Preschoolers may not be able to read fully on their own, but they still love stories! Interactive read-alouds promote reading and communication skills early on. As you read to your children and encourage them to participate, they develop critical thinking skills and expand their vocabulary. Encouraging literacy in early childhood education is important in sparking a love for reading they will carry throughout their education. Make reading aloud to your children an engaging, interactive experience using some of these tips and tricks from Starting With Stories.
16 Strategies for Making Story Time an Interactive Experience
- Select the right story. Choose books for story time that have clear story lines and illustration contexts, age-appropriate themes or topics, rhythmic language, interesting vocabulary, sensitivity to diversity, and themes or objectives related to current study.
- Familiarize yourself with the book. Preview the book before reading it aloud. You know what your children will like, so make sure it is a book that will keep their attention.
- Think about what you want the children to learn. Identify concepts to develop, vocabulary to discuss, and questions you want to ask.
- Print key vocabulary words on strips of paper. Use these flashcards to introduce and discuss new vocabulary. You might also thumb through the pictures and the text beforehand. If possible, include illustrations on the strips of paper for further engagement.
- Present the cover. Before reading the book, encourage the children to look at the book cover, describe what they see, and predict what the story is going to be about.
- Talk about the author. Discuss the role of the author and illustrator. Bring up important points such as how they work together to create the books you are reading. You could also make the connection that children are also authors and illustrators since they write and draw.
- Talk to children about what makes up a book. Point out the spine, front, and back of the book. Research how books are made, and summarize the process to your children.
- Use your fingers. As you read the book, track the print with your finger or a pointer. This is particularly important if you are reading to a large group.
- Ask, ask, ask. Make sure to pause and involve the children by asking them questions about the reading or connection to the reading.
- Allot time for children to reflect. Allow the children to reflect on what is happening 1–2 times during the story. Have them recall details or what they think will happen next.
- Be expressive. Use facial expressions and voice variations to add excitement to the story. Don't be afraid to be silly!
- Choose appropriate pacing. Pace the story to fit the type of book you've picked for storytime. Invite children to participate at the same pace.
- Make personal connections. Try to connect the book with the children's prior knowledge or personal experiences.
- Summarize the story After reading the book, review the story plot and help the children to summarize the story. Take time to go over important themes from the story.
- Extend storytime. To extend storytime, try using these follow–up activities such as using story maps, word webs, sequencing activities, role play, story retelling with props, or flannel board characters.
- Mix it up! Vary the strategies from book to book and from reading to reading. There's no need to use more than a handful of these strategies with each story. Keep it exciting!
Above all, take care not to impede storytime with too many interactive strategies. Preschool children have an attention span that ranger from 10 to 12 minutes. Once it is exhausted, learning is no longer fun!
Additional ResourcesInteractive Read-Alouds in the Classroom
Using Interactive Books to Support Early Literacy Skills
Storytelling Rocks Activity