Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Read Me a Story

One of my favorite classes in college involved learning how to read picture books out loud to children. Yes, and we did get credit for doing so. This class gave me real life skills. For true.

I learned there is a proper way to hold the book when facing the audience.

  • First of all, sitting down facing your audience, you hold the book’s bottom spine stretched out on your forearm.

*By the way if you are looking for a dazzling, scintillating meme-worthy Prezi, it ain’t happening*

  • You then read sidewise, yet facing your audience because eye contact is quite important. This is easier than it sounds because picture books usually have more illustration than words.
  • It is then important to properly turn the page. This is done by reaching over and across the top of the book, sliding the first two fingers done the present page and the next, and pulling the page over for the next spread. NOTE: though commonly practiced, it is not in the best interest in the book’s wear to turn from the middle bottom, especially towards the inside spine. Rippage and tearage can occur in doing so.
  • Proceed throughout the entire book in the proscribed method.
  • It is also important to use appropriate voices for characters, and it can be highly desirable to create separate voices for each given character. NOTE: characterization voices are best done by those who can do so without creating havoc among the audience. For example: if your Cockney mouse is such a smash hit your audience might laugh to the point of interfering with the story’s progress.
  • Body language is  also important. Leaning in to emphasize special junctures, or pausing for same can add a delightful amount of drama and dimension to the story.

I believe the course to be quite edifying and suggest signing up should the adult education flyer come through the mail. Today I utilize those skills reading to the grandkiddo, although I use my snuggle reading skills instead. I have read stories to my high school students. Yes, that is one reason I am known as the weird English teacher.

Then again, there are those who possess natural skill at reading and technique does not actually matter. Case in point is our boy Sherlock.

Have you a favorite technique for reading stories?  Or better yet–any famous readers you’ve come across? One of my most favorites is Meryl Streep’s audio book reading of Jeremy Fisher by Beatrix Potter.



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19 thoughts on “Read Me a Story

  1. I didn’t know of Meryl Streep’s narration–she has a great storytelling voice! You mentioned some great points when reading to an audience in general, not just picture books for children.

    And, no, you are definitely not weird for reading to your high school students. When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher had read to us from Hamlet (but then again, she’s British, and everything sounded better when she read it).

    Two narrations that I enjoy most: Kate Burton’s rendition of “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Caroll and Seamus Heaney’s recitation of his translation of “Beowulf.”

  2. Every year I read an excerpt from Moby Dick in my loud Capt Ahab voice. I lose my voice by the end of the day but every year the kids say it is one of their favorite memories of the class. I’m going to buy a pirate hat for it this year.

  3. I love that you posted this, in case I ever have to read to a group, as far as how to hold it 🙂 My d-i-law is a teacher. Wonder if she had the same class!

  4. My son has a huge man-crush on Benedict 🙂 He is pretty cute.

  5. I’m just a sucker for stories read to me but I am a little hazy on the character voices bit and only a vlog of you demonstrating will suffice, please thank you!

  6. Sounds like a fun class 🙂 And I love the sass Benedict brings to Little Red Hen and Meryl’s great frog voice

  7. What a very cool post.

  8. Those are some great videos! I get read to a lot. By a lot of different voices. Some readers are really good with the emotion. Some stumble a bit. Some read toooooo fast! But they all are very nice about showing me the pictures! Reading aloud is such good practice for anyone!

  9. I wish I had taken at least one kiddie lit course in librarian school! Who would have believed that this adult services librarian wanna-be would, after several years of working and extended time off to raise our kids, find herself filling the role of elementary-to-high school librarian? Talk about learning on the job…Thanks so much for liking my post.

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