Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Capturing Children’s Voices at Story Time!

Kathleen Tuite


Wednesday 22 January 2020

Reading and storytelling with children promotes brain development and imagination, teaches children about language and emotions, and strengthens relationships. Dr Mary Roche in her blog 'Books and stories are important in the early years', also wrote about the importance of storytelling and its effect on children’s development.

In this blog we want to highlight the importance of hearing the child’s voice during/after storytelling, as storytelling provides a wonderful opportunity to hear the child’s voice. The child’s voice is a phrase used to describe the real involvement of children. It acknowledges children’s questions, queries and wonder. Taking time to listen and hear what they have to say and show through their body language. This could be described as ‘engaging with children’s voices’, which lies at the heart of consulting with children.

Seeking children’s expression of their meaning, through talk, bodily gestures and actions at story telling time is one way to give voice to children. We know there are many others; ‘The Hundred Languages of Children’ by Loris Malaguzzi for example.

However, in a busy setting with young children seeking their expression of their meaning is not always an easy process.  But it is a process and one that does not end when the story ends! Talk or action by children about the story that was just read that day can seep into several other areas of the day or week, through children’s play. In Anne Comerford’s blog 'I say OOH, and you say AAH', long after the story had been read, Anne noticed that if anyone says OOH in the middle of any task, music, dance or play, the children will automatically respond AAH with gusto.

When seeking children’s meaning, care must be taken to capture children’s authentic views, write down what children say verbatim (word for word) as far as possible, in large print exactly as they say it, to ensure we don’t put our adult spin on their words. The challenge here in recording what children say is trying not to be intrusive and trying to keep up with what children say without breaking the flow of children’s ideas. Practice makes perfect and reading with small groups is best! Often children will notice your efforts to capture what they are saying and like real experts they will slow down and give you time to take notes!!

By using a variety of strategies to remain true to the integrity of children’s words, and helping children to express themselves, we can use further questioning (not interrogation), paraphrasing what children might have meant, and checking our own interpretations with children throughout the process; "Am I right in saying you floated above the clouds Bailey?" Clarification with children and breaking down questions for ease of understanding, using language that invites genuine input; "Tell me, what do you think about..., how do you feel about..., what do you like about..., what makes you think that..., what makes you feel that way?, why did that make you laugh so much? what do you think will happen next?" all contribute to attempts to maintain children’s voices without placing our own interpretations on what was heard or observed! Balance listening with questioning, we want to hear what children have to say, that’s the fun bit!!

The use of reflective language in conversations with children can be very effective too – for example, "I heard you say Harry that you have lots of story books at home, is that because you like books so much?" Consider the messages that children convey – not just what they say but how they say it. Attend to their tone, facial expressions, gestures and gaze. Write these down and talk to the children about what you had captured during story time. It is wonderful material to reflect with the children and to share with parents!

However, what is key to successful engagement with children’s voices and your success at storytelling and documentation is being familiar with the story book to begin with – preparation, you don’t have to be an expert in storytelling to get children interested in books, but you do need to know the story line. Books can be chosen by children (preferences) and they can also be chosen by adults and used as provocations to engage children and give them voice! Giving children a voice promotes self-esteem and self-worth, feeling valued plays a large role in how a child learns. As does re-reading favourite books again and again, as long as children are interested.  Their understanding changes with their lived experiences, which adds a new dimension to their enjoyment of the book or story.

Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia philosophy, wrote a poem called ‘The hundred languages of Children’. In the first part of the poem, he celebrates the many different ways children express themselves; and in the second part, laments schools taking most of these languages away from children.  

Early Childhood Ireland would like to hear from you how you capture children’s voices! Contact or,

