It’s long been known that sharing songs and stories with kids can have a profound effect on their language skills. There is increasing evidence from both scientific and anecdotal research that storytelling not only fires up the imagination of young children but can also help develop other important skills such as interpreting facial expressions and body language, enhancing their ability to start reading at a younger age as well as giving them a lifelong love of learning.
Young babies will love brightly coloured picture books which help them learn to focus on objects and aid shape recognition. Older toddlers might prefer stories which are themed around their favourite interests. Animal books are always popular as are books about pirates and dinosaurs, regardless of the child’s gender. Believe me, both of my girls are dinosaur obsessed, have a healthy preoccupation with pirates and love creepy crawlys too!
Whatever kind of books your kids are into, sharing stories from a young age is of paramount importance to help them develop a greater understanding of the world around them and strengthen the bonds between caregiver and child. It’s good for kids to share stories with as many people as possible as a favourite story read by someone other than you will bring about a whole new interpretation and enhance their understanding too.
Rhyming texts, singing and the use of repetitive words are a great tool for language development, and I always feel that doing the full range of silly voices for each of the characters is of vital importance (and quite funny too). I’ve never worried about my kids asking for the same books over and over again. They’re obviously enjoying it and to be honest there are numerous books which I constantly re-read because at the end of the day you never stop learning from a really good book.
I do think that sometimes people get too hung up on reading the actual story. I often find that my kids get as much enjoyment from talking about what’s going on in the pictures as they do from hearing the text. Giving them a chance to interact with a book in non-conventional ways broadens their understanding and makes it fun, especially for those kids who are not so interested in sitting still and just listening.
Books with song and story CDs are great for adding another dimension to the text and pictures and mean that your kids can enjoy listening to them while you are busy doing other things. It’s so much better than sticking them down in front of Cbeebies while you catch up on the house work. If you’re worried about discs getting damaged then do what we do and upload them onto an MP3 player instead. However you like to enjoy books with your kids, whether it’s at bedtime, on the bus or even while they’re sat on the potty, having a wide variety of stories around the house is a sure fire way to grow their imagination and encourage their creativity. We love books!