How to tell stories... when you have no time for stories

Published on: 05 April 2018 Author: Hayley Scott

Teacup House: Meet the Twitches author Hayley Scott knows it's not always easy to find time for stories, so she shares her thoughts on how busy parents can fit it in to their day...

Hayley Scott; Teacup House: Meet The Twitches

There's something about storytime.

Something about the voices, hearing the words in real time, the comfort of someone taking time out for you. When I was a teacher, there was never a child of any age who'd say no to being read a story. There's something in it. A pact. A promise. A moment of shared humanity.

I read to my daughter every day, and it matters to me that we do it. There are other things I don't do, in order to be able to do it. But that is me and my choice. It's not right for everybody. I'm not here to be smug about it, or say, 'THIS IS WHAT YOU MUST DO.'

Teacup House: Meet the Twitches

One of Pippa Curnick's illustrations from Teacup House: Meet the Twitches

I'm always cautious when people say reading with your child is something everyone has to do. Sometimes there isn't time to read - everybody's life is different (and lots of children don't have access to books and it's not the parents' fault; we should be supporting those children and parents). But there is always time for stories.

How to fit them in, if life is busy? If there just isn't time?

I'm a big fan of storytelling in public places. My daughter and I often pick someone (subtly and quietly and never mean-spirited) in the supermarket and invent a whole world for them - where they live, what they do, what secrets they're hiding in their handbag. It's fun. It's not prescriptive. And it's still storytelling.

Teacup House: Meet the Twitches

One of Pippa Curnick's illustrations from Teacup House: Meet the Twitches

Reading a longer book in little bits over time has always been something I love, too. We did this with Charlotte's Web and Frost Hollow Hall. Just having it there, sitting on the bedside table, is a promise to ourselves that we're going to get to the end of it.

In an ideal world every child would be tucked up into bed and read to. It is one of life's great joys. But it's not the only way. And maybe this idea of books at bedtime doesn't always help. We can tell stories and read books at other times, too! We can add them to the day - tell them while we're washing up, cooking, going about the daily business of family life.

I would never dream of giving anyone any advice – every child and every family is different. I am cautious about spying on other people's reading habits. One thing I would say is never get competitive about reading. Never see it as something your child needs to be good at, to be better at, to achieve. Once we start looking at stories that way, once we start feeling guilty or judging people about how many books or how much they read, we're losing the beauty of what stories can really do.

My best advice is: ask your children. Ask what they like.

Take them to a bookshop or a library and let them discover what there is. Let them choose and don't prescribe. If they're happy with the books they have, you can really build your family reading habits from there.

Hayley Scott's chapter book for 5-8s, Teacup House: Meet the Twitches, illustrated by Pippa Curnick, is out now from Usborne.

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More about Hayley's book

Teacup House: Meet the Twitches

Author: Hayley Scott Illustrator: Pippa Curnick

Delightful illustrations, bursting with colour, bring this gentle adventure to life. This is the first title in what promises to be an enchanting series of chapter books for newly confident readers.

Read more about Teacup House: Meet the Twitches

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