Let’s read together: three steps for a super special storytime

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By Lorraine Akemann, marketing and outreach, Khan Academy Kids

Reading a book together

One of my favorite parts of early parenting was storytime at the local library. As a mother of two—now teenage—daughters, some of my fondest memories involve spending time reading to them from the library’s bountiful selection of children’s books. I’m happy to report that although my kids are now grown, I have not given up my library time. As part of the team at Khan Academy Kids, I can enjoy the most splendid children’s library around!

In one download, dozens of colorful and joyful children’s books are accessible through our free educational app, Khan Academy Kids. Ready to make lasting memories with budding little readers? Pick a book from your shelf or from your device, and keep reading for tips on creating a super special storytime.

Step #1: Pick the book together.
Choosing a book opens opportunities to seek, talk, and explore. “Which book should we read first?” “Oh, I like that one!” “Have you read this book before?” “What do you think it’s about?” Being engaged and eager to read while choosing books together can help start storytime strong. Put a few books by your side so you’re prepared to keep reading because once kids cuddle in, the request for “just one more book” is right around the corner.

Reading a book together

Step #2: Read happily out loud.
Good stories are special. They pass on knowledge and create lasting memories across generations through their telling and retelling. It’s no surprise that parents who love storytime can recite children’s book verses by heart. This happened in our office recently when our team started making book recommendations for a coworker’s baby shower. To plan the list of gift books, we kept hollering over our computers recounting Go Dog Go and Hand Hand Fingers Thumb from memory. Good times!

The point is, parents can have a lot of fun and fulfillment while reading out loud with their kids. Special stories engage us. When we recite favorite pages by heart, we know we’ve caught the reading bug. Don’t hesitate to connect with the characters, make exclamations, gasp, whisper, laugh, and shout. When you’re having fun, chances are, your kids are having fun too. You’ll know it’s working when you stop to comment about something in the story only to immediately be interrupted by those three magic words: “just keep reading”. Yep, you’ve got ‘em hooked.

Step #3: Enjoy storytime every day.
Reading together can be a daily family ritual. Whether it starts the day, calms kids down, or settles them in for bedtime, there is always a place for storytime. It’s portable, peaceful, enriching, and a cornerstone for developing language and literacy.

I found that the most effective way to weave storytime into our family’s culture was to increase our access to books. Before the rise of eReaders, my father-in-law started the book train by finding boxes of discounted children’s books on eBay and sending them to our home. He found collections of Berenstain Bears, Mercer Meyers, Nancy Drew, and more. The kids would open a box and dive into the entire series. These books were arranged on our shelves and grabbed in bulk during emergency storytimes. There was nearly no problem that couldn’t be solved with a stack of Berenstain Bears.

I’m grateful that in addition to physical books, there are now more options for access to children’s literature. What I appreciate most about Khan Academy Kids are the many books in our library that are freely accessible to anyone with a mobile device. The library has come to you, and those “stacks of books” will continue to grow. Scroll through the Khan Academy Kids Library to select from a combination of original fiction stories written by children’s book authors plus colorful non-fiction books about animals, nature, and more.

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