Updated: Mar 11
World Book Day celebrated last week, is about a love of books and reading for pleasure. I was delighted that the Yoto Player was the official Audio partner for 2023 because language and literacy is so much more than just books and it's important all forms are celebrated and recognised as positive for children.
I once had a father in the shop who refused to buy his eldest daughter a Yoto Card she really wanted. "You can read books now, you don't need to listen to them anymore like your [younger] sister, they are for children who cannot read". I was so saddened, for both the child and father for this limiting belief and restricting access to literacy in this way.
Audiobooks for adults are having a soar in popularity and now audio devices like the Yoto Player are doing the same for children. It's a misperception that audio is competing with or replacing time spent with books and reading and are for very young children only. What audio stories are doing, is replacing screen-time and enabling stories to fit into the day in new ways: before school when getting ready, post-school instead of TV or tablet, in the car, waiting for appointments... developing language, vocabulary, concentration and imagination just like books do.
My own son's enthusiasm for the library has only grown since having the Yoto Player. We have discovered new authors and book collections he likes due to the Yoto, and his favourite cards, the Ladybird Audio Adventures, have enabled him to discover new subjects and enhanced his learning at school. Even his confidence in presentation skills have skyrocketed as he re-tells facts from those cards in class and at Beavers Club, and he delights in re-telling the jokes he has learnt from the Funny Stories cards to his friends and adults alike.
Far from limiting my son, now aged 7 and in Year 2 at school, the Yoto has been boundless in his development and enthusiasm for learning, with his reading and writing described as advanced by his teachers. Yet as a pre-schooler he had no interest in holding a pen or sitting still, could not write his name and did not know the alphabet. He just wanted to run and climb and jump and be on the move.
I often recommend in store a gift of a book with some of the Lanka Kade animals for young children, but story sacks should not just be limited to toddlers. Story sacks allow children to make sense of what is going on in the story. For older children they enable them to think about how the characters in the story feel, helping to develop their understanding of emotions and empathy as they play out the story. They provide an opportunity for children to consider the characters and locations of the story, expressing themselves as the character and developing their social, communication and language skills as a result.
Story sacks are a great way to be more hands on during story time and help bring stories to life, fueling imaginations and can be just as effective with non-fiction.
Story stones should equally not be overlooked for helping language development, writing skills, independent play and their small world play, confidence when telling stories and presenting and fueling their imaginations.
Do you have a child that loves to write, perform or just loves storytelling? Maybe they are not confident in these areas at all? Story stones contain characters, objects and locations and are great for bringing stories and games to life and suit those who love to write and perform as well as those who are reluctant and need more support.
They inspire my son's passion for writing by giving him a framework to build upon, but equally they can be used to inspire their small world play (especially good for when they announce they are 'bored' and don't know what to play), inspire a theatrical performance, create storytelling fun or can be used for treasure hunt games. In this way, it encourages all children through play, regardless of whether they love or hate literacy.
In this video my son has written a story using the stones and is now acting it out like a puppet show and is one of the ways he loves to use them.
This was the first year that World Book Day has included audio stories in it's celebrations. As Yoto Player explain, "It acknowledges the part aural storytelling and audiobooks specifically have to play in improving reading skills and building a love of reading in children. Audiobooks are proven to support children's emotional intelligence and mental wellbeing, improve comprehension and widen children's access to books".
Just from my experience with my own children, I can attest to that.
This year's theme was 'Making It Your World Book Day' promoting that there are many ways we can encourage and promote reading and books for pleasure with our children. This includes audio for all ages and using play, through story sacks and story stones to build their confidence.