dialogic reading involves talking about a book and its elements using a dialogue between a parent-child pairing. The child becomes the main storyteller, while the parent prompts the children with questions and feedback on the child’s reading and storytelling.
Asking questions will keep your child’s attention on the book you’re using for storytelling. They’ll focus more on every aspect of the book and will be interested to know what happens next. This method is considered a foolproof way to make your parent-child storytelling more interesting.
Pro tip: Other than asking your child about the elements featured in the book, you can also ask for their opinion about the characters or the plot of the book. For example, when a character does a certain action, you can pose several questions, such as the following;
Not only will this be a good way to make storytelling sessions fun, it also encourages your child to think outside the box and use their imagination more.
3. Act it out!
Rather than a passive storytelling where you just read off the words in a book, a way to make storytelling entertaining is by acting the story out. This can be as simple as using different gestures, tones, and voices when narrating the story.
You can use different voices when reciting the lines of the different characters. At different points of the story, apply different tones to emphasise some points or to build suspense towards the climax of the story. In addition, you can add your own sound effects; such as “whoosh” for a strong wind, or whistling to indicate the presence of birds in a certain scene.
Check out the video below for an idea on how to utilize sound effects during your storytelling sessions.
By performing the actions above, you will help your children imagine the story and situation better, making it easier to relate and immerse themselves in the world of the story that you’re telling.
To further engage your child into the story, you can also use props or costumes related to the characters and scenes of the book. You don’t even need to buy items especially for a certain story; anything at home can be a prop for your stories.
Here are some examples of props that you can use as part of your storytelling:
- A beautiful castle in the book your read can be substituted with a simple pillow fort, built using the pillows around your house.
- Use a stick or a thin branch of a tree from your front garden as a magic wand.
- Blankets can act as capes for your little superheroes!
Research has also found that this form of pretend play helps the development of socio-emotional aspects in children.
4. Shadow play: an ancient and cultural storytelling method
Shadow play is a long-standing, ancient method of storytelling that has been around for literal centuries. For those familiar with the Malaysian culture, the term Wayang Kulit might be more recognisable to you.
Using this method, puppets are controlled by the narrator to tell the story. Shadow play helps the audience to visualise the stories better by watching the story unfold with their own eyes.
It is also a good idea to introduce the younger generation to this amazing, slightly older method of storytelling as they will learn and appreciate their culture even more.
Here at Me Books Asia, we’re offering our very own version of shadow play; the Me Books Theatre, as part of our continuing journey to encourage interactive storytelling in children.
Get a year of free access to our Me Books Plus app by purchasing the Me Books Theatre at our store today!
We hope that this article has helped you gain a little more insight on how to make your storytelling sessions more interesting. Try these tips today and see how your children become more focused and engaged with the stories you narrate.