DIY Interactive Stories

I LOVE reading. At an early age, I fell in love with books and haven't stopped since I first learned how to read. I love learning and escaping into fantasy worlds through books. As a mom, I wanted to share my passion for reading with Merle, so I've been reading books to her since she was in my womb. She's the only toddler I know who will sit for an hour straight to read books. Fortunately she enjoys it too. As she gets older, we have started reading longer, more complex stories (complex in the two year old sense). She will gladly sit for an hour or more listening to us reading aloud. The key is making the stories interactive. Interactive stories engage little readers by connecting the world constructed in the book with the real world and encouraging readers to actively participate in the story. In turn, this helps young readers develop a deeper understanding, and memory, of the material.

Interactive stories generally fall into two categories. There are books that encourage verbal participation and those that encourage physical participation. The verbal ones typically feature repeated words or sounds. A short round up of some of the best interactive books is available on Pre-K Pages. The truth is, just about any book can be made interactive, but finding or creating physical objects based on the story.You can create a few of the main characters with which little ones can act out scenes or even create dioramas based on scenes in the books. We do a bit of both with Merle.

Pre-made stories in a box are readily available. My personal favorite are those by Steve Light like Little One Inch. The cheapest way to do it is DIY style. It doesn't have to be a complicated affair. Bust out a few basic craft supplies like paper, colored pencils, scissors, and glue and the story in a box is nearly complete. For Christmas this year I made two stories in a box to go along with the anthology of Brothers Grimm tales Santa brought. I did one for The Bremen Town Musicians and one for The Three Feathers. Also as a gift for X and Merle to share, I got a few Star Wars stuffed toys (Vader, R2D2, or as Merle calls him R2 Dooty, and Leia) to go along with a series of Jeffrey Brown comics in Vader's Little Princess. Merle gets such a kick out of acting out scenes with her characters that she is constantly asking to read and has several lines memorized. Needless to say, I'm a believer in the power of interactive stories!

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