If you have young children in your household you will probably be aware that Chris Evans aka Captain America recently read the Cbeebies Bedtime Story. For just over five minutes, silence descended on my family as my five year old daughter, fourteen year old son, husband and myself sat glued to the television - all might I add for very different reasons.
My daughter loved the story, ('Even Superheroes have Bad Days' by Shelly Becker) my son and husband were wondering when Iron Man and Thor were going to appear to save the day and I was simply interested in observing Mr Evans professional storytelling abilities..... which were rather good!
It got me thinking. No matter what age we are we all love listening to a good story, so why do we usually only read bedtime stories to children when they are very young? I read six or seven picture books to my son every night until he was about seven and he decided he was too old for stories, but was he? I really wish I had carried on for another few years.
Don't get me wrong, the combined powers of the Avengers and X-men could not persuade my six-foot son to allow me to read him a story now but there are lots of benefits of continuing to read aloud to children as they progress through primary/juniour school and are developing their own independent reading skills.
It provides an opportunity for children to enjoy stories and access vocabulary beyond their reading ability and will help prepare them for the next stage in their own reading journey.
When children see and hear important people in their lives reading they realise that it is something to aspire to which is valuable, worthwhile and important.
Sharing and reading books that a child has chosen is such a confidence boost to them. It lets them know that you are interested in their opinions, hobbies and ideas and that you want to find out more about them. It also provides an opportunity to share stories that you enjoyed as a child.
If your child is really enjoying a story that you are telling and likes the characters and plot, and they are comfortable sharing some of the reading, choose the best, most interesting and exciting lines and paragraphs for them to read. This will really help them experience how enjoyable reading can be.
It gives you and your child a chance to talk about the characters and plot and for you to explain any words or events that they don't understand. It's not so easy to do this if a child is independently reading a text you are unfamiliar with.
In our busy, technological lives, sharing stories is a great way to slow things down at the end of the day and leave children wondering what will happen to the wizard, dragon, troll or hero in the next chapter. This also enhances their own imagination and creative storytelling skills.
Sharing stories with children has also been proven to reduce stress levels for both child and reader. Quick! to the library.
I am about to start reading the Mrs Pepperpot stories by Alf Proysen (to my daughter, not my son!) and am looking forward to introducing her to some of the books I loved reading like Charlotte's Web, The Famous Five, Heidi, The Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Warhorse, Harry Potter and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory over the next few years.
I emphasise that I'll be 'introducing' her to them. Just because I love these books doesn't mean she will but I would like to use the stories and characters I know well, to help her (and me) find out what type of books appeal to her. I may just pick out a few passages to start with to give a flavour of the story and take it from there.
If, like me you are not sure exactly which stories are going to interest your children most and have the best chance of capturing their imagination, then dipping in to some of your own old favourites is a perfect starting point. I know that my daughter is fascinated about what life was like 'back in the olden days' when I was a girl and the things I liked to do, so she will want to know what was so special about the stories I loved.
The books that we really love as children stay with us all through our lives. I'm going to do my best to help my daughter get a taste of the wonder of Narnia, the adventures of The Famous Five and the magic of Hogwarts by reading them to her so that she can find her very own favourites.
Considering all the characters, excitement, adventure and magic that I will have to conjure up every night through my reading, I would probably benefit from some specialist storytelling tuition.
Does anyone have Captain America's number?