Reading Books for Kids: How to Master the Skill

Here are some advanced tips for becoming an interesting storyteller. Before you read further, we encourage you to read our previous article for tips about Reading Books for Kids.

How to be an expert at reading books for kids:

1. You do NOT have to read the words in the book Verbatim! 

Good readers rarely read aloud the exact same words written in the book, just as a good speaker uses the PPT for only capturing the essentials of a presentation. Subtle changes from your narration will keep the story interesting for your children. You can also use this technique to shorten/lengthen the story appropriately. This is also useful if you feel that the language used in the book is age-inappropriate. I have had to use this for some of our Indian storybooks when they use grammatically incorrect sentences!

2. Relate the story to some event in your Child’s life! 

If you are reading a story about going to a Park, stop for a moment and talk about the day that you took your child to a Park. This will help the child connect with the story at a higher level. Storybooks can be a source of many practical life lessons. Use every opportunity, without disrupting the flow of storytelling too much, to establish those connections.

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3. Engage with the Child! 

Storybook reading should not become a monologue. At the appropriate time in every story, make sure you engage the child. For example, you can stop and ask the child about what happens next? You can come up with many such questions depending on the story. This technique not only makes the story interesting but also helps in developing important skills such as anticipation and instinct. Be on the lookout for opportunities for such interventions.

4. Song and Dance!

If you can incorporate song and dance routines into your storytelling sessions, you can take the whole reading storybook experience to the next level. This could be simple things like clapping hands, stamping your feet, turning around etc. Not all parents might be able to do this easily and the feasibility of this also depends on the story. If you cannot do this, do not fret, it is not essential.

5. Don’t just read with your Mouth! 

While reading the storybook, use your eyes and hands effectively. In fact, you can use your entire body. Voice modulation is also very important. But hey, we are not professional theatre actors who are trained in these aspects! Nevertheless, you will pick things along the way. Start by using the more obvious opportunities that the story provides and by being aware.

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6. Refer to storybooks in your everyday life events and activities! 

This technique is the converse of the above point 2. If the activity that you are doing currently with your child has a parallel in one of the stories that you read often, help the child make the connection. For example, when my child is being naughty, I gently bring up a familiar story about a naughty boy. Be on the lookout for establishing such connections in your child’s mind.

7. Frequency of Reading the Storybook! 

Children love stories that are familiar to them and contrary to what some might say, do not get bored easily. In a world that is so new, familiar things offer a source of stability to them. So, if you have a collection of books, keep using them like a round-robin system ensuring that a storybook repeats every few days. Ideally, the gap should not be too long or too short. You can figure this out easily by experimenting.

8. Finally, keep Innovating!

Like most activities in life, be observant and notice what works and what does not and keep innovating on your story reading methods! Over a period, you will develop your own techniques and can innovate spontaneously depending on the story and context. For example, when I read international books to my children, I automatically change the names to familiar Indian ones to make the story more relatable!

  • This blog has interesting advanced tips for storytellers and is a continuation of our previous article on this topic.  
  • You can make your narration more interesting by relating the story to some event in your child’s life and by asking questions in between and by using many other techniques.
  • Know more about how to incorporate songs and dance and effectively use body language to make a storytelling session a memorable experience for your child.
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Did you find the above tips useful? Do you use any other techniques to grab the attention of your child?

Please share your thoughts in the commenting section below.

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