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Early Years Calendar: National Storytelling Week
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss
Photographer: Ben White | Source: Unsplash

National Storytelling Week, 30th January-6th February 2021

According to the National Literacy Trust, some children have unfortunately faced greater barriers to reading or having stories read to them as a result of COVID-19. This is due to a range of reasons such as the lack of access to books or quiet spaces at home to where they can be read to. A key finding from the study was that children aged 9-18 years old said a lack of access to books “negatively affected their ability to read and their motivation to read for enjoyment”. This is exactly what we need to combat!

We want to foster a love for stories from as young as possible. That’s why National Storytelling Week is so important - it’s a fantastic way to explore some of the children’s (and adults’) favourite stories in an exciting way.

It’s also another way to build parent-teacher relationships as you can get parents (or siblings or grandparents) involved during the week too. A big message that you should aim to share is the importance of children being read to each day and explaining how this improves literacy levels. So definitely involve the parents and communicate with them via letters and emails about this week.

It would be a good idea to show the children (and their parents) the variety of storybooks available: oversized books, pop-up books and lift-the-flap books, online storybooks, touch and feel books, waterproof books (for the Water Area or for bath-time). Reading stories both indoors and outdoors (if the weather is mild, a little more difficult for this week sadly!), or creating a magic reading ‘tent’ which is a quiet place for children to reflect and read calmly with you, create a sense of engagement and excitement. Books are for everywhere!

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If there are bilingual or ESL children then you should have some bilingual books at your setting. Some parents may have books in their native language at home too that they could send in to read to some children. When students see their home language printed next to English, they will view both languages as being of equal importance.  This is a key element in helping bilingual children feel that their language is respected and appreciated, and their experience no less important or valid.

There are also ‘oral’ stories. This form of storytelling will be easily grasped by the children; adults can prompt as much or as little as required. You could encourage the children to share a story about a time they were “happy” “excited”, “scared”, “confused”. Not only will this get them thinking about how to organise their speech, but it also links to emotional development.

If possible, a organise a trip to the library and encourage the parents to sign their children up for library cards. If the budget permits, you can even book a professional storyteller to wow the children and model reading with expression/ how to use props for the parents. To bring the week to a close, you can create a whole class storybook with the children featured and helping with illustrations.

At the end of the week the children will have a plethora of characters to choose to dress up as for World Book Day, which is soon upon us...

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