As an early childhood educator with a heart for literacy, I am inspired daily by the awe in a child’s eyes as they lose themselves in a simple storybook. As the pages are flipped, we naturally alter our voice to make magical characters come to life; seizing the attentions of even the squirmiest child and enrapturing their curiosity for the written word.
As you read my intro, maybe you’re asking yourself, “Have I ever seen that magic in the eyes of a child during my read alouds?” If that look of complete engagement has been absent from your read alouds, try some of the tips below to put the spark back into storytime!
- Take a picture walk of the book prior to reading the story. This activity teaches emerging readers that illustrations can be used to gain understanding of a story while captivating their attention immediately.
- Don’t be afraid to let loose of our own imagination by using your voice as a tool for engagement. Yes, you can give voices to characters that make their personalities come alive, but even the slightest changes in voice inflection, speed, and volume through out the story, can create an atmosphere of suspense.
- Stop to engage students in making meaningful connections to their own experiences. You may even prepare activities prior to the read aloud that children will be able to draw experiences from. Children draw on prior knowledge and experience to help them understand what they are reading and are thus able to use that knowledge to make personal connections.
- Stretch students’ imaginations by allowing them to make their own predictions for the climax of the story This activity brings us full circle from the picture walk. Students will now have to activate their prior knowledge and combine that with what they have comprehended thus far from the text in able to make an approximate prediction.
- Don’t hesitate to reread the same story multiple times. A child can repeatedly experience a book just as you and I can watch a movie over and over again and find something new in the storyline each time. This is because each time we experience the story, we have more background knowledge and experiences to draw from, enabling us to make different connections to the storyline each time.
Remember that as early childhood educators, we have the opportunity of a lifetime. We have the opportunity to foster a love for literacy in the hearts of our nation’s youngest learners. It is in your care, that a child may decide, “I love books.”, and from there the future is theirs for the taking.
About the author:
- Tammy Flowers is the Early Childhood Coordinator for the Saint Joseph School District in Saint Joseph, MO. Her professional goal is to create a safe, supportive and nurturing environment by encouraging and responding to children’s natural interests and engaging them in the experiences necessary to construct their own knowledge.
You can view more articles by Tammy on her blog – just click here!