Did you heighten your voice for a tiny mouse, roar out the words for a lion, soften your sounds for a timid toddler or pound them out whenever the hero spoke? How did you know what kind of voice to make?
Well, you probably called upon memories of past friends or relatives you've met, individuals you've heard, movies you've seen or tapes you previously listened to. Sometimes the illustrations of a character will remind you of your sweet grandmother or your silly uncle. Maybe even a college roommate will pop into your memory in the role of the fairy tale king or the court jester. In short, you mingled memories and imagination together to cook up the voice of each character, thus heightening your child's interest in each story.
So what about encouraging your child to do the same? Once in a while encourage your child to "act" out the story by giving a character or two their own special voice. Why? Because by doing so you are helping that child to more fully understand the story and recognize the importance and role of each character while making an important literary deposit in their memory banks.
Here's how to start:
- You read the story to your child first using just your regular reading voice.
- Have your child take a closer look at all of the illustrations and have them "shop" for any particular character that they may especially like of who reminds them of someone else.
- Ask them what they think this character might sound like and why?
- Have them practice the voice, just once or twice.
- Share read the story with your child. That is – they read part of the story using the character's voice when applicable and you read the other story parts.
- Finally, talk about the story. Did your child like the voice they chose? What did it say about the character? Would they use that voice again? Is there another character in this story that they want to speak for? Why?
Such a simple, silly way to build memories, encourage imagination and develop a greater understanding of a special story. And although my youngest son is now 24, we both can still remember his joyful declaration of Rumpelstilskins's , "The devil made me do it!" He loved this story and the opportunity to take on the role of Rumpelstilskin. Can't wait until the day when he can share those words with his own kids!