Thursday, 1 March 2018

Snuggle up with a story

Katie Crouch, Early Years Consultant
Twitter: @crunchiekatie

The 21st World Book Day is fast approaching on the 1st of March. This celebration of books and the love for literature can be a great opportunity for you to connect with children through a joy of reading and story-telling. We asked our alumni/Norlanders (graduated nannies in practice) about how they celebrate books with their charges.

From the responses we received, the most popular book enjoyed by children and their nannies is the Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson.

“This is us in the deep, dark woods, we like to read it
in the woods and spot signs of the Gruffalo.”
Lorraine Smitham – Set 15

Many books, including the Gruffalo, lend themselves to opportunities to explore different voices of characters. This could be the big, low voice of a giant or the small, high voice of an ant. As children become familiar with stories they may enjoy making their own ways of representing characters through voices or acting out roles.

Books also help to plant the seeds of imagination and lay the foundations of the children’s own story telling skills. This is particularly the case with books that are designed to have no text. The pictures on the pages of these books help your child to be able to build their ideas of what is happening. This means that the child has no pressure to read the letters and sounds in front of them, instead they have the joy of using their imagination to tell a story using the pictures and your conversation as inspiration. Some of the best stories can come from this approach.

“One of our favourite books to read is Winnie the Witch, my charge and
I just love Willbur the cat, he is such a character.”
 Abbie Starkie – Set 16

As children become more confident they may want to be able to read to you and use reading as a form of escape to a fantasy world. In our digital age, children can crave for paper rather than screens and of course reading and exploring books can be a great way to use a story as a theme to encourage other learning.

Picture courtesy of Sarah Wilder (nee Cotterill) - Set 25

Sarah Wilder is a Nursery Manager in Dover. Her setting used The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a focus for learning across age groups. “We connected this with our healthy eating topic. We used safe knife skills and cut up new fruits.” Sarah also describes how the setting had two caterpillars which the children watched developing every day and ultimately releasing them as butterflies. “The feedback from parents has been overwhelmingly positive. It shows that a simple book can be taken on a huge journey of discovery and learning!” Sarah Wilder (nee Cotterill) – Set 25.

Snuggling up to share a story is a great opportunity to connect with your children; books can help to raise questions which may have been playing on their mind. Children cherish time together with you and doing this through a love of books is a great way to give them attention, nurture and comfort whilst also building a positive connection between affection and books. Children will begin to associate books and stories with their special time with you, empowering them to love books and to enjoy time with them from a young age. Sharing a gaze at a book with a baby is a great way to bond and relax together. No one is too young or too old, to share a book with someone.

Picture courtesy of Melanie Hastings – Set 31

Stories and books really do have the ability to calm and excite; they can make you feel happy or sad. But most importantly, books can help you to connect with each other, planting the seeds of infinite possibilities for the imagination and opportunities for learning. So, if you find yourself having 10 minutes spare, pull out your favourite book and share it with someone special. Happy reading!

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