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Youtube Series(1) ECIAwards20(1) Upcycling(1) Shapes(2) parents(7) Games(2) Performance Management(1) documentation(4) National Early Childhood Research Conference(2) Supernanny(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Small World Play(1) babies(7) mental health problems(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Change(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Department of Education and Skills(1) curriculum(7) PIP(1) outdoor space(3) ECCE(7) Leaders in Practice(1) built environments(1) Map(1) risky play(2) ELC(1) learning hub(2) Quality(4) Health(2) SAC(1) Mental Health(4) NAEYC(1) educating(1) Malaguzzi(1) National Holiday(1) childcare services(1) Craft(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Reggio Emilia(2) Plants(1) peer group(1) Leadership(1) role playing(1) Our Little Seed(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Exploring(1) Nonverbal(1) ICBN(1) Little Buddies(1) early childhood ireland research(1) budget(1) Halloween(2) early years learning(1) staying connected(1) apps for children(1) National Awards 2018(2) Appreciation(1) educarer(1) dining experiences(1) emotional well-being(1) Participation(2) emotional environment(2) Engineers Week(2) School Age Childcare(2) pablo(1) Fantasy play(1) UN(1) Magic(1) Irish guidelines(1) First 5(1) Syria(1) upskilling(1) child safeguarding(1) Awards 2018(3) Thinking(1) Mount Everest(1) Leprechauns(1) ERASMUS+(3) Early Years(1) ECEC Setting(2) Names(1) democracy(1) maternity health(1) friendships(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Eritrea(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Funding(1) books(5) learners(1) EECERA(1) Policy(2) relationships(18) Visual Impairment(1) art of the relationship(1) animals(2) STEAM(1) Kindness Challenge(1) Recycle(1) Educators(2) SPICE Framework(1) Budget 2020(1) Environment(2) Line-ups(1) Thanks(1) Employee(1) Budget 2019(2) Snacks(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) Xbox(1) play pods(2) Opportunities(1) Interests(1) inspiring interactions(1) Irish(1) Seanchaí(1) Kerry(1) UD(1) Family wall(1) social science(1) conversations(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) Vietnam(1) Fee Play(1) preschool(4) Social Skills(1) child-centred approach(1) life long learning(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) show and tell(1) Traffic Lights(1) Spiders(1) Cognitive development(1) Mud kitchens(1) Women(1) Primary School(3) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Self-regulation(1) june29(1) Professionalisation(5) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) stories(3) Degree(1) TOY Programme(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) National Childcare Scheme(1) Trick or treat(1) Queues(1) Traditions(2) Meet the Members(1) Imagination(3) Valerie Gaynor(1) Interactions(3) preschool settings(1) Engineering(3) Flowers(1) Sustainability(3) conference(1) Gratitude(1) Socioemotional development(1) Building Resilience(1) Early Years Education(1) Sport(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) UK Government(1) child led(1) European Project(1) reopening(1) First 5 strategy(1) routine(2) Motor neuron disease(1) National Annual Awards 2020(1) learning(19) Document Learning(1) responsive relationships(1) Feeding(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Buddies(1) Online Research Symposium(3) development(9) Self Help Skills(1) Touch(1) education system(1) TRAP(1) Pedagogy(2) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) early life(1) Event Guide(1) blog(56) child-centric(1) Book Club(2) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) awards 2020(1) Learning journals(1) children development(1) HR(1) Time Out(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Workforce(1) Covid pandemic(3) Visitors(1) Orla Kenny(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Interaction(1) Reggio(1) Covid-19 lockdown(1) Well-Being(10) MA(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Norway(2) Rituals(1) supportive environments(2) democratic citizens(1) play therapy(1) Patterns(1) scéalta(58) partnership(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Super Shed Stories(2) youdoodle(1) Grief(1) Impact(1) Easter(1) San Miniato(4) Learning through Storytelling(2) Mantra(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) transitions(10) Large Doll Play(1) Thank you(1) Decision Making(1) dining(1) gender bias(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Care-giving routines(1) Playdough(1) Nordic model(1) STEM(3) Breathing(2) Montessori(3) Communications(1) Seas Suas(1) Titles(1) quarantine kids(1) E.coli(1) healthy eating policies(1) an post(1) QRF(1) meals(3) social media(2) Early Years Educators(3) Identity and Belonging(4) Awards Night(1) phone apps(1) Snack Time(1) Home Corner(1) food(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Party(1) Reading Time(2) College(1) man up(1) keezy(1) CPD(1) World book day(1) Magnavacchi(1) Children and families(2) AIM(2) planning(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) annual awards(1) ECEC(4) Italy(1) toddlers(3) Wesco(1) UNCRC(2) Deirdre Rogers(1) code of ethics(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Childhood(2) GoToMeeting app(1) respect(5) Dr. Emer Ring(1) guardian(1) Treasure(1) Counting(1) Reflective Practice(1) Afghanistan(1) Japan(1) Window(1) Children's Book Club(1) education(2) iOS(1) creche(1) listen(1) Trade union(1) Prexit(1) Giraffe(2) dogs(1) Book Review(1) Decisions(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Child Care(1) Budget 2018(1) Meal time(1) Photographs(1) Looking Back(1) Infectious diseases(1) Iraq(1) Online(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) worries(1) Potential(1) Routines(2) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) GDPR(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Light table(1) Investment(2) Culture(2) Childcare(3) Growing up Outdoors(2) Snakes(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) Celebrate(1) MECPI(1) Drawing(2) Builders(1) outdoor environment(1) Anthony Semann(1) Laugh(1) Relaxation(1) Music(3) Research and Professional Learning(1) Community involvement(1) Whole Group(1) Inspections(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) partnership