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Vera Waters
Storytelling tips from Vera Waters

Top Ten Tips for Storytelling

Vera Waters is known internationally as an inspirational speaker and author.

Americans call her the 'stemwinder' which means storyteller.

Her background as a family counsellor and parenting practitioner means she's also well qualified in the value of parents reading and telling stories to their children.

Her favourite pastime is writing for her children and grandchildren.

She's taking part in BBC RaW Cities, working with childminders and parents in storytelling workshops.

Here are Vera's top ten tips on storytelling and reading for parents with children:

1.  Young children watch adults.  They are born mimics and love to copy.  If they see you reading a book they will want to do the same.  It's never too soon to start.  Colourful board books are great for babies. They not only look at the colourful illustrations but with your help they can learn to turn the pages, to get a sense of achievement. Together you can enjoy the adventure of the written and spoken word while experiencing the privilege of entering the child's world. Most libraries run Bookstart events for families with little ones.

Mother and child
Reading helps you bond with your child

2.  Empathy is important when storytelling.  Look at the world as though you are experiencing it from a different angle. Stand in the shoes of your child; he sees the world in his own way. Imagine that you are the child listening to the story.

3.  Think about the words you use, the characters, the imaginary world you create.

4.  Before you start, take time to think about an intriguing way to begin your story. You need to capture the attention of your audience from the very beginning.

5.  When storytelling eye contact is important. Change your facial expressions to illuminate the story. Try to sound positive, have confidence.

6.  Give your characters different voices...the billy goat Gruff needs to sound 'gruff'.

7.  The child with a short concentration span needs special consideration.  Keep your story short and funny. Discuss simple hand signals that the child can use to join in with the mood of the tale.

8.  Participation is key. Your audience need to feel that they are a part of the story.

9.  Repetition has special value. Think of the pantomime's you enjoyed, the involvement e.g: 'He's behind you... Oh no he's not!!'

10. Who ever you are, you can tell a story. Life is full of stories. Take an ordinary toy  and animate it with a special voice and personality. Tell your story with love in your heart!

last updated: 05/01/07
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