When you hear “Once upon a time,” you know you’re about to hear a magical fairytale. You learned that at as a little kid, probably before you could read stories yourself. Not only are stories about giants and princesses fun, but research proves that preschoolers who listen to stories have an easier time in school.
When your son or daughter snuggles up on your lap to listen to you read, he or she will begin associating letters with words and sounds and noticing the patterns in rhyming words. When kids hear stories, they’re also picking up new words they wouldn’t have heard from general conversation (when was the last time you used “foghorn“ or “pterodactyl” in a sentence?), because they can comprehend at a higher level than they can read. Being read to begins stimulating children’s brain cells, building their curiosity and memory.
Some experts suggest that kids should hear a thousand stories before they learn to read. That seems like a lot, but if you begin when your child is a newborn, you can easily meet that goal by reading about one book a day for three years. According to Betty Bardige  with the A.L. Mailman Family Foundation, “Reading aloud stimulates language development even before a child can talk.”
Get your kids to learn even more during read-alouds.
- Talk to them about the pictures or anything connected to the book. Share a personal story with them, or sing a song related to the book.
- Emphasize rhyme, rhythm and repetition in books for toddlers.
- Play games. Let kids finish rhymes in the story or help them pick out the first letter of their names in the book.
- Read your child’s favorite books and stories over and over again. Repetition helps learning.
Getting kids actively and physically engaged in a story boosts the learning factor even more. According to librarian and author Jennifer Bromann , “Interactivity can often make children’s early experience of books become more vivid, more dimensional and more stimulating.”
That’s what story times at the library do. Library staff turn listening into an activity by using puppets, games, movement, art and songs to help tell the story. Kids might be invited to act out part of the story or make sound effects. We have story times  at all three libraries, some during the day and some in the evenings.
How library story time benefits your kids. (Source: Jennifer Bromann)
- It improves listening skills.
- It increases a child’s vocabulary.
- It introduces kids to a large number of books.
- It teaches kids to act as part of a group.
- It shows that the library and school can be FUN!
- It instills a love of reading.
You can find interactive read-aloud resources online, too. At kids.dbrl.org , connect kids to Tumblebooks  or EZTales  for talking picture books, animated books, songs, games and more. For 4-year-olds living in the Columbia School District , parents can get a password for “iRead Columbia ,” an online early reading program that tracks a child’s progress, by requesting a login from your teacher or visiting the Columbia Public Library.
Also, after 25 years in service, our Dial-A-Story hotline, (573) 817-7177, is still a great way to hear a new story or fairytale each week.
This is the end of the article, but it can be a happy beginning for your child’s school success. And it’s so easy. Pick up a book and read aloud to your child today.