Snuggling up with a story is a special time to spend with your little ones. From ravenous wriggling caterpillars to a big friendly giant, stories have a unique power to inspire childdren’s imaginations. But if you’re finding that reading out aloud is a bit of a chore, here are some tips you can try to make it more exciting.
Schedule story time
Many moms, especially working moms, will say they don’t have the time to read to their children, but all you really need is a short window of time. According to some experts, half an hour is ideal, but if you only have 15 minutes, you should use them well. One suggestion is to select what you’re going to read the night before, or in the morning, and to scan the book beforehand so you know what the stories are.
Don’t be shy
If you lack the confidence in your own reading ability, remember your toddler is already your biggest fan. In fact, they really don’t care if you make mistakes or if you mix up a word. Try to see the story as a framework – you’ll quickly catch on that how you fill it out is very much up to you!
Do clown around
Make your story as engaging as possible. Don’t be shy to put on an accent, jump around and be silly. Have fun with the story and your child will too.
Don’t be a “book-tator”
When you’re a mom with a never-ending to-do list, it’s tempting to stick to the script and get it over and done with. Take your cues from your child. Remember, if your child stops you, it’s because there are bits of information he’s trying to grasp.
As much as we all love The Gruffalo, by the time you’ve ventured into the deep dark wood for a third night in a row, you may feel a bit gruff too. It can be tiresome, we know, but bear in mind that repetition is extremely beneficial for your child. The reason he wants to read the same book again and again is because he’s been able to build a relationship with it and a sense that, in future, he can control the way a story goes.
Don’t avoid serious books
Nobody wants to see their child get scared, but telling stories about difficult topics can be a great way to help conquer any fears or uncertainties they have. When you’re reading a story, you have the opportunity to stop and talk to your little one about things taking place within it.
Do cuddle up
One of the most valuable aspects of story telling is the one-on-one bonding time between you and your toddler. The importance is in the contact according to Eric Carle, author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “Putting your child on your lap and holding the book can be far more nurturing than the act of reading itself.”
3 kiddies books we love!
How Lion Became King of the Animals – And Other Stories from Africa
Collected by Michelle Cooper, illustrated by Chris Venter, Tafelberg
Once upon a time…a mighty Lion was afraid of a toothless ostrich; a lazy hare stole the animals’ water at night; the crocodile and elephant came to blows…little ones will be enthralled by the imaginative stories contained in this anthology of how animals came to be in Africa. It includes the San people of southern Africa’s story of how the stars and Milky Way were formed, as well as tales explaining how hippopotamus came to live in the water, how the jackal got a black mark on his back, and how the dog came to live with man.
I See A Rhinoceros
By Elaine Macdonald, illustrated by Vanessa Mearns, Penguin Random House
All the animals are worried about Rhinoceros. He had turned a deep shade of pink and no-one know why, until they discover that Rhinoceros loves to eat berries, cherries and all kinds of pink food. When the animals persuade Rhinoceros that switching his diet will bring back his natural colour, he realises he is going to have to make some changes in his life. An entertaining story that will have your toddler in giggles but also teaches him that sometimes we have to do things differently because they’re not good for us.
How Many Ways Can You Say Hello
By Refiloe Moahloli, illustrated by Anja Stoeckigt, Penguin Random House
Sara’s first day of school is full of surprises, but the biggest one of all is that there is more than one way to say hello. To find out what they are, she sets off on a journey around the country in a hot air balloon. Your little ones will love meeting all the interesting people Sara meets on her travels and the different ways they greet each other. Best of all, they’ll love that they can colour-in the pictures!
Editor of Living and Loving. She is responsible for developing the brand’s overall content and business strategy.
She has worked on various newspapers and magazines as a journalist and editor over the years. Passionate about health and wellbeing, she has won several respected industry awards for writing and editing. She’s featured on radio and television as a health and parenting expert numerous times and has judged the Pfizer Mental Health Journalism Awards on three occasions.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
Learn more about Sonya Naudé.