Story Telling


There is never not a good time to tell a story!

Story-telling engages children.  They get excited by fun things that ‘happen’ in the story, and excited by the anticipation of what might come next.  Children are easily engaged when they hear interesting or fun ideas.

Story-telling also creates a platform from which children look forward to getting into stories independently through reading.

Older children will ask questions and add their own contributions which creates opportunities to add to the story, and grow their understanding and vocabulary.  Creating and telling their own stories is the platform upon which they will later be able to write.



Most children start to learn to read abut the time they start school, but learning about reading begins much earlier.

Children learn from reading long before they learn to read. You can read to your child from the day they are born. The earlier that parents begin reading with their children and the more books they are exposed to, the better their outcomes are in reading and writing.

Reading with your child has many benefits.  Reading together:


  • is a pleasurable experience that gives children a positive view of books and is an opportunity to cement your relationship with your child.
  • helps children to understand that text holds meaningful ideas.
  • helps them learn new and unfamiliar words because the language, words and topics used in books are usually richer and more varied than in everyday conversation.
  • helps them learn that text is different from pictures.  They learn:
    • you turn a page from left to right;
    • you hold a book with pictures and text upright;
    • text flows from left to right;
    • alphabet knowledge, and letter sounds and rhyming;
    • words are groups of letters.


Picture books are useful, but books, illustrated or not, that have a story which engages the child’s interest and imagination helps.

Young children often enjoy and learn a lot from being ‘read to’ by older brothers or sisters, (or cousins, or friends) who sit with them and look at books and tell the story from the pictures.  Even if the older children are not themselves accomplished readers, their imaginative interpretations of the pictures and text can help to excite the younger ones about the content of books.

Reading together can help prepare children for a variety of different situations. Stories can give them a chance to hear and think about things that have happened or may happen to them.  Stories read or told by adults give children opportunities to hear and discuss new situations, ideas, vocabulary, and phrases before they come across them independently.  

After you have read, try and take time to listen to their questions and answer those questions to grow their understanding, or add new elements to the story.

If you are sharing a picture book with a child,

  • try making up a story to go with the picture
  • try talking about the feelings, facial expressions and behaviours of characters in the book.

If the book has text or, better, a story …

  • try pointing to the words in the title of the book and words in the pictures, like signs and speech-bubbles
  • try stopping and talking about a new or unfamiliar word that you come across while reading. Link it to an experience that your child has had to help them understand
  • try linking the story to your child’s own experiences and asking them questions about the story or pictures.

Some whānau enjoy snuggling together with the children and having a set daily time for reading, for example, just before bed.