Tips on how to improve your storytelling

A mum holds the gingerbread man kamishibai story in a frame and is reading to her son who is facing her eating a gingerbread man biscuit

In this blog, I hope to share some useful tips on how to improve your storytelling. One major impact on storytelling is the area in which you chose to tell your story. In my last blog, I spoke about setting the scene. This was about creating the ideal space for storytelling, be it indoors or outdoors. You can read my last blog here. Once your story corner/area is perfected you should feel more confident about sitting down to tell a story.

 Confidence is a key factor in being a good storyteller. Can you be confident about what you are reading if you are not familiar with the book you are reading? I recently read an article ‘Story Telling – Best Practice’ by Wendy Bowkett, a highly experienced early years practitioner and author who mentions “Most importantly, though, aways chose a story that you like, enjoy and know well.” In this article, Wendy is talking about telling a story rather than reading a story from a book, but I think the advice should be the same. Knowing the story you are about to read greatly enhances your storytelling performance as the familiarity gives you confidence. This confidence will improve your storytelling.

Have you ever grabbed a book from the book rack on your way to sitting down at story time? A book picked at random is rarely a good idea. Being familiar with what you are reading makes the experience more enjoyable for your audience and yourself. If you feel confident about what you are reading it will show and will make you more appealing to the children. Imagine your body language when you are wearing your favourite outfit and you’ve just had your hair done, you have that Salon Selectives ‘just stepped out of the salon’ feeling don’t you? Now imagine you slept in and didn’t even have time for a shower, you grabbed at some clothes which happened to be what you were wearing yesterday…how do you feel this time? How you feel inside is usually obvious to everyone looking at you so choosing the right book is key and is a great way to improve your storytelling.

You might even want to consider planning your book choice for the week. Having a strong collection of core books in your story corner is a great start and, I feel is best practice. Knowing you have a good selection of books will certainly make choosing the right book much easier. If you need help collating a list of core books there are many useful sites online. I can recommend the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) who have a core book list you can access if you register with them. ‘The Core Booklist has been published by CLPE since 1996. It is a selection of carefully chosen texts for teachers to use when they are developing collections for their classrooms and schools as part of their reading and literacy programmes. The list demonstrates the key role that children’s literature can play across the curriculum, and in forwarding children’s progress as readers. The books are chosen because they support children learning to read and in their development as readers.’ You can access their site here.

Take time to read some of the books in the book corner at any time. Of course, you won’t find yourself reading the book alone for very long before a child wants to join you. Reading one to one or with a small number of children is also a good way to build up your confidence for the bigger groups and will help you to become more familiar with a wider range of books.

Once you have built up your confidence and your repertoire you could try as Wendy Bowkett suggested to tell your favourite story without reading it from a book. Go on, you can do it!

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