“It’s story time!”

Recently our staff gathered together to celebrate the upcoming arrival of a little bundle of joy and the baby shower games really got our staff’s competitive juices flowing. It was fun to watch those who shouted out the answers to the names of the celebrity baby photos and equally as interesting to realize you are completely out of touch with the celebrity world. But when the next game announced was to recognize the story quote from children’s books, it was on like Donkey Kong. I had this.

It just doesn’t get any better than story time.

Story time in my classroom was the highlight of my day and my collection was deep and wide. My considerable personal collection contained the classics such as “Goodnight Moon” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and new additions such as “Llama Llama Red Pajama” and the “Fancy Nancy” collection. I took every opportunity to incorporate reading into many activities throughout the day and had a blast making it come to life for my preschoolers. Books on CD, character puppet making and theatrical performances were just some of the regular occurrences in our room.

Trips to the library were exciting escapades of what new books I would find and bring back for the week! The children knew every Monday meant new books to read and rushed to the carpet with anticipation. I was excited too! They were wide eyed during “Where the Wild Things Are,” and it was amazing to hear the way they said the words along with me during “Chicken Little” and “The Mitten.” We laughed heartily as we encouraged the very curious pigeon to NOT drive the bus or to share his beloved hotdog and bellowed “NO!!” as David chewed with his mouth open or ran to the bus in his underwear.

I used every opportunity to teach them new words and encouraged them to use the new words in sentences throughout the day. Their vocabulary exploded and I had a blast observing it. Hearing them use the word “fantastic” to describe their chicken nuggets and their friend’s artwork warmed my heart. It just doesn’t get any better than story time.

As I numbered my paper with great anticipation at the start of the game that day what didn’t occur to me was that I was surrounded by early childhood experts and we all were equally aware of the great importance of reading to young children. They too had many they knew and favored and had as vast wealth of children’s literature knowledge as I did. While I did fend well, proudly the only one who knew of the great “Skippyjon Jones,” I did not win the game. I did learn of several new books to add to my cherished collection and realized while we all know and value the importance of reading to young children, it also impacted us personally as well.

By the end of the shower we all were discussing our own personal favorites as children, as parents and as educators and I walked away with new titles to seek out and explore, even with my older children. Remember that developing the love of reading starts at a young age but can be continued throughout life as they grow and develop into elementary students, adolescents and adults.

What are some of your favorite stories to share with your children and students? What ones have you seen really impact them as well as challenge them to think and reflect? What ones really just made you all laugh, funny but all the while teaching them (and you!) to find humor and comedy in life and sometimes in yourselves?

Perhaps at your next staff meeting you could initiate a fun quiz for your staff about their story book knowledge. You may find out a lot more about children’s literature, your fellow coworkers and yourself. I mean, “Holy frijoles!” when it comes to reading, what have you got to lose?