Make your storytelling sessions interesting
MY teacher at kindergarten used to bore me when she read to us during story time. She read the tale correctly, not missing a word, and pausing for every comma with professional precision, but absolutely without life.
A year later, in the second year of kindergarten, we were read to by Mrs Schaap.
She raced through some parts, slowed up for others and I’m sure she skipped bits, but man, could she tell a story!
Malaysia has an amazing history of storytelling: if you go to the longhouses in Sarawak, the old folks can tell you tales that have been handed down for generations. Like Mrs Schaap, they are adept at captivating their audience.
However, as we have access to stories told by professional actors on radio, television, and DVDs, those of us who are younger tend not to have learned the art. When it comes to cultivating the kids to take up reading as a hobby, getting our inner raconteur up to speed can be a problem.
When you’re reading to the kids, here are some tips:
1) Know the story. All actors rehearse their lines, so pre-read the tale, and get a feel of where there’s drama, happiness, etc.
2) Forget your dignity. Drop the sensible, rational adult image; this is your chance to be a whale, a pixie or a princess
3) Maintain good eye contact when reading so you can monitor what works and what does not.
4) Go for fancy tricks. Give characters different voices or accents. Dangerous giants have deep voices; elves have tiny ones. And don’t forget to frown when characters are puzzled or to squeal when they are happy.