The Corner Reads
The Corner Reads provides useful information and tips on how to enhance the story reading experience and engage children.
- Read the story beforehand and pronounce any tricky bits out loud.
- It helps to set up the space in a way that reduces distractions and keeps intimacy. Think about setting cushions or rugs in a way that everyone can see and hear you easily.
- Introduce yourself and say hello and welcome. Pretend you are welcoming guests into your home.
- Be yourself. There are many different styles of story reading and all of them can work. Quiet story readers often engage children just as effectively as more energetic story readers. If you know you’re a quiet reader, focus on getting your thoughts across to the furthest person away rather than thinking of being louder. And if you love to do big bold gestures and loud funny voices while story reading, go for it! It’s your chance to be silly and loved for being silly.
- If you have lots of stories to tell drink plenty of water and remind yourself to breathe so you don’t strain your voice. Humming softly in the front of your mouth (not the back of your throat) is a good simple warm-up and cool-down.
- The more fun you can have the more you will relax and the more everyone, including you, will enjoy the story.
- Make eye contact. Look at one child and finish your thought, then move onto another child.
- Use dramatic pauses – build to the climax of the story! Pausing can help give you a tiny break to think as well. Let yourself express the different emotions in the story.
- Ask questions that they will know the answer to, especially if your audience is shy: What colour is the tree? What is this animal called?
- Purposely answer/ask questions incorrectly, using humour to connect: What says MOO, is it a duck? What do you see on the top of the tree? Is it an elephant? No? Oh, is it a crocodile? A vegemite sandwich?
- Ask questions that personalise the story: Do YOU every go on holiday like the 5 baby ducks? What’s YOUR favourite thing to eat at a family celebration?
- Invite participation: How many flowers are there? Can you count them with me? Can you make the sound of the tiger roaring? Simple movement participation is especially good for a rowdy group, or a very quiet one – Can you make your arms move like the wind in the trees, like this? Can you make your hand swim like a fish, like this?
- Use nursery rhymes with movement, dances and/or songs in between stories to keep attention or change the energy, making the group calmer or more energetic as you’d like to.
- If your audience isn’t paying attention, use the suggestions above before you ask them to be quiet. Groups are usually more receptive to listening if they are interested rather than being told to listen. Read to the adults as well as the children, which will help if your adults are talking and taking energy away from the storytelling. You can also try reading more quietly rather than trying to talk over the group, or standing up and doing a simple movement from the story, perhaps one you’ve done before, and inviting the group to do it with you.
- Show interest in their ideas even if they have nothing to do with the story. Repeat back to them a bit of what they’ve said, and then redirect them to the story. Wow! You went on holiday with your grandma! Do you think your grandma would like to ride the big red fire engine in our story?
- If you need to, let the energetic child know you would like everyone to be able to hear and participate in the story. Bronwyn, I love your questions – right now I’m wanting to read the story so everyone can find out what’s happening, maybe I can answer this question after story time.
Last updated: 28th November 2016
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