National Share a Story month

Samantha Pope

No one knows exactly when people first started telling each other stories but one thing is for certain – it was long before radio, television and even books were invented. It has even been suggested that cave-dweller paintings might have been man’s first attempt at picture books!

May is National Share a Story month, and there are plenty of ways to do this with your children, and not all involve books. We’ve compiled our top five tips to help you get started.

1.    Share your favourite childhood stories
Think back to when you were a child and the stories that have stayed with you throughout the years. One will probably have had a big impression on you, so why not share it with your child? It might be something completely new to them or it could be a book that they love too, a classic such as Where the Wild Things Are. You don’t need to have a copy to hand either; you could tell it from memory and have some fun making it exciting, funny, sad or intriguing.

2.    Ask your child what their favourites are
Most children have at least one book that will have made an impression on them, whether it was one particular story or a series involving the same character or even a non-fiction title. (You may know before you ask your child which is their favourite story if you have had to read it time and time again!) Discuss what makes the book so special and why they like it. This helps your child think about books in a more analytical way and helps them form opinions that they know you respect.

3.    Read a bedtime story
Most children love being read to. It’s not just about the story; it’s also about curling up and spending special quiet time with you, without interruptions. You can enjoy board books with babies and younger children, and longer stories with older kids. By taking ten minutes or more out of your busy day you are not only helping them with their literacy but are also telling them that you love them and that spending time together matters. What a lovely thought before going to sleep!

4.    Create your own story
For thousands of years there were no books and, even if there were, most people couldn’t read. Instead they gathered to listen to storytellers for entertainment. It’s still a popular way to spend an evening now – think of ghost stories around a campfire or listening to a stand-up comedian talk about their life – so why not have a go at making up your own story? If your child can talk, involve them in it too. This is a fun way of passing the time when travelling and on rainy days and is more interactive than solitary reading. If your child gets really involved, you could always write your story down together and illustrate it with pictures or photos.

5.    Visit your local library
One of the best ways of getting your children and yourself into reading is by joining your local library. They usually have all the latest bestsellers, as well as old favourites, and you don’t have to pay a penny to borrow them. Many libraries have special children’s sections, with regular story times and music sessions, so you can sit and relax without worrying about making noise. The only trouble you may have is when it’s time to leave!

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