A recent article by Ryan Rahardjo, Public Policy and Government Relations Senior Analyst for Google Indonesia illustrated the value of reading to children using different voices for different characters. As an example, Rahardjo presented Siti Arofa, who teaches first grade in Gresik, East Java. Many of her students start the school year without basic reading skills or even an awareness of how fun books can be. She noticed that whenever she read out loud using different expressions and voices, the kids would sit up and their faces would light up with excitement. Developing this love for books and storytelling has helped Arofa’s students improve their reading and speaking skills as they mimic her style of reading.

How does this information impact your story time as a parent or teacher? Make story time more interesting in a variety of ways:

  1. Try the different voices recommended by Siti Arofa. A large bear might have a deep voice while a bird might use a squeaky voice. This also helps children to identify the speaker even if dialogue tags like “she said” are not used in the text.
  2. Use facial expressions. Read with a frown while describing a sad or worried character, or a smile while reading about a happy character.
  3. Add gestures. If a character flies over the rooftops, zoom with your hand over the child’s head. Or stomp your feet when the character walks into the room. Don’t be surprised if your child follows your lead with a giggle.
  4. Consider adding props. If you are reading What’s the Matter?, the EnteleTrons® story about Ice who doesn’t want to change into water, place an ice cube in a saucer to observe the change of state while you read.
  5. Ask children to add their own sound effects. For example, in Where’s Green?, another EnteleTrons® story, there are raindrops that refract the sunlight into rainbows. Whenever you see raindrops on the page, coach your child to say, “Drip, drip, drip.”

A monotone voice has a monotonous effect on children. They lose interest, fail to learn from the story, and are easily distracted. Stop reading like a robot and start reading like an spellbinding storyteller and your children will definitely have more interest in their books – now and for a lifetime. ~Renee Heiss, children’s author~

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