The Importance of Group Story Time
It is a growing problem but a common fact that children are less interested in reading books as a single passive experience. If this is their sole experience of story time, we are in danger of them becoming disinterested in reading at all. The importance of regular storytelling in a group format has never been so important.
Children become engaged during story time because they construct mental images of the text events while it is being read aloud. When you provide them with a story that is vividly written, they become engaged with the text and actively respond to it. The use of picture books as stimulating text, not only for pre school aged children but for those in primary levels of education, provides a starting point in terms of creating a home or school culture that fosters engaged reading and aesthetic response. The interpretive tools that children use as they attempt to craft meaningful interpretations play a significant role in cognitive engagement and creative thinking.
One interpretative tool that has displayed for me the most cognitive engagement is when children relate the content of the text to their own personal experiences. When children are able to think about the text and make connections between the new information presented in the story and their store of background experiences, this allows them to be active and thoughtful about their interpretations.
Children often use this ability to make connections between familiar knowledge and incoming information in order to make predictions and inferences about characters, their motives and actions, as well as story events. If they can enter into shared reading knowing that their own unique set of interpretive tools has value, they find it easier to construct a meaningful connection and learn to work well in a collaborative environment.
We need to encourage children more often to open their tool boxes and apply those tools in ways that build team work and critical thinking. The collaborative effort of group story time means children, along with the story teller, can add pieces of information recalled from the text, earlier predictions or background knowledge to support and elaborate ideas which is a natural and organic encouragement of further reading. Each new piece of information added to the discussion becomes a new tool that can be used to see how they all fit together as a whole, allowing them to raise their own questions and topics for discussion and learn the intrinsic value of linking the process of reading to finding answers to their own concerns.
If you have had a similar experience with group story telling, I would love to hear from you in the comments.
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