It all starts with once upon a time! Children have vivid imagination and love to listen to stories. Bed-time tales have always been a popular method to put children to sleep. Though technology has made its way to children’s tabs and laptops, nothing can replace the experience of having a parent or grandparent sit beside the little one and dramatize a scene from Eric Carle’s famous book ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, or pretend to play multiple characters from the story of the ‘Three Little Pigs’ by ‘huffing’ and ‘puffing’ your child to sleep.
Every night or even day, be it a class teacher or a parent, children look forward to stories that transport them into imaginary lands and eagerly await the introduction of a new character each day. Stories allow children to escape reality and imagine a world of wonder where everything they dream of is possible.
There are a number of genres and types of stories that especially enthuse children. Kutubee is one such platform that is popular amongst parents and teachers as it broadcasts over 1,000 books dedicated to children. And the cool thing about Kutubee is that English books are translated into French and Arabic languages to cater to a larger target audience in the Middle East including Dubai, GCC, and other parts of the world.
So now that we know where to hunt for the next story book, let us share a few tips that can help bring out the true storyteller in you and make it an even more memorable experience.
Use words that adds to the child’s vocabulary
Children’s books often have words that are repetitive in nature and are found in verses across the book. This indicates that the word has to be emphasized upon in order to link the story and get the meaning out of it. Some books may have words that children have never learnt before. Say for example you come across this phrase ‘delightful Nancy’ all through the book and children are unaware what ‘delightful’ truly means. However, repetition is the best teacher and as the plot in the story book unfolds children start to understand the meaning of the word and by the end of it, they would have made sense of its meaning & learnt a few new words to enrich their vocabulary. Schools across the UAE have dedicated story time period at least for the preschool graders, so as to make attending school a joyous experience and encourage children to look forward to school each day.
Actions speak louder than words
Many a times children recollect the song or a story by reproducing the action. To make story time more inclusive & participative, the storyteller can use actions and ask children to replicate the same. Every time the phrase exclaims ‘pitter patter raindrops’ the storyteller can ask children to wriggle their fingers and assume raindrops falling from the sky. This is how one can connect the scene with the actual experience.
Appropriate voice modulation
The essence of effective storytelling is to make the sessions as lively as possible! Voice modulation is used to add variety and excitement to the story, rather than just reading out from a book in monotonous pitch. The storyteller may choose to speak soft, loud, slower or faster, as per the dimensions of the plot. When you modulate voice it conveys emotions and stimulates the same reaction amongst the young audiences before you. Also, while depicting different characters in the story the teacher or parent needs to get into the role and try to give it life by sounding ‘bold’, ‘timid’ or ‘funny’ as demanded by the story. Example: To express the lines of a timid mouse practice a squeaky sound in low pitch, whereas when you quote the lion make him sound a bit hoarse, loud and confident.
Bring the story to life with props
To make the story a visual delight, one can incorporate a prop box with soft toys, animals, finger puppets and visual cards. Children can take turns to feel, touch and interact with the characters to enhance the tactile experience. It is not necessary to have props all through the story. Just choose a few important scenes and correlate the characters to the book. Props give meaning to the story, they even become ‘role models’ when for instance ‘Popeye The Sailor’ is shown eating spinach and growing stronger by the day.
The above pointers were just a dot in the ocean. You can read and look-up for more such interesting storytelling techniques online. However, we can’t ignore the fact that great storytelling is rooted in consistent practice. So, practice in front of a mirror, practice in an empty room, practice at home, if you want to deliver a story without any fumbling or unwanted pauses.