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Family Literacy 2, Reading and Storytelling: Group Guide

Reading and Story Telling workshop discusses the importance of reading to children and touches upon the importance of using age-appropriate books and materials.

Before the session starts

Materials Required:

Workshop Content

Introduction of speakers and content

Good evening everyone. Tonight we are going to be talking about the importance of reading and story telling as well as discussing some strategies which can make reading and story telling part of your child’s life. My role tonight will be to facilitate the discussion, keep us on track, and record some of our thoughts. So let’s begin by introducing ourselves and explaining what brought us here tonight, and what we hope to get out of this workshop.


(Prep: two books, four envelopes)

Divide the group in half. Provide each group with a storybook either for toddlers or preschoolers. Ask for two volunteers from each group. Provide each volunteer with an envelope containing one of the following statements:

  1. Read this story with no enthusiasm, do not show the group the pictures, or answer any questions until the story is finished.
  2. Read this story with excitement, show the group the pictures, and interact with the group to keep them interested in the book. You can change your voice for different characters in the book.

NOTE: Always have volunteer with envelope #1 read their story first.
Once the group has completed the task, ask the groups’ opinions about which version of the story they enjoyed more and why.


  1. Importance of reading and story telling
  2. Age-appropriate books
  3. Tips for reading and story telling
  4. Oral story telling
  5. Setting the stage for reading and story telling
  6. Conclusion

View Slides 1-3

Large Group Discussion:

(Prep: flipchart paper and markers)

Do you get a chance to read to your child and how often? Why do you feel it is important to start reading and story telling to your children at a young age? (On flipchart paper list some ideas parents present, for example, reading promotes eye contact, introduces vocabulary etc.)

View Slides 4-6

Small Group Activity:

(Prep: Divide the group into 4, have books for 4 different age groups – birth to six months, 6 to 12 months, toddlers, and preschoolers)

Option One:
Give each group a different age category, have the group discuss why are the books provided appropriate for that particular age group?

Option Two:
Give each group a couple of books representing each age group, and have them discuss what books are appropriate for which age group and why?

Large Group Discussion:

Discuss findings found in smaller groups. Possible findings could include: texture of books, type of pictures, amount of text, colourfulness, grammar, and concepts.

View Slides 7-8

Large Group Discussion:

(Prep: flipchart and markers)

Discuss the well-known phrase that helps people remember that when reading with children it is important to “Say Less and Stress, Go Slow and Show”. Break up the phrase by highlighting the words on chart paper as demonstrated below. When describing each phrase ask the participants how they think it pertains to reading to children. Record participants’ answers. Give concrete examples for each part of the phrase by demonstrating with a well-known storybook. We have provided examples from Eric Carle “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”.

Say Less – depending on the age of your child, you don’t have to read a story exactly as written. Why? Shortening the story keeps the interest of your child.

  • For birth to 12 months – show each page and label one item on each page such as “caterpillar”, “apple”

Stress – animation is the key component. How your voice sounds, your facial expression and tone of voice helps bring a story alive, stress important words or phrases. Why? This helps bring a story to life.

  • For Toddlers – “he ate an apple”, “he was a BIG caterpillar”

Go Slow – children need time to process what they are receiving, through the pictures presented (for younger children) on the page or through the words at the bottom of the page (for older children). Why? Children need time to process what they are receiving.

  • For Toddlers – “cake” (pause), “ice cream” (pause), “pickle” etc.

Show – point to words and pictures to help your child identify the word with the picture. Why? This helps your child identify pictures and words.

  • For Preschoolers – read the entire story and point to the word that corresponds with the main picture on the page.

View Slides 9-10

Small Group Discussion:

(Prep: flipchart and markers)

In the same groups as before, have group members discuss a story that they remember from their childhood. Have one member of each group share their story with the larger group. Discuss “why do we remember oral stories?” (e.g., how the story was told, tone and expression, who told the story, etc.)

Note: When telling oral stories to children with special needs it might help to use lots of props, facial expressions, and voice animation to keep the children interested.

View Slides 11-13

Large Group Discussion:

(Prep: Start with a game of “I spy with my little eye something that is (colour)”, flipchart and markers)

Play the game “I Spy”, if you get a response from a participant continue on. If not, explain how the game is played (look around the room and label the object that fits the description. If the participant guesses correctly they now get a turn and begin with “I spy with my little eye something that is ____”)

“I Spy” is a great game to help teach your child concepts of colours, letters etc. When setting the stage for reading and story telling what are some activities your family does? (e.g., finding a cozy lap to snuggle on, just before bedtime). Write answers on flipchart.

Another great way to promote reading and story telling is to have your child help with the grocery list. The child can cut the pictures out of the flyer and later find the item in the store.

Your child can draw a picture and when telling you about it you can write corresponding words to go with the picture.

View Slides 14-15

Large Group Discussion:

(Prep: handout #1)

Review techniques of story telling from handout #1. Explain to parents the importance of having fun when reading with their children, and encouraging communication with their children. Also encourage children to explore their imagination by creating a picture from the words that they hear.


(Prep: handout #2)

This concludes our workshop on Reading and Story Telling. Are there any questions about the material presented or any other questions? I would like to thank you for coming to the workshop this evening. We have a few hand-outs for you regarding “Types of Books by Age”, and “List of Children’s Books”. Please take a moment to complete our workshop evaluation form. Have a good evening.

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