How to Make Storytelling Fun and Interactive

by Tom Briggs, Diary of the Dad

I’m a dad to three and have been reading to my kids since day one – which I can’t believe is almost a
decade ago – so am no stranger to bedtime stories. My older two children read to themselves now and, with my youngest off to school in September, I know my days of reading to her are numbered.
This is a great shame as I’ve absolutely loved reading to all three of them. So, to make the most of it before I swap reading for listening and helping with word formation, I’ll be continuing to do the following to make storytelling fun and interactive…

Give characters voices

I believe that giving different characters their own voices always adds something, so my lot are
familiar with a range of regional accents. Geordie is my favourite, for the record. In fact, youngest now tells me off if I don’t do them for any reason, so she clearly gets a lot out of stories being read this way.

Discuss the plot

When I studied English Literature at university, I never thought I would end up dissecting the plot of
books for under-fives – but here I am! Asking young children why they think characters did things and how they may have felt can provide some fascinating insights and some brilliantly random conversations.

Do mini quizzes

The early-reader books young children bring home from school are great for many reasons, including
the fact that they often include questions at the end. Kids love being tested on the story they’ve just enjoyed, so I often ask my youngest about key moments as well as minor details.

Get them out of their comfort zone

Children are creatures of habit and don’t mind repetition. This is all very well, but I think it’s
important that they also get plenty of variety. So in our house we’ve introduced a rule – the youngest picks one book and I pick another ‘mystery’ title. This has worked wonders as she now no longer necessarily gravitates to the same story every day like she did before.

Let them turn the pages

Yes, it can be annoying when a young child doesn’t give you long enough to read a chunk of rhyming
couplets, but allowing them to turn pages themselves is a great way of getting them into reading for
life. Plus, when they do turn them too quickly, you can make this fun and interactive by reading really
quickly or making up alternative endings! The shared experience is as important as the literacy skills,
after all.

So those are my tips for making storytelling more fun and interactive.
Tag us on social and tell us your storytime tips: @SweetCherryPub and @DiaryoftheDad.

Tom Briggs is a proud dad of three and founder of Diary of the Dad, one of the UK’s longest-running dad blogs.