15 Minutes of Family Fun – Story retelling

15 Minutes of Family Fun – Story retelling

15 Minutes of Family Fun – Story retelling

Date posted: January 10, 2014

Story Retelling involves having your child tell you one of their favourite, familiar stories using their own words. While you can encourage their storytelling with leading questions, accept what they are able to retell. This is their version of the story, and it doesn’t have to be word for word or include every detail to support literacy development.

Here’s what to do:

  • Select a story with a predictable plot and memorable characters. A repetitive, easy-to remember plot and few characters works best for young children.
  • Read your child the story. Actively engage them in the reading. Before you start, look at the book’s cover and ask your child to predict what will happen. After reading, talk about the story – the events that happened, the characters in the story.
  • Reread the story several times. Keep it an interactive experience by continuing to ask questions and make comments. Once the story is familiar, you can stop occasionally and let your child complete a sentence or phrase. You and your child can also act out the story or draw pictures about the story.
  • Ask the child to retell the story. If they get off track or run out of ideas, prompt them with open-ended questions. Be responsive to what they’re saying. (Some children might like to act out the story, preferring dramatic play as a way of story retelling.)

What are the benefits of doing this? Research indicates that toddler and preschooler story retelling enhances literacy and language development. It’s particularly effective when the story is related to the child’s interests or personal experience, when time has been taken to introduce or explain the story, and when the child has been asked questions during the story reading. Story retelling benefits a child’s understanding of words and their ability to express themselves verbally. It also supports their understanding of the elements of a story, such as characters and sequence of events, and encourages active listening.

Here’s a 2 year old retelling Jack and the Beanstalk. He clearly knows this story well.

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