Stories extend a child’s knowledge and understanding of their world and can challenge their imagination, extend their vocabulary and help develop listening and perception skills.
There are wonderful stories that can help children cope with new, often worrying situations, such as a visit to the doctor, the death of a pet or the arrival of a new baby.
But most of all, story sharing is fun.
To get lost together in the language, action, colour and humour of a good story can be a wonderful experience for a parent and child.
One way to make stories part of the playgroup experience is to set up a comfortable book reading area in a quiet corner.
The area can be made warm and inviting by having a large mat or carpet with cushions, bean bags, quilts or perhaps an old baby mattress available for lounging on.
If possible – a couch or sofa could provide a nice place for a mother feeding a baby (breast or bottle!) to cuddle up with an older child and share a story.
Books can be stored on a low shelf or in crates so they can be easily reached by children.
During your playgroup session, a special time can be set aside (such as after fruit time or at the end of a session) when all parents and children can sit together on a mat around a pile of books to share stories.
Babies, toddlers and small children love sitting close to an adult, either in little groups, or just cuddling their own parent to listen to a story.
They also like to choose their own book, touching and pointing to pictures and talking about what is happening in the story!
A short session like this can provide a time of warmth, enjoyment and quiet intimacy for the group.
It can also be a welcome break from the busy, sometimes noisy playgroup activities.
Reading with your little one teaches them the basics of how books work. For example, books are read front to back and words left to right in some cultures. Tracking the words with your finger reinforces this. Book sharing helps develop your child’s attention and concentration.
Books offer a wonderful bridge to talk about behaviour and emotions. For example, how a character feels, what he does when he feels that way, and what happens next.
Books with simple themes help children to better understand the world.