Telling stories to children

By Jacqueline Harding. Reading stories out loud to your toddler really encourages your child's listening skills.

father reading book to children


Although there's no doubt that children love stories, picking the right moment to tell them seems to make all the difference. And bedtime need not be the only occasion to tell a story - in the car or waiting in a queue are also great opportunities for a story or two.

The answer to choosing the best time seems to lie in catching your child at the right moment, capturing their imagination and then starting to spin a wonderful yarn. This can be with the aid of a book (try not to bury your head in it - children love to see your facial reactions, plus it adds to the fun), or the tale can come straight from your imagination.

True stories of when you were a child are marvellous too, and you might find you are being asked to repeat them time and time again.

How CBeebies can help

For inspiration as to the sort of stories that young children enjoy, why not snuggle up with your child and watch the Bedtime Story on CBeebies each night?

Or you could browse some of the stories on the CBeebies website - look in the 'Story Time' and 'Watch & Listen' sections. There are hundreds of short clips and stories to choose from and they are also grouped into seven different themes.

How to make a magic moment

How magical can it be for a child to find themselves at the centre of a story?

All you need to do is think of a particular interest your child has at this moment, e.g. it might be dinosaurs. So, just weave in a story about your child going on an adventure and meeting a dinosaur. Lots of different things can happen in the middle of the story - but it works well if your child just happens to be a hero and saves the day!

Make sure the tell ends on a happy note. At this age, children need satisfying, well-rounded endings. Oh, and do add a loud 'The End' as you finish your story - children love it!

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Expert opinion

A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.

CS Lewis, Novelist and author of children's classic 'The Chronicles of Narnia'

Top tips

  • How about making a story up for your child at bedtime?Car journeys are often the best time to tell your child stories - and the more imaginative the story, the better!You may find that your child wants to hear the same story over and over again. That's fine, just try to be patient.Browse the Story Time section on the CBeebies website. There are loads of great stories to choose from. You could watch a few with your child or use some of them to give you inspiration for a tale of your own.

Parent's tale

When reading the story, make sure you read it so that the rhyming words are clear, and soon the children will finish the rhymes for you, and then they'll start looking at the words and asking which word is 'xxx' and which word is 'yyy'.

Sharon, From Portsmouth

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