Be a Friend – Read Stories Aloud

Listeners of any age are drawn into another world by an expressive reader, with a good book.

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Not everyone is a storyteller. We can, however, read books aloud with feeling. As a human experience, reading loud arouses curiosity and is essentially interactive, pleasure-able, and informative.

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Reading aloud fluently puts the life back into words on the page. It’s a step towards oral storytelling, creating a strong bond between reader and listener.

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Babies in the womb pick up voice vibrations at 16 weeks. Singing nursery rhymes and reading picture books to the baby from that time on … works! Oracy  – all that spoken interaction – is the vital foundation for literacy.

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Reading “with expression,” or fluently, is an acquired skill.  We learn by listening to a fluent reader who engages us, using the ‘melody’ (intonation) of their voice.

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New research into young learners shows that listening to a text read aloud is more instructive than everyday talking – the imagination is stimulated, more parts of the brain “fire” at once, while memory, as well as vocabulary, increases.

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As my friend Naomi B. commented so eloquently, listening to stories

“helps them hear the language and its patterns, and eventually it will help them understand the structure and elements of a good story. I believe that growing up hearing stories all the time, every day, helps them recognise and appreciate the stories all around them, and it is much more likely that they will learn and love to create and tell stories of their own.”

Thank you, dear Friend

And,  just in case you have the time to watch a 9:29 min TedX talk

“Why We Should All Be Reading Aloud To Children | Rebecca Bellingham | Tedxyouth@Beaconstreet” YouTube. (9.29) Dec, 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

See also this week’s inspiring post ‘1-800-Viola Swamp’ in A Teacher’s Reflections by Jennie. Please click the link to learn the power of reading aloud in her Early Years classroom.

Reference:  REESE, Elaine. Tell Me a Story: Sharing Stories to Enrich Your Child’s Life. Auckland, OUP, 2013.

All text (except quote) and photos in this post by Meg (except B&W and second last image which are published with permission) are Australian Copyright protected. © 2017 Meg Philp

Story Twigs the Imagination! © Meg Philp

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What are those characters saying?

A storyteller has to carry all the characters inside her self. She uses words, expression and imagination to make them real and come alive in a story.

What story characters say and then do, carries the plot along to a resolution. Not only that, but all the different ways they might speak make an impact on the meaning made.

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Statue of La Fontaine with the fox and the crow

Some stories have only two main characters like La Fontaine’s fable “The Fox and the Crow.”  The fox outwits the gullible crow through flattery. Fox will say anything to get that cheese. The crow feels stupid.

In some versions the fox is male and the crow is female. Here’s a version featuring Master Reynard and Mistress Crow http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/FoxCrow.shtml

Might crows be either gender, or maybe both? Flattery is a common human foible to help a person get what they want

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It’s what characters say and how they say it that is so loaded. ” How well you look today, my dear. Your beautiful feathers are so glossy. How finely chiselled is the nose on your noble head. If only we could cut the ties that bind and fly away together!” Hmm.

What characters look like and how they dress can give more clues as to what they might say. (Be wary with stereotypes.)

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The two of them may have known each other for long time and saying nothing says a lot.

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or like the Crow and the Fox, they have just met.

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They may both want the same thing and agree to share.

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But stories rely on conflict being resolved: finding solutions to problems.

Are they earnestly competing with each other? Is there money at stake? Might one be a poor loser?
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This argument stopped me in my tracks. I heard their angry voices first.

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As soon as I put the camera down, he took her arm, and kissed her and she kissed him back.

That’s one problem solved.

But wait, there’s more! Story characters keep on coming. Thank goodness.

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PS. Listen to this recording of actor Jonathan Pryce reading ‘The Fox and Crow’ aloud. He’s reading rather fast, for my liking, but he is using his voice like a storyteller. Listen to how his voice makes the characters come to life. He uses all the variations his voice can offer to sound ‘fox-like’ – pitch, tone, volume and timing.

Longer pauses and visualising the story, as you tell, helps listeners see the character and believe they are real, as well as keeping up with the action.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schoolradio/subjects/english/aesops_fables/1-8/fox_crow

PPS. Doesn’t the birdsong, in the audio background, take you into the woods.

All text and photos by Meg

 Story Twigs …! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.