Get interactive with books this National Storytelling Week
National Storytelling Week runs from 26 Jan to 2 Feb, and this country-wide celebration of the written word is the ideal opportunity to get creative with how you tell stories to your special needs child. And it’s not only youngsters who love a night-time read – adults with special needs also revel in the act of storytelling and can really relish the chance to escape into the imagination.
Best of all, storytelling these days is not limited to reading a book at bedtime. Storytelling can be done anywhere, anytime, and it can be incredibly interactive as well. So why not start practicing your voices and actions now and make enjoying a story together a fun new habit for all the family!
There’s nothing more special than feeling like a book is written about you, so change the name of the main character to your child’s name. It will help them relate to the tale and make it even more fun.
Find, make or buy little items that are featured in a story to help bring it to life. Sensory-rich objects can conjure up the feelings, smells and sounds of the tale as you read. So, if Jack and the Beanstalk is the chosen book, get some dry kidney beans. Or if it’s a story in a desert, have a bowl of sand to hand.
It’s important to have good eye contact when telling a story and to use your facial expressions to show the emotions of the story. Try to sound positive and have confidence in what you are doing.
Even if you feel silly and like you’re not doing a good job, do give characters different voices or accents.
We all use our hands while talking and the same should go for storytelling. Use simple hand signals that your child can replicate for certain elements, such as opening and closing hands for stars, waving hello and goodbye and so on.
Repetition has special value and can reinforce a message. Don’t be afraid to say something again in a slightly different way if you think it will help your child better follow the story. And encourage them to get involved – the classic pantomime repertoire of “He’s behind you!” and “Oh no he isn’t!” is always a crowd-pleaser.
Make the most of the technology at your fingertips and use storytelling apps on your smartphone, tablet or laptop. Audiobooks are also great for helping older ones drift off to sleep with a soothing voice.
Singing along or using background music to help the tale come to life can be really exciting. And it’s interactive too.
Multi-sensory book bags have everything you need to make storytelling interactive. Each book comes with props and accessories to bring the tale to life.