2020 Videos

Ready to Read Tips 'N Tricks (Part 1, 3:50)

More Ready to Read Tips 'N Tricks (Part 2, 3:45 )

Nine More Tips 'N Tricks, (Part 3, 4:15)

Quick Links

Early Literacy:  See It Yourself (pdf)

Today's Story Times:  Dialogic Reading (pdf)

ELL Story Times

Dads and Early Literacy (2 pg pdf)

"I Love it When You Read to Me":  Mr. B's Story Time Song (pdf)

Activities for Story Times (7 pg pdf)

Kids Love Multicultural Picture Books (8 pg pdf)

Great Rhyming Picture Books (2 pg pdf)

Caldecott Awards (1938-Present)

Coretta Scott King Book Awards (1970-Present)

The Pura Belpré Award (1995-Present)

Native American Youth Book Awards

Asian/Pacific American Literature Awards (Includes children's books)

ALA Notable Children's Books (1995-Present)



Story Times

English Language Learner (ELL) Story TimesSharing stories and picture books is one of the most enjoyable parts of being a children's librarian, early childhood teacher, or early primary school teacher. Children love being read to, thrive on the extra attention that can be part of story time, and learn important early literacy skills in the process. Have fun - read to children. Readers should read in their native language.

Children benefit from being read to from birth - babies, pre-talkers (less than 50 words), talkers, and preschool children. Babies are a fairly captive audience, short attention spans and eyesight that is still developing. A newborn does not see clearly past 12 inches or so. Pre-talkers can see better, are still relatively captive, and also have short attention spans. Talkers also are crawlers - so they are mobile and easily distracted to other things.

Kindergarten, first-graders, and second-graders love being read to as well. This write has never has so much fun - sharing books with young primary students in a school media center is a rewarding experience! How can a person have a bad day when they are reading Corduroy (by Don Freeman) to Kindergarten students!

When schools and libraries set up story times, they choose themes. This can also be done at home, but it is probably enough to just talk about pictures or a book before sharing. This develops narrative skills. If a child can relate their experiences to the book, it will also make it easier for them to pay attention and follow the story.

Kids love repetition - it's a powerful tool to building memory. When a child enjoys the same story again and again, it shows that they are learning. Think about different ideas and perspectives that a book suggests - when re-reading a book, find new ways to talk about it.

When asking a child a question, be sure to give them time to answer - slowly count to 5 to yourself. Remember, there are no "wrong" answers. Strive to give children positive feedback and redirect their attention if you happen to ask a question they are not ready to answer.

Sharing stories, board books, and picture books with children can all be used to develop early literacy skills - the key is how the story or book is shared. We can build narrative skills and vocabulary based on how we share books with children.

One-To-One Versus Group

As we have seen above, it's the entire experience of a story time that makes it beneficial to a child. When we share a book with a child, we are sharing a caring environment. We are demonstrating to that child that they are important. If we hold a child on our lap while we read, it is always an intimate, loving time for both parent and child.

Interacting with a child on an individual-level is always a better way to interact and build early literacy skills. Children enjoy a time to share one-to-one with adults. They benefit from these interactions. Engaging a child in a dialog is the best way to nurture language development.

Let's be clear - in a group situation, it is not possible to engage each child simultaneously in a meaningful dialog. When we can talk to individual children (or perhaps a very small group of 2, no more than 3), we can give that child our undivided attention. No one is excluded from the conversation.

We can engage that child based on their interests and attention span. We can direct a conversation based on that child's readiness. We can redirect that conversation as needed. We can listen to what a child says and promptly respond. The child can ask questions. The child gets immediate answers.

One-to-one means that the child can state their ideas or ask questions. It no longer matters if a child is shy - a one-to-one exchange feels more comfortable. If a child needs more time, they get it. The entire experience is centered around them.

In a group setting, a discussion has to be directed in a way that often do not reflect the interests or needs of any one child - the goal is to keep the group moving along. Unfortunately, when we lead a group discussion, each line of questioning means another line of questions was not followed.

We can create valuable story times with groups of children. We need to understand the limitations of this format. We need to structure group readings to engage each students. It helps to get more of the senses involved - music, touch, motion, taste, smell, pictures, video, multimedia.

When possible, try to find ways to engage children one-to-one (or pairs) after they share a group story time. This will be easier to do if the story time engaged the group, encouraging to think and share along with the story they are hearing. Try to find ways that they tell the story with you. The process of helping children become the teller of the story is called dialogic reading.

Dialogic Reading

Reading to children is important, but it is also important to think about HOW we read to children. To benefit from story times, children need to be involved. The traditional way of reading a book builds listening skills. If we want to help children get ready to read, we want to do more.

Dialogic reading gets a child involved as an active participant or even a storyteller. Start by choosing books that children can participate in, books that repeat words for children to say, that invite children to respond through the story, or provide opportunities to ask "what happens next?" It is easiest to use books that:

Creating a more engaging story time, having children become the story tellers can be done in steps.

  1. Read the book as written, asking children to identify parts of the action illustrated by the pictures and having children repeat any phrases that are used repetitiously in the book.
  2. Choose a page from he book with an attractive picture that illustrates action. Ask children "what" questions (what they are seeing, what is happening, what will happen next, etc...). Be prepared to give children time to answer - they are still developing these skills.
  3. Extend the answers they give you. For example, if they say, "the pigeon found a hot dog", you could say, "yes, the pigeon found a hot dog, a hot dog in a bun that is half eaten.
  4. Ask children to repeat your extended answer. Be prepared to give children time to restate the extended answer - they are still developing these skills.
  5. DO NOT ask questions that can be answered yes/no or by pointing

Traditional story times emphasize listening skills and promote an understanding of the continuity of a story (beginning, middle, and end). Developing this type of "sense of a story" is important, but so are other early literacy skills.

Dialogic reading builds vocabulary and narrative skills. It helps children relate a story to their life experiences. To get the most of story times, children should hear stories in different ways. As always, the book should be fun for the children and for the reader. We motivate children to read when they see us enjoy great books.

Try incorporating dialogic reading into story times. It takes some practice to feel comfortable with it, but it is fun for both the children and adults present. Children enjoy being part of the story telling. You will enjoy the creative ways children share ideas about books.

Dialogic story times probably take more time. It is probably harder to plan how long a given book will take to share, but, with practice, you will become comfortable using this interactive approach, adopting it to fill whatever time constraints you have to work with.

Please think of dialogic reading as another tool in your early literacy toolbox. Try to find ways to use different styles and formats when you share books with children.

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