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:

Budget 2018(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Awards Night(1) Human Resources(1) Inclusion(3) Mindfulness(2) Creativity(4) Teamwork(1) Prexit(1) Time Out(1) curriculum(5) Afghanistan(1) Whole Group(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Routines(2) Graduation(1) Nutrition(1) Decision Making(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Sleep(1) ECEC(2) Adoption(1) Mealtimes(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Exploring and Thinking(1) College(1) Celebrate(1) Workforce(1) Wonder(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Time(1) mushrooms(1) Affordability(1) Spiders(1) Childcare(3) animals(2) trust(3) Sport(1) planning(1) Painting(1) Orla Kenny(1) iOS(1) Scéalta Blog(94) Arlene Forster(1) experience(1) Document Learning(1) Learning journals(1) CPD(1) Staff Motivation(1) Visual Impairment(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Change(1) toddlers(3) overhear(1) Twitter(1) Interests(1) Research Seminar(1) Advocacy(1) meals(3) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Sequins(1) San Miniato(4) Laugh(1) Certificate(1) Death(2) Children's Voice(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Kerry(1) collaboration(1) learning(19) Academic Skills(1) eating(1) Support(1) Reflective Practice(1) Seas Suas(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Rich Documentation(1) University(1) UD(1) Montessori(3) Weather(1) Oireachtas(1) Trade Unions(1) listen(1) Plastic(1) under 3's(3) Shapes(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Body Language(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) risky play(2) Wendy Lee(3) babies(7) Eritrea(1) Community involvement(1) Socioemotional development(1) Trick or treat(1) stories(2) ECCE(7) Competent(1) Confidence(1) AsIAm(2) Dance(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) educarer(1) Positivity(1) Ceremony(1) Engagement(1) Administrative Burden(1) community(5) Norway(2) Autism(4) science(3) Learning Stories Award(3) Little Buddies(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Digital Devices(1) development(8) Summer(1) INTO(1) Childhood(1) Sessional service(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Funding(1) Technology(3) School Age Childcare(1) Yoga(1) Vertical grouping(1) Appreciation(1) Masterclass(2) Meet the Members(1) budget(1) christmas(9) keezy(1) emotional environment(1) Breathing(2) Research and Professional Learning(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Traffic Lights(1) Child mental health(1) E.coli(1) Halloween(2) Favouritism(1) Self-regulation(1) Party(1) ICBN(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Children(3) Maths(5) Performing(1) Employee(1) Mayo(1) Our Little Seed(1) Mount Everest(1) code of ethics(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Children and families(1) Online(1) First 5(1) Arithmetic(1) Inter-generational(2) Creative(1) Feeding(1) Investment(2) Buddy Bench(1) learners(1) First 5 strategy(1) Facebook(1) Inspections(1) Horizon 2020(1) ERASMUS+(3) Italy(1) Sociodramatic play(1) CCTV(1) Early Years Educators(3) Reggio Emilia(1) maternity health(1) Reggio(1) Siolta blog(7) Wilenski(1) Children's Research Network(1) Quality(4) Self Help Skills(1) memories(1) The Jelly King(1) PIP(1) Sustainable(1) Arts(1) Behaviour(3) SPICE Framework(1) Diversity(1) Games(1) listening(1) Sculptures(1) Plants(1) ReCreate(2) Academics(1) AIM(2) Biting(1) Kilkenny(1) play(32) Research Conference 2019(1) UN(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Maternity Leave(1) dogs(1) Loss(1) Building Resilience(1) Fee Play(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Engineers Week(2) Communications(1) Home Corner(1) bonds(1) Through the looking glass(1) Thinking(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) imotion(1) Winter(1) Thanks(1) Margy Whalley(1) Shoes