I have taught 4 and 5 year olds for many years. One of my most loved things to do with them was to read picture books. Every year, my goal was to read at least 1000 stories to my children. We achieved this goal and every year the result was a bunch of super passionate storytellers who loved literature.
When starting this journey, with my children, I would read to them my favourites, talk about all the things I loved about the story, the pictures, the author, and the illustrator. Then we would come in close and read the story together. We would dance and sing and act out the tale with gusto and nearly every time peels of laughter would ensue. We would then go on to excitedly talk about all the different parts of the story, identifying which parts were the best and reasons for our choices (because we are all love different things). We would talk about the ‘off shoot’ adventures too. Sometimes we would get so caught up in one section of the story we would create our own plot and forget to finish reading the actual book. Every story time became a wonderful celebration of fantastic literature.
The children also got on board with the fun and started bringing in their favourite stories from home. Some loved the story so much they had memorised the tale and recited it for us. This is emergent literacy and super important to the development of confident readers and should never be undervalued. The children were so proud of themselves and we all got crazy excited for them. For those who just loved having the story read to them we would gather again, in a huddle, and read expectantly. We would have voices to share, giggles and specialised knowledge to contribute. It was a powerful time to build relationship and strengthen creativity and imagination.
These story times, lost in adventure, meant that literacy was highly valued in our learning space. Children were finding words they knew everywhere. These words mattered so they stood out to them – a very human response. Their literacy awareness levels soared. Everyday became like a hidden treasure game, with everyone searching and discovering letters, sounds and words which they knew and identified with. Consequently literacy was celebrated all the time and with it grew a deep and abiding passion.