Neil Griffiths is known around the world for his exceptional storytelling skills. A former headteacher and the founder of Storysacks, he is in constant demand as a presenter. Here, he shares some of the ways in which he turns children into happy, hungry-for-more readers. We hope his tips inspire you to pick up your child, race to the nearest bookshelf, choose a book, find a quiet corner, and sit down to read together.

Your single best tip for getting children to love stories is:

Read aloud to them stories they love again and again!

What do you do when children become ‘wiggly’ and stop paying attention to the story?

Sing a rhyme or well-known song or stop if I know they have had enough!

What are your tips for doing storytime with children when there are a variety of age ranges of children? How do you keep them all interested?

I recommend that Mums and Dads read stories to siblings individually, but if it is a school or library storytime I read stories that appeal to all ages and ensure there is a lot of opportunity for role play within the story I choose.

At what age do you think children are old enough to start listening to stories?

In the womb!

Should parents let their children stay up past their bedtime to read?

Yes, but monitor it to ensure it is not having an impact on sleep time!

Why is it important for parents and caregivers to read to children?

I could go on for hours here but in short and in no particular order:

  • It exposes children to wonderful language
  • Transports them into known and unknown worlds
  • Stimulates and feeds imagination
  • Exposes them to emotions and relationships
  • Helps them understand the structure of and sheer joy of stories
  • Helps them to concentrate and listen well
  • Encourages response, reaction and role play
  • Helps them understand character
  • Exposes them to humour
  • It’s fun!

What’s your favourite memory of being read to as a child?

My dad, who was a single parent, reading The Water Babies as if he was under water!

The Barefoot story you most enjoy sharing with children is? The Animal Boogie!

Do children ever become too old for storytime? Never!

Most unique place you’ve ever read a story to a child is:

I did a whole week of storytelling called ‘Any Time Any Place Anyone’ and told stories on a boat, train, up a tree, hanging by ropes from a cliff, in a cafe, in a tunnel, from a statue and in a sewer!

Why do you love sharing stories with children so much, don’t you grow tired of reading to them all the time?

How could you ever tire of being involved in the greatest gift you could ever give a child – a love of reading?

Most important thing you’ve learned from a story is:

The ability to dream.

 

Thanks for sharing, Neil! What are your storytelling habits? Do you like to treat storytime like a show or is it more low-key with your family?

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