To celebrate National Share-A-Story Month and the power of stories we have launched our campaign #ToddlerTales which focusses on the children who benefit from a Story Starters volunteer. #ToddlerTales lets children tell their stories through our Story Starter volunteers and we find out what the children enjoy most about the sessions.  
On a weekly basis, our Story Starters provide children in local early years settings (e.g. nurseries) one-to-one support and encouragement to help enhance and enrich a child’s language. This provides the children with a positive exposure to stories and books, and to help to ensure children are in a better place to learn to read when they reach primary school.

Find out more about Story Starters here

When our volunteers go into nursery for the first time, they are presented with a set of books to use with the children. These both challenge and engage the children and introduce them to the world of books and stories. The Story Starter books are provided by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and have been carefully selected by a panel, comprising of those with specialist early years experience and book knowledge. The panel balance the selection of books to include poetry and rhyme (Yo Ho Ho! A Pirating We will Go), traditional tales (The Three Billy Goats Gruff), modern stories (My Big Shouting Day), different characters (Pom Pom Gets the Grumps), and fact books (What Am I Truck? and My World, Your World).

For a Story Starter volunteer, sharing these lovely books with their Story Starters children is the most important part of the volunteering sessions. Sharing stories introduces children to new words, even though it’s just pointing to pictures in a story it enables children to learn names of object, animals and people, therefore, expanding their vocabulary (Source: Early Years Career).

Many of our volunteer’s say that the best bit about volunteering is to see and hear how much the children enjoy getting wrapped up in the stories they share together. Despite the children being at a young age, many of them already have favorite books that they like their volunteer to read and interact with. One of our Story Starter volunteer says that Peter Rabbit is one of their favorite books at the moment, together with Dear Zoo.

Our volunteer, Isobel, says: “I enjoy reading My Big Shouting Day by Rebecca Patterson, and the children seem to enjoy this story. Whether they identify with the character Bella, having an ‘off day’ I am unsure. The illustrations are bright, clear and detailed without being too involved. There is enough detail to discuss what is depicted on each page and the characters are people that children can easily identify with. The activities that Bella engages in are also relevant to the reader and listener.”

Furthermore, our volunteer Margaret adds: “I really like Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell. This book is simple and interactive. It gives the child, particularly in the early days when they may still be shy, great opportunities to join in. As well as lifting up the flaps, which all children love, it allows them opportunities to predict which animal is next and to remember why it is being sent back, as well as a chance to use actions to portray each animal.” As our Story Starter volunteers have experienced, sharing stories with nursery children can be an exciting and enjoyable moment for both the volunteers and the children. Not to forget, it’s also important to help them develop important language and communication skills that can be crucial for their further education.

Find out more about Story Starters here