As parents, we all know storytime is an important job. Here are a few ways that might make it more fun for everyone—even you:
1. Play with the volume and tempo.
Think of a story like an amusement park ride. Ups and downs make it more fun. When you see all caps, get loud. If you reach a suspenseful moment, whisper. Read fast, then slow. A range of decibels and speeds will keep your audience holding on to your words a little tighter.
2. Try on an accent or two.
Terrible at accents? Your audience won’t know, and doesn’t care! They’ll appreciate the effort, or find it hilarious, or both. And if you want to start small, remember: anything in quotes gives you the perfect excuse to jump in and out of different voices for just a sentence (or word) at a time.
3. Insert a few sound effects.
Every action in a story has a sound, even though some may be more obvious than others. So make the most of all those onomatopoeic words like splash, whir, rumble, crash, or buzz. Take time to really draw the sounds out. (And a random, well-placed fart noise is always a winner.)
4. Make them guess.
One thing that really helps coach their growing noggins is to pause mid-story and get their take. Be sure to keep your questions open ended—things that can’t be answered with a yes or no: “Why do you think she made that choice?” or “What do you think happens next?”
5. Switch up the venue.
Do your children have the impression that storytime only happens in one spot? Try it in a pillow fort, or on a park bench, or behind the coats. Reading in a variety of places helps them to form new associations while their brains build those neural connections.
6. Venture off script.
A little improv goes a long way. Feel free to add in a brief detour about a side character that’s not getting much attention. Or make a glaring mistake on purpose. If your child knows that particular story by heart, they can’t help but to stop and correct you (which they kind of enjoy).
7. Give them a job.
That’s right, you don’t have to do all the work here. Let them choose the story, or be the page swiper, or put them in charge of sound effects, like: “Remember to say ‘rawr’ whenever you see the tiger.” Being read to will feel less passive, and more collaborative.
Did that feel like a lot? Don’t worry, this isn’t a checklist, so don’t get caught up trying to hit every one, every time. Go with what comes naturally first, then keep expanding your repertoire as you hone your style. Most of all, be sure to enjoy yourself. Your audience can always tell.