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A Tale to be Told



​Jo Bowers 

This week marks the 17th National Storytelling Week with events and activities planned across Wales to coincide with it.

Jo Bowers - Principal Lecturer in Primary Education (Literacy) - talks about the joy of both listening to and telling a good story, and the way such stories help to shape our world from a young age; expanding children's vocabularies, stretching their horizons and ability to learn.

With various activities planned to celebrate National Storytelling Week, this really is a great opportunity to seek out any organised storytelling sessions – or plan to create your own tales.

Telling a story you can remember well from your own childhood is a good way to really share it in your own individual way - told and enjoyed again and again with your children - or it could be a true story about yourself and your family or something purely from your imagination; funny stories never fail with youngsters, particularly involving people they know!

It's good to choose or create a story with repetition and rhyme as this offers the chance for children to join in with you when you're telling it. Some dramatic elements are good to include with memorable, standout characters and a satisfying end to the tale.

I cannot overestimate the importance of regular reading with children; reading aloud with youngsters from a young age has been proven to have a significant impact on both their initial literacy and the way in which they go on to both form and decode words. 

The stories we hear as children help to mould our views on life and the world around us.

Sharing stories with children can also help with their ability to deal with real-life situations, with research demonstrating that the brain activity that occurs when we read fiction is of a similar kind to that felt when experiencing a parallel real life situation.

While encouraging children to read by themselves is obviously so, so important, reading aloud with them gives them an added opportunity to engage and ask questions about what they are hearing, helping to naturally develop both reading ability as well as social and communication skills.

Hearing different patterns of language also widens a child's vocabulary.

Tips for getting the most out of story time include the obvious, 'choose a good time' – a relaxed, quiet time with no distractions.

If you have decided to create your own story to tell, you need to learn it and there are different ways that you can do this. It may be that you draw a series of pictures or images to sequence the story or a few simple sentences that offer a skeleton of the plot, with key words or phrases to help you remember; and make sure the story has a clear beginning and conclusive end.

To bring your story to life, make the most of facial expressions and different voices – and change the pace of what you say from slow to fast and excited. Sound effects are great too.

As you tell your story, be energetic, be enthusiastic, be confident but most of all enjoy the journey together!