Reading stories and story telling in class

I was listening to Word of Mouth on Radio 4 the other day, a programme about language and words and this week it was about bedtime story telling - a dying art/habit? Well worth a listen - this week or any other. Particularly if you’re into words, language, history, etymology that kind of stuff.

So this week was about reading and telling stories to kids. One professional contributor (educator, child development professional - can’t remember) said it is valuable up to about the age of 12 although the consensus seemed to be that 7 was closer to the reality for most. I can’t remember when I stopped having bedtime stories.

So, how about story telling in class in Taiwan? The “reading” class! Do you have the children read? Or read to them? Do you improvise stories? Any particular techniques? Is it hard to convince Laoban or parents of the value?

A number of writers in ELT have some superb ideas on using stories in the classroom. Once Upon a Time, written over 25 years ago by John Morgan and Mario Rinvolucri, has interesting stories and suggestions on how to use them. I can also recommend two recent titles, Storybuilding by Jane Spiro (Oxford University Press), and Writing Stories by Andrew Wright and David A. Hill (Helbling Languages).

TPRS teachers teach the whole language through stories – telling them and reading them.
You can find more information online (try the Yahoo groups group called moreTPRs) or the national convention will be in San Antonio, Texas this summer the third week of July.

Pathetic. I listened to just the first minute of that program – just enough to hear that only 3% of fathers in Britain read to their kids (though I don’t remember if it said what age kids and that’s obviously relevant) – and that was all I needed to hear. Yes we’re all very busy, but that’s just pure laziness, selfishness, ignorance, etc. If one makes the decision to bring a child into the world, one really owes an obligation to read to/with them regularly as it will make all difference in the world. Since our girl was a baby I’ve read to her at least 4 or 5 days a week and there’s nothing she enjoys more than language. On the other hand, I have friends who never read to their kids at all and who claim their kids aren’t interested in books. Duh, what a surprise. Oh well, to each his own, but there’s nothing mysterious about it in my opinion.

As for what one can do as a teacher? I guess getting lots of fun books, of the appropriate level and with good text and illustrations, and reading to them regularly in school can only help enhance what they’re already getting, or not getting, at home.

Incidentally, I’ve been to lots of local branches of Taiwan’s public libraries and most of them can be somewhat disappointing in one way or another, but ALL of them have at least a full armload of good English childrens’ books. I know, because we have two library cards, so we can check out 10 books at once and we usually do (to supplement our own ample collection). :slight_smile:

I was reading aloud to my kid last night. It was fun and he seemed to enjoy it. The book was Porno by Irvine Welsh and he seemed to especially enjoy the part where Terry “Juice” Lawson breaks his penis while filming a scene (although it could have been my sound effects that set him off).

My grandfather read to me in sometimes in German and more often in French. My parents didn’t, although they may have done when I was really small. I read a huge amount as a child because I had no TV, no computer, no radio and was not allowed to make any noise because my grandfather was ill or to go into town alone. If you want your child to read more, try to make sure she is under-stimulated, basically. It’s a trade-off.

I used to read to students sometimes, although I didn’t teach anklebiters for more than a few months. The problem with a class is that it’s hard for them to all gather round the book, so it’s not really a huge departure from any other kind of edutainment I was rolling out. ‘Big Books’ rule, but they are really expensive. Certainly worth doing, but not a replacement for parental reading. Individual, one to one reading is more beneficial as the kids connect the yap mummy’s coming out with with the words and pics on the page.

The ‘downsides’ (not that they are actual downsides, just other aspects) are that obviously it’s more to do with the social contact than actual reading. Learning to read earlier gives a child no educational or intellectual advantage; they just do it slower and less accurately when younger, so arguably it’s a waste of time from that point of view. Play is probably more important for their development. Also, if kids connect it with being in bed and being with mummy with her sole attention, then they may be uninterested in doing it at other times.

sandman, cracking sequel action there. Getting them away from children’s books asap is pretty important. Those things are pure shite. Have you read ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’? Poor character development, very loose plot and some glaring factual inaccuracies. The wee tadpole’s quite young. You could get him started on ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ and he’d be done by puberty. Did you know, they actually publish books for ‘young adults’, now? Heh!

For anyone interested, I don’t know how you’d go with the copyright laws, but you could scan a book and then use a projector. I’ve used a website with scanned books that way.

You could also check out this website:

You pay an annual subscription for a class and then you can download and use all of their materials. I will probably use that in the future.

They also have a sister site for teaching science that looks fairly good.

The best thing I did fo my son was to give hima copy of C.S. Forster’s Mr. Midshipman Hornblower as soon as he could read a full sentence. I helped with the big words. Taught him that there was more to books than strange talking animals.

I’m a bit of a failure when it comes to reading for youg girls. She’s been a bit slower with the reading so I got her some Charles Adams anthologies and we read a book written by my Grandmother, “The Beejum Story”, which is a bit of an autobiograohical story.

I used to read them Beastly Boys & Ghastly Girls when they were very young and when I told that Grims Fairytales were scary and, well, grim, they made me go buy a copy and read it to them.

When I was four, my dad recorded some of my favorite Dr. Suess stories. Saved himself relentless requests for repeat readings, and gave me extra reason to follow the printed words with my eyes as I heard them so I’d know when to turn the page. I remember thinking it was fun manipulating the big clunky buttons on that primitive 1960s tape recorder as well.

We have a lot of books in our school. Once a month we go downstairs and get new ones for the month. Before I read a book to them I usually draw a bunch of things that are in the book (like a rabbit, a pan, a door etc) and ask the kids to look out for these things. Then we tick or colour the poster and keep it in the class. It’s also handy if you want to review later and ask what the character did with the pan etc.

I was surprised to find that my grade 4 and 5 kids love hearing stories. I use it as a special treat if we finish our classwork early.

This is almost the end of the semester now, so today I am going to get them to write their own story and then I will illustrate it and print out a copy for everyone as a graduation gift.

Although going by previous efforts - the story will probably involve ninja robots that kill everyone and then play basketball :laughing:

If you are teaching in a school with limited big book supplies, you can borrow from a really good selection available at the Gienguo Sth Road branch of Taipei City Library’s Children’s Library. It’s in the basement of the main library. A lot of the big books come with cassette tapes.

I’ve just started a “story diary” with my own children. Each day, they draw a picture on a piece of paper and then they dictate the story to me. I write it down for them. My son (5) reads them back to himself, and my daughter (3) gets me to read it again and again and… My daughter’s are mostly about terrible cousins stinking like poo poo. My son’s are somewhat more civilised. I did this activity with my preschool classes when I was teaching, and we collected all the stories into four folders, so kids could reach others’ in their free time.

Preschoolers also liked read-alouds, where they couldn’t see any pictures. It really gets children’s imaginations working to have to conjour up the images themselves. But I had to allow a lot of time for questions, to make sure the children understood what was going on, especially in the beginning.