Teaching the art of storytelling

JUST FOR PARENTS

Advice and strategies to help your children read

January 06, 2002

Children learn about narrative writing through listening and reading, but they can also learn to appreciate narration through storytelling. This ancient tradition has been a means for passing stories along through the ages and around the world. The ideas for stories may come from a fairy tale, a folk tale or a real-life situation. The fun in storytelling is in being able to make the story come alive through sounds and gestures. Storytelling is a way to emphasize your child's one-of-a-kind imagination.

STEPS TO STORYTELLING

* Read a story aloud while your child closes his eyes. Ask him what he saw in his mind's eye. Then ask him to write it out.

* Start retelling by making an outline of your child's version of the story, including a beginning, middle and end. Simplify the plot into a sequence of events and place each onto index cards with short sections of the tale for practice. Where does the story take place? Who are the characters? What problem may occur? How is the problem resolved?

* If your child is inclined to do so, have him draw some pictures. It'll also remind him of story details.

* Keep props (hats, a piece of furniture, stuffed animal) to a minimum.

* Some storytellers stand very still, and some are quite animated. Encourage your child to try different voices and gestures to help the story come to life.

* If your child wishes, videotape the production for a treasured keepsake.

EXTENSION ACTIVITIES

* Play "Circle Story," where one person begins a tale and leaves off at a critical point, then the next person picks up the story thread and continues until each person has had a turn or until the final outcome.

* Involve other family members.

STORY STARTERS

Anansi the Spider , by Gerald McDermott

The Elephant's Child, by Rudyard Kipling

Flossie and the Fox, by Patricia C. McKissack

Lon Po-Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China, by Ed Young

Frog and the Toad All Year , by Arnold Lobel

Tikki Tikki Tembo, retold by Arlene Mosel

-- Susan Rapp

Village Reading Center

Keeping kids busy after the holidays

Having a hard time keeping your kids busy post-holidays? Or is their energy level so supercharged you want them to channel it toward more productive ends? Whatever the reason, The Children's Busy Book: 365 Creative Games and Activities to Keep Your 6- to 10-Year-Old Busy, by Trish Kuffner (Meadowbrook Press, www.meadowbrookpress.com, $9.95) has activity enough for the entire year.

Kuffner separates chapters by types of activities: rainy-day play, cooking, outdoor fun, travel diversions, homework helpers, family history, arts and crafts, and holiday-themed recipes and games.

Homework helpers is the section that might prove most beneficial for kids heading back to school after fun-filled vacation days. Kids can learn how address books help their writing and organizational skills; how to make maps; and how treasure hunts around the house can lead to increased mathematical acumen.

-- Athima Chansanchai

New York Times Best Sellers List: Children's Picture Books

Editor's Note: The children's best-seller list has three categories -- picture books, chapter books and paperbacks -- which are published in rotation, one category per week.

1. Olivia Saves the Circus, by Ian Falconer (weeks on list: 15)

2. Olivia, by Ian Falconer (65)

3. Monsters, Inc., adapted by Catherine Hapka (8)

4. Stranger in the Woods, by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick (15)

5. You Read to Me, I'll Read to You, by Mary Ann Hoberman (3)

6. I Spy: Year-Round Challenger! by Jean Marzollo (4)

7. If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, by Laura Numeroff (24)

8. Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury, by Jan Brett (5)

9. I'll Be Home for Christmas, by Holly Hobbie (9)

10. The Water Hole, by Graeme Base (2)

Contact us

The Sun invites readers to send in tips about encouraging children to read, and we will print them on this page or on sunspot.net, our place on the Internet. Please include your name, town and daytime phone number. Send suggestions by fax to 410-783-2519; by e-mail to sun.features@baltsun.com; or by mail to Reading by 9 Parent Tips, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.

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