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Storytime Success

Infants

Developmental characteristics

  • Recognizes and looks for familiar voices and sounds
  • Explores objects by touching, shaking, banging or mouthing
  • Babbles expresively as if talking
  • Imitates sounds, facial expressions and actions made by others

Advice

  • It is never too early to begin reading to a child. Hearing the rhythm of stories, even as a newborn, is both soothing and important for developing literacy
  • If it is too difficult to hold both baby and book, then just tell stories that you know. Use hand motions, facial expressions and baby's toys to "illustrate" your story
  • Speak clearly and expressively. Even if they don't understand all the words of a story, you are conveying meaning through emotion
  • Repeat sections when the child shows interest
  • Ask questions about the story. (ex: What color is that house? What does a cow say?) Even if the child cannot respond to you, they are learning when they are expected to respond
  • Babies will want to experience a book with all senses. Make sure to have at least one board book that they can touch, pull at or even stick in their mouth
  • Choose books with bright, clear pictures
  • Look for stories with rhyme and repetition
  • Stop when baby cues that they have had enough. Better short and sweet than a long experience that neither of you will want to repeat

Themes

Toddlers

Developmental characteristics

  • Dances or bounces to music
  • Likes to place objects inside of one another
  • Interested in picture books
  • Enjoys an audience and applause

Advice

  • Make sure to talk about the book as well as the story (Where is the cover? title page? beginning and end of the story?)
  • Read the same books again and again, if asked
  • Read slowly so the toddler can make sense of what's happening in a story
  • Vary your voice to fit the characters and plot
  • Use puppets and other props related to the story
  • Repeat interesting words and phrases
  • Stop often to comment, ask questions, and look closely at the illustrations
  • Encourage a toddler to join in: turn pages, name things in pictures, make sounds, repeat rhymes and phrases, and think about what might happen next
  • Talk about the pictures and point out details a toddler might miss
  • Talk about the story and how it relates to a toddler's real life experiences

Themes

Preschoolers

Developmental characteristics

  • Seeks attention and approval from adults
  • Enjoys helping with simple household tasks
  • Enjoys playing house and/or imitating other children and adults
  • Enjoys hearing stories about self

Advice

  • Snuggle with your child with her favorite blanket or toys as you read
  • Emphasize rhythms and rhymes in stories. Give your preschooler opportunities to repeat rhyming phrases
  • Encourage the child to react to and comment on the story
  • Elaborate on the text to help the child understand the language and critical story components
  • Ask the child to make predictions
  • Be careful not to disrupt the flow of the story. It is often best to read the story through once with few interruptions to keep the meaning intact and then have a discussion during the second reading
  • Look for books that are about things that interest your preschooler. For example, does your child like cars, insects or animals?
  • Help the child make connections between events in the story and their own lives; or make connections with another book read previously
  • Tell the child a "me" story, about a child like them who has a fanciful adventure. Weave their name and the details of their life into the story
  • Give your child a chance to choose his own books for reading. If your child chooses a book that is too long to hold his attention, read some pages and skip some, discussing the pictures and how they relate to the story
  • Set a good example as a reader — read every day at home even if it is a magazine or newspaper

Themes