At some point in our childhood, we will all read or listen to a story. Each story is different and shares a diverse range of emotions that children can begin to understand and express, whilst letting our imaginations run wild. Here's my pick of five of the best, in honour of National Storytelling Week.
This is an exciting time of the year for young children, as for many of them this is the start of their communication journey.
While working in early years I experienced a variety of books, read to children to help them understand different life experiences. Each book will have different characters and different endings, and young children love books with lots of colours and pictures rather than lots of words on a page.
Out of all the books that are available to them at nursery, children tend to have around five favourite books that they will want to keep on reading over and over again. Before you know it, you know all the stories by heart. Those are some of my favourites.
A classic favourite, all children are intrigued by it. The book is small and simple but allows children to use their fine motor skills by lifting the flaps on each page to find the perfect pet. Whilst reading through the story children come across a variety of animals that are found in a zoo and the noises they make. This allows children to identify and recognise these animals and encourages them to understand that they are wild animals. If children have visited a zoo they may be familiar with the animals they see and what noise they make but if not, with constant re-reading, children will be able to spot the animal in the book and know the noise it makes.
There's no such thing as 'scary monster' and The Gruffalo is children's most loved monster. This book is very modern and includes a range of animals that can be found in the wood. Children develop a great sense of what a Gruffalo looks like and his features. Throughout the story the Gruffalo comes across different animals and colours, so children are progressing with their cognitive development whilst thinking about the colours and using their language skills to express their voices on what animal they see. Due to the book being repetitive, children are able to understand the story and realise that the Gruffalo is not scary, he's very friendly, this encourages children to build friendships with others around them.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
This book is very interactive and really grabs children's attention and gets them involved in reading the book. The very hungry caterpillar has cut out details of food that the caterpillar eats over the course of a week. Children learn their numbers whilst reading the book because as each day goes by, the amount of food for the caterpillar increases. Children are also learning their days of the week and the time as well as understanding the different foods available and that some are healthy and unhealthy. This story also has an activity that can be carried out: by cutting out the food, the caterpillar and the days of the week and times, children can begin to grasp the concept of when they eat their food. It is great for a memory game too.
We're Going on a Bear Hunt
This book has been about for years and I think every child who comes across this book loves it. The story helps children's development in many ways without them realising. Children will remember it because the story has a musical charm, they can imitate the rhythm and will begin to read it out with you thanks to the repetitiveness of it. While reading through the story, children begin to recognise various habitats and weathers seen on the bear hunt. They develop their communication and language skills by pointing out the different pictures and identifying what they are or what we do if they were to come across the bear. This also supports their physical development as they will use their body gestures for each part for example with "splash through the river" they can identify the river, that the colour is blue, and they use their jumping skills to splash.
Alan's Big, Scary Teeth
This book is great for young children because it encourages self-discovery in a funny way. Alan is an alligator who goes into the jungle to try and scare the fellow animals, Alan only knows how to be scary but one day when he loses his teeth he must learn how to behave differently and be his true self. This book encourages children to be themselves when trying to make friends and not be something they are not, because if you are kind and true to yourself people are going to like you more. Children are also being made aware of self-hygiene by ensuring they brush their teeth, otherwise they are going to fall out like Alan’s. By supporting self-discovery the story gives children confidence to be who they are and to choose friends they have things in common with.