The Power of Story Reading in Early Grades

(Mehr Parwar, Rawalpindi)

When I was very young my grand- father used to tell me stories daily at night. I loved the stories very much and insisted my grandfather to re-tell the stories; mostly which were about fairies, animals, emperors and the people from different planets. I still remember some of them. While listening the stories from my grandfather I had great curiosity and fun watching expressions and emotions as he elaborated. This practice showed me an entirely imaginative world where I could see big forests, colorful skies, beautiful fairies with long brown hair, men with unusual heights, huge flying saucers and so on. Gradually this story listening embarked my curiosity and interest towards reading. But I could only had my text books and my siblings’ ones that I used to read many times for my pleasure. This reading taste later embed in my personality where I could attract towards reading books, novels and newspaper though I couldn’t as we had no such reading material at my home or at school. However, I was fortunate enough to had some old newspapers that my father used to bring sometimes. I read those newspaper with great pleasure and interest sometimes I tried to translate it to my grand-father also. Later on that little reading practice provided an immense support and motivation towards reading in my schooling hence developed my inner skills and explored a learning world for me.

Reflecting back on my past experiences and learning it becomes very clear that reading is a fundamental core skill to prepare one for education journey. Through reading one can learn speaking, writing, vocabulary, spelling and content. Sound reading skills benefit children to comprehend their subjects and concepts easily. Unfortunately in countries like Pakistan most of the children are far behind in reading which significantly results in low academic progress and lack of motivation towards learning. Teachers and parents use various approaches to improve reading of young children such as; text book dictation, vocabulary practice, spelling bees etc. But the best approach is Story Reading through which a teacher can bring long-lasting outcomes in children’s life.

The basic goals of education is to enable students to gain an understanding of the world and themselves, to develop appreciation and interests, and to find solutions to their problems and all it can be possible through reading.

Modern research significantly put emphasis on to improve reading through telling stories in classroom teaching. “Because of the interrelated nature of the processes involved in reading and writing, storytelling is an effective pedagogical strategy that can be woven into instruction to increase students’ competencies in all areas”, (Miller,S& Pennycuff, 2008).It is because story reading provides opportunity to teachers and students to involve themselves in different situations and enjoy while reading. It helps develop positive attitudes towards learning by developing a sense of joy in language that they often miss in usual classroom. Research shows that even students with low motivation and with weak academic skills likely to read, write, speak and participate in the context of story reading class.

Many teachers think that story reading is wastage of time but it does not at all. Story telling is part of lesson that makes learning more relevant and contextual. It makes the lesson more powerful and effective through embarking children motivation towards learning. While reading various events and characters, the Story capture students’ attention and concentration and creates fantasy and interest. Young children capture new ideas and concepts more easily through stories, Hamilton M & Weiss M, 2005. Teacher’s strong engagement in reading a story book capture children attention and interest and develops the power of strong imagination for learning. Different words and colored pictures help young minds to comprehend story easily. Reading a story through expressions and body language develops strong interaction and connection among the teacher and the students that develops communication skills. Providing a story book in children’s hand brings pleasure for reading which eventually promotes an enabling learning environment in the classroom. If students are encouraged to read a story and then make it as their own by retelling the story, this make children creative and problem solvers.

Story reading stimulates imagination. The famous scientist Albert Einstein says that imagination is more important than knowledge. But unfortunately this part of learning is ignored in classroom and at home. An expressive told story captures attention of listeners and brings vivid images in children’s minds. While reading with complete concentration these images become part of comprehension.

Thus to produce lifelong learners the parents must develop reading culture at home and schools. It is essential to choose and provide nice story books to their children. The story books should be contained on cultural and contextual having easy language, attractive pictures and must be included with messages of values and respect for the humanity and the world. While reading and telling the stories the teachers should involve and engage the students by using methods such as; individual reading, group reading, discussing and expressing characters and events to develop curiosity and make the story meaningful and live for students.

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