I’m very excited to be participating in Day 5 of Share a Story – Shape a Future. Today’s theme is Reading for the Next Generation, and the wonderful Jen Robinson is the host for today so hop on over to her blog for more information.
Babies and young children love being silly, and they love watching adults act silly. If you take your child to storytime at the library or if they go to a preschool or child care center, chances are the librarian or teacher acts quite a bit silly when she or he reads. She or he might make noises, use funny voices, act out what is happening in exaggerated motions. The children love it, because the stories come alive to them when sound effects and gestures are added in.
But when it comes time to read to your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, or young friend, most adults feel ridiculous roaring like a giant or mooing like a cow. How do we get over our embarrassment at making barnyard noises or pantomiming an elephant sneezing?
I have some suggestions that may help you make small changes in how you read and lead you to eventually roar and yelp and baa and crawl around like the silliest of adults. Several of them encourage you to get your child involved in the silliness. It’s always easier to let the sillies out when you do it together. I also have a list of some books that cry out to be read by your silliest self.
1) Pause as you’re reading and have your child make silly noises. This way, you make room for silliness while working up to honking, trumpeting, and baaing yourself. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell is a great title for this. Pause as your child looks at each animal and ask them to make it’s sound. You could ask them to move around like the animal too. Their silliness just might be infectious. Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton is another title you can have fun with. Instead of simply saying “moo” or “baa”, have your child make their most cow-like moo, and then join them. You’ll feel less silly together.
2) Choose one sound effect to ham it up on in a book. You might read a book about a train and really let go on the whistle (Freight Train by Donald Crews or Choo Choo by Virginia Lee Burton are good choices). Or read The Three Little Pigs and blow like crazy when the wolf tries to blow down the houses.
3) Pick one character in a story and give them a funny voice. In Ollie by Olivier Dunrea, Ollie the gosling doesn’t want to come out of his egg. He says “I won’t come out!” over and over. Say it in your best pouting toddler voice. Or read Sandra Boynton’s The Belly Button Book and use your smallest, squeakiest voice to say “be bo”, the baby hippo word for belly button.
4) When you come to words that describe or suggest a sound (onomatopoeia), don’t just read them, make the sound. If a train “puffs” down the train, then puff as you read it. If a bubble goes “pop” them make the sound instead of reading the word.
5) Ask your child to act out the story as you read. Or pick a part to act out and let your child be another character. Read Three Billy Goats Gruff and let your child tramp tramp over the bridge while you reach out to get them like the troll. Or read Blueberries for Sal by Robert McClosky and encourage your child to imitate Little Sal, kuplink, kuplank, kuplunking blueberries in a pail. Pretend to be a shocked mama bear, finding her baby missing and a child following her instead.
6) With babies, read simple word and picture books or alphabet books, point to an object and make the sound or a gesture to go with it. Mime eating a banana, make a noise like a tractor, pretend to lick an ice cream cone.
How every you let your sillies out, know that your child will love it, and you will be giving them the gift exciting, engaging stories that will follow them far into the future.
More books for silly reading:
The Three Bears (you can hardly resist making a deep voice for Papa Bear and squeaky voice for Baby Bear)
The Pigeon Finds A Hotdog by Mo Willems (the pigeon is too loud and brash and silly to allow you to read his words calmly)
Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems (filled with chances to shout, jump, and make funny faces as you act out the feelings of these two friends)
Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? by Dr. Seuss (the whole book invites you to make funny sounds)
Helen Oxenbury’s baby books (Tickle, Tickle, All Fall Down, Clap Hands, and Say Goodnight) – these are perfect for acting out (my 2.5yo first clapped and waved while listening to these stories)
Gossie and Gertie by Olivier Dunrea – a great opportunity for using your best exasperated voice
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton – written like a song, calls out for clapping and stomping
Giddy Up! Let’s Ride! by Flora McDonell – great for reading with a child on your lap while you “giddy up” like the horses and other animals in the book