Each experience we encounter in life becomes a story when we share it, whether in the moment or flashback childhood stories…we all have a story to share.
Whether we use our own stories, creatively making up stories or read aloud from books, stories are the most powerful tool for education. Read aloud help young children build early literacy and language skills by promoting rich vocabulary words, correct context of words in a sentence, knowledge of the world, comprehension skills, reading fluency, voice intonation, emotions and creativity, an experience of pure communication skills. While children want to hear stories, ‘what’ we read to them is the big picture… “The concept”.
A story has the power to be what you want it to be. Parents can pick just about any book, but for the best results, do read the book through once, then think of – “what concepts can you take out from this one little book?”.
What are concepts?
Concepts are the bigger picture we want to address or can address.
Even though we read aloud to bond with our children, let us not forget that through this simple read aloud we can address these big ideas. Big ideas or concepts can be social emotional issues, math, language, social studies, history, geography, science concepts, growth mindset and even global issuesaround the world! Imagine this one book you pick can turn into a mini inquiry of a concept or topic. Use it to provoke curiosity about a topic you wish to inquire into, then the story becomes a medium to enhance research skills and thinking skills. How can stories be used as a success tool depends on how we use them. Stories promote understanding of different cultures, bringing in thinking about each other’s perspectives, respect, compassion, tolerance and then becomes meaningful as they make connections to self and the world around them, in turn this promotes social skills. Some simple examples of the use of books for an all-round experience is the story of The Cat in the Hat by Dr.Suess. I had used this book with my children and emphasized on the point of balance that the cat displayed while standing on one leg with all the objects he was holding. This provoked the curiosity of the concept “gravity”, and became my mini-inquiry for the children.
The story brought in comprehension in fun ways with identification of rhyming words throughout along with creativity when we thought about how the Cat in the Hat invented his own cleaning machine. Story extensions is another key rule to follow, as these hands-on experiences bring in play with materials for children to demonstrate their comprehension and to apply their understanding of the concepts. Post this story, we did math and engineering extensions with measuring how tall we can build a tower using cups to balance which allowed them to apply their understanding of gravity to make learning meaningful.
Another story which covered social-emotional issues, self-management skills as well as develops growth mindset is “Giraffes can’t dance”. Through this story children begin to believe in themselves and identify issues to work on, setting goals for themselves. The story “Lorax” by Dr.Suess is a story that engaged the children and they made connections with global issues and current affairs such as the Australian fire and deforestation.
Summing it up, read aloud every day but do allow the children to show their favorite part of the story and identifying the area of interest for your child. Allow them to play and construct the meaning of the world through play and giving them the knowledge to dig deeper in their play. I have attached a list of book titles that are must-reads for children that address many concepts. Make it beautiful, make it meaningful and as creative as you can.