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World Book Day. The Importance of Story Sacks, Story Stones, Audio & Picture Stories for Children

Updated: Mar 6


World Book Day celebrated each year on March 7th, is about a love of books and reading for pleasure. I was delighted that the Yoto Player was the official Audio partner for 2023 and again for 2024, because language and reading is so much more than just books and it's important all forms that promote literacy and stories are celebrated and recognised as positive for children.


AUDIO BOOKS (YOTO PLAYER)

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 and replacing time spent with books and reading, and that audio content is 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 8 and in Year 3 at school, the Yoto has been boundless in his development and enthusiasm for learning, with his reading and writing described as 'the top end' 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.


STORY SACKS

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.


Guess the book? Young children enjoy acting out animal moves: stomp like an elephant, reach as high as a giraffe, hop like a frog, slide like a snake and roar like a lion.

These sets by Playpress are a great accompaniment as story sacks to the books for children aged 3+.

STORY STONES/DICE/TILES

Story stones, story dice and story tiles, 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.


SEEK & FIND BOOKS

Did you know that seek and find books, which often have a list of items and scenes within scenes to find, are great for literacy skills and vocabulary for all ages. These interactive books help children to solve problems, create their own stories, and it even boosts their memory skills, as children have to hold an image in their head whilst they search the main picture. Search and find books encourage communication as children describe what they see in the detailed illustrations, and they develop empathy skills by sharing what the characters are doing, experiencing and feeling.


Picture books are a massive hit in our house and the most reached for books. I love them, the kids love them.

A scene from the Brown Bear Wood Books by Magic Cat Publishing
A scene from the Brown Bear Wood Books by Magic Cat Publishing

2023 was the first year that World Book Day 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 is 'Read Your Way' celebrating that children are more likely to enjoy reading when their choices are championed and we make reading fun. Read Your Way calls on everyone to let go of pressure and expectations, giving children a choice – and a chance – to enjoy reading.


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 pictures to build their confidence.


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