All entries for Monday 23 January 2012

January 23, 2012

Story Time, Storytelling

Storytelling is a wonderful part of childhood. Through it, children’s vivid imaginations are used to their full potential, dreaming about situations and scenarios, bringing colour and life to favourite stories that are told over and over throughout a child’s formative years. Reading to children enables them to access texts that would be too difficult for them to read alone. When they are being read to, children can use the energy that would be used in decoding the text, to concentrate on the structure of the story, on the shape of the genre, on the characterisation and use of language. As all of these are internalised by the child they become part of the child’s storytelling vocabulary: the bank of words and ideas that the child can draw on in their own story making and writing. Giving the children time and stimuli to tell stories to each other, through dialogue and role play, further reinforces the child’s confidence and creativity when it comes to their own written outcomes.

Both of the storytellers in the short video clips brought life to their respective stories. Both had clearly thought about their presentation and had a good command of intonation, facial expressions, annunciation, speed and emotional engagement with the characters in their respective texts. I particularly enjoyed the second storyteller who gave the different characters in his story different voices, delivering their speech in a convincing and often humorous way. He had quite obviously thought about what sort of characters they were and had chosen a voice for them accordingly. He brought warmth and likeability to the story in a way that the first storyteller, through his more intense and commanding style did not convey to the same degree.

Personal Philosophy about books and reading

First a few words form Northanger Abbey…

‘ They determined on walking round Beechen Cliff, that noble hill, whose beautiful verdure and hanging coppice render it so striking an object from almost every opening in Bath. ‘I never look at it,’ said Catherine, as they walked along the side of the river, ‘without thinking of the south of France.’ ‘You have been abroad, then?’ said Henry a little surprised. ‘Oh, no, I only mean what I have read about. It always puts me in mind of the country, that Emily and her father travelled through in the “Mysteries of Udolpho”. But you never read novels, I dare say?’

‘Why not?’

‘Because they are not clever enough for you; gentlemen read better books.’

‘The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. I have read all Mrs Radcliffe’s works, and most of them with great pleasure. The “Mysteries of Udolpho”, when I had once begun it, I could not lay it down again; I remember finishing it in two days, my hair standing on end the whole time.’

Whilst I am not advocating the compulsory study of Gothic novels in the primary classroom, nor that every NQT should deem those children who take little pleasure in half an hour in the book corner ‘intolerably stupid’, as Jane Austen’s Catherine might if she were to undertake a PGCE, I am wishing to highlight the fact that books can transport one to all sorts of exciting places. Places that we may never get to visit in person. Whilst we can do a Google search and within five seconds have a thousand pictures of the south of France, this would not compare in the slightest to the satisfaction of discovering such a place through our imagination as we turn the pages of a book. This is often done in the early hours of the morning when we know the sensible thing would be to put the light out and go to sleep, but one can’t, we just have to know what happens next. A book and a torch under the duvet when we know we should be asleep is one of the thrilling rites of passage for young readers. No film, computer game or modern technological advance in entertainment can replace the pleasure of turning the pages of a gripping novel, of not being able to lay it down until we are done with it, like Catherine in Northanger. I am no psychologist, but I am sure that the development of the mind and imagination, of the ability to focus for sustained periods on a text and loose oneself in another world (without, I might add, tweeting every five minutes to tell the world) can be replicated by no other medium.

In my professional practice it is this love for literature that I would wish to foster in the children I teach, that children might know that ‘I just can’t put it down!’ feeling that books of all sorts of genres can create.

In my experience in school, both on placement as a trainee teacher and before as a teaching assistant (TA) I have seen varying priorities give to reading out loud by the teacher. My experience comes from the KS2 setting. When I was a TA there was a half hour slot once a week for ‘story time’ where the teacher or I would read from a book, usually relating to the literacy topic. Whilst we were studying Roald Dahl we read The Witches to the children. It was a great opportunity to model expressive reading. ‘Story Time’ was a very positive experience for that class and one which they enjoyed. On my PP2 placement there was not any story time or reading aloud by the teacher outside of modelled work as part of the whole class teach at the beginning of literacy. I look forward to making reading to the class an integral and enjoyable aspect to my professional practice.

January 2012

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  • I also like to reminisce about my earlier reading years. Somethimes i feel like i have lost a lot of… by Oritseweyinmi Barber on this entry

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