with families(1) Bereavement(2) Leargas(1) Aistear(132) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Study Trip(1) Mindfulness(3) Blocks(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Arlene Forster(1) Awards(2) Early Childhood Education(1) early year’s classrooms(1) Exit interview(1) Wrapping paper(1) Dance(1) United Nations(1) Communicating(1) Unesco(1) COVID-19(18) Arithmetic(1) Confident(1) Limerick(1) women in research(1) science week(2) outdoors(4) homeschool(1) trust(4) primary education(1) Pobal(1) reading(6) Maynooth University(2) continual professional development(1) Oireachtas(1) Equality(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) Competent(1) CIT(1) Independence(1) early childhood(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Jenga(1) purpose(1) Skillnet(1) Yoga(1) Inclusion(3) UK(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) preschools(1) Covid19 crisis(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) Child mental health(1) World Health Organisation(1) emotions(2) risk(2) curiosity(3) Early Learning and Care(2) listening(1) grandchild(1) Síolta QAP(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Hand Hygiene(2) outdoor play(7) Síolta(139) racism(1) Iceland(2) Obesity(1) Workplace Relations(3) Laughter(1) Favouritism(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Performing(1) interacting(2) Engineering Ireland(1) keep in touch(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Europe(1) Facebook(1) Exploratory Play(1) Looking Forward(1) coronavirus(1) feisty(1) pets(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Training(3) University(1) Horizon 2020(1) Pre-School Services(1) Love(3) Return to Work(1) Exclusion(1) The Jelly King(1) Infection Control(1) Diversity(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) research submissions(1) Scéalta Blog(106) journey(1) Mark Twain(1) online training(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Graduate(1) experience(1) Scents(1) Story(2) Smiles(1) Confidence(1) IGL(1) INTO(1) collaboration(1) story time(2) imotion(1) Death(2) Masterclass(2) Painting(1) Mathematicians(1) memories(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Care routines(1) Body Language(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Nutrition(1) Children(8) Mealtimes(1) scientific and artistic processes(1) learning bias(1) science(3) Behaviour(3) social media policy(1) RTE Investigates(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Ceremony(1) Loss(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Academic Skills(1) Inter-generational(2) Art(6) Lego(2) International Narratives(1) Sleep(1) Children's Research Network(2) communication(4) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) playleader(1) Time(1) Fire Safety(1) Valentine's Day(3) Through the looking glass(1) play pod(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Sessional service(1) bloom app(1) Wonder(1) research(8) Autism(4) DCYA(6) Running(1) Twitter(1) Croatia(1) ears(1) Workplace well-being(1) structure(1) quarantine(2) Buddy Bench(1) Design(1) Sweets(1) linc(1) Brain(1) Sculptures(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Capable(1) Teamwork(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Maynooth(1) Children's Rights(3) baby room(1) Shoes(1) annual conference(1) play(37) Celebrations(4) Digital Devices(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Children's Voice(1) Positivity(1) Arts(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Consent(1) Reopening Childcare(1) Research Seminar(1) Storytelling(8) Creativity(7) presentation skills(1) Empathy(1) Adoption(1) AsIAm(2) Identity(5) Frustrations(1) Rich Documentation(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Liz Kerrins(1) EM Standing(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Winter(1) Sequins(1) Elders(1) COVID(3) Regulation 23(1) Trigonometry(1) Wendy Lee(4) multi-generational community(1) Fabric(1) Maria Montessori(1) ReCreate(2) DES Inspection(1) Family(1) Return to Work Training(1) timekeeping skills(1) Universal Design(2) Technology(3) Trade Unions(1) RIE philosphy(1) Weather(1) reopening ireland(1) Academics(1) early years research(3) Certificate(1) Maths Week(1) Mixed age groups(3) Emergent Curriculum(1) Albert Einstein(1) Early Childhood Ireland(10) mushrooms(1) Learning Story(1) Affordability(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) bonds(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Cork(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Staff Motivation(1) behavioural science(1) Anxiety(2) Intention(1) Recycling(2) early years settings(1) Plastic(1) Sustainable(1) Learning Stories(9) Mo Scéal(1) Awards 2019(1) Magda Gerber(1) Settling in(4) Pen green(1) gender stereotype(1) early childhood educator(2) Administrative Burden(1) TUSLA(1) Inspiring Practice(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) refugees(1) Self-Esteem(1) family time(1) Exercise(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Your place(1) Learning Journal(2) Covid response(2) Santa(2) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) under 3's(3) Playschool(1) Proceedings Journal(1) Qualifications(1) dublin(2) Summer(2) Trauma-Sensitive(1) Stress(2) community(5) play stories(2) Wilenski(1) Creative(1) Mayo(1) Kindness(1) Engagement(1) UNICEF report(1) Advocacy(1) National Awards 2019(1) christmas(9) children’s learning(1) Inspirational(2) Maths(6) Support(1) Loving Relationships(2) Learning Stories Award(3) Biting(1) value(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) Siolta blog(8) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) developing motor skills(1) Graduation(1) eating(1) overhear(1) Gardening(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) aistear blog(3) Vertical grouping(1) Pretend Play(1) movement behaviours(1) Margy Whalley(1) CCTV(1) Treasure Chest(1) lockdown(1) Christmas Creativity(2) natural environment(1) Kilkenny(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Maternity Leave(1) NCCA(4) Challenges(1) environments(1) Glitter(2) worldbookday(1) Kids Own(1) EECERA 2016(1) New Appointments(1) risk assessment(1) Role play(1) Penguins(1) Digital(1) Belonging(3) Human Resources(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine