So Jesus told them a story (Luke 15:3, NLT)
Jesus often used storytelling to make His point when teaching His followers. Stories are powerful. They create memorable mental pictures that drive home important lessons.
When it comes to sharing stories with our children, whether we’ve created a story we’re simply telling or reading one aloud, some of us are confident and some of us are not. Some of us feel inferior and would rather let someone else tell the stories to our children. We’ve all heard the great storytellers who use different voices for characters, are animated, and expertly show the pictures as they make the story come to life. They are truly gifted, and they are gifts to our children when they get to experience those readings. However, your children want to hear you read stories. They want the time with you and the enjoyment of sharing a story together. So, here are some tips for the introverted, I’m-not-a-good-storyteller parent:
1. We must read anyway and often: Our children want time with us and the experience of sitting together and sharing this experience together, especially when it is at night before bedtime. That connection helps them calm down and go to sleep with a sense of security. It is important. It does not have to be perfect. It just has to be us.
2. We should get comfy and snuggly. (You’ll thank me later). One of the hardest parts of seeing our kids grow up is missing those snuggle times. These story times are precious opportunities. Plus, it helps children fall in love with reading, giving it a positive connotation and memory in their minds. Reading will easily become a comforting habit for them when reading together is a habit in our families.
3. We can start by looking at the book before opening it. Talk about the cover. What do they notice? Is part of the story on the cover? Are there clues about the story? We help build excitement for the story we’re about to read.
4. We must read with our hearts. We may not want to or be able to do voices and gestures, but we can read the text with feeling and meaning simply by thinking about the words and what they are communicating to the child.
5. We can let our children join in. Let them say how one character might sound, and let them read that character’s words throughout the story in their chosen voice. If each child is a different character, it can become a hilariously fun time as we read through the story together.
6. We can ask questions and open discussions during the story. That way we all are interacting with the story and are invested in it. Interact with the illustrations. Learn new words. Guess where the story may be going.
7. We must focus on fun. The first priority is spending time with our children. The second is that this is a fun time together. We can choose how to make it fun. We might include a project (puzzle, game, craft) to go with a story we’ve been reading. We can wear funny hats or dress like a character. Reading a pirate story? Maybe we all dress like pirates. Maybe we pretend we’re on a boat and sway at each page turn. It doesn’t have to be complicated. We just need to find the silly kid that’s still lurking inside all of us.
8. We need to focus on teachable moments. If a teachable moment arises, we should grab it and welcome it. Make the time together deeper and more memorable by attaching important lessons and conversations to the time as they arise.
9. (optional): If we want to become a good storyteller with all the theatrics, we can learn from YouTube videos or join a class. It is definitely an artform, and it can be a lot of fun.
Above all else, read, read, read! We are blessing our children when we read aloud with them. And as our children get older, having a time of silent reading together can be such a peaceful time. My favorite saying is, “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL!” And it’s true. We are giving our children a meaningful, life-changing gift by reading to them and with them and helping them to fall in love with reading.