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Powers and wonders of story

When I was young, my mum had showered me with storybooks every night, from local folktales to classic stories. Now 20-some years later, I could still recall the joys it had brought me every night, the imaginations and dreams I had got from those stories. I felt grateful to my mum who has taken the time and effort to read me those stories every night, with her animatic expressions and intonations. I always believed that the times I had felt that learning language was fun and easy were all thanks to her storytelling and book readings. Little did I know I would grow up to find that they were actually true. Children love stories. Research has shown that storytelling or storybook-reading, brings positive impacts to language development in young children and leads to various improvements in oral language, written language, expanding their imagination and many more.


So how do we engage our children in stories?

1. Use cute intonations

This is the part where some parents find it difficult, but it is actually not as hard as you think, picture this,

Count to 10 (aloud) in these different ways:

- In a completely flat tone, as if you are doing same thing for the

thousandth time,

- As if you were an angry parent, warning your kids to keep the toys before you throw them all out,

- As if it is the last day of a long year and you were at a party counting down to the new year,

- As if you were playing hide and seek with your friends when you were young; and you were the one seeking,

- As if you were counting your presents after a surprise birthday party for you.

Now try reading a small paragraph or even a sentence of the storybook, let your voice go high and low, go loud and soft. Sometimes even fast and slow. Is it so hard now?

2. Motions and movements

Storytelling isn’t just about words; it is also about movements and motion. Children enjoy movements, you use your arms and legs to tell the story. You will use your hands and face to tell the story. Practice telling the story with lots of movements and funny exaggerated expressions.

If there is a lion in the story, you roar like a lion with your hands in the air like they were paws. If mummy is angry in the story, make your angry face and put your hands on your waist. If it is cold in the story, cross your hands and rub them together as if you were cold. We use our body to express ourselves every day, use it during storytelling too!

3. Pause and observe

Always pause and observe your child’s response during storytelling. Remember to give them opportunities to respond to you. They should do more than just listen to you in a story time. Just as you were having a conversation with somebody, it is a 2-way interaction, not one, do keep that in mind.

4. Comment and add on

As you observe your child, he/ she may be interested or intrigued by something in the storybook. Comment on what interests your child, add on to what they say even if it is just one word, for example:

Child: Elephant!

Mother: Yes, that’s a big elephant! The elephant goes [make elephant sound and actions].

5. Asking the right questions

Don’t just ask testing questions (refer to our last blog). Let them turn the page when you are done so they get to take a turn even if they can’t take a turn in telling the story verbally. Encourage them to think about what will happen next, in this case, the right question will be: “What happens now?” questions. For example:

Mother: The big elephant is clumsy, he fell down! Uh- oh!

Child: Uh-oh!

Mother: What does he do? Let’s see {let your child turn the page and pause}

[wait for his/her response], [add on to what he/she sees and says]


If you have been with me up till here, thank you so much! Alright, that’s all about story time for now. Hope you enjoyed reading this blog and it has given you some ideas and courage to start storytelling with your child if you have not; and continue with better ideas if you have been doing it.

If Despicable Gru here can do it, you can do it too!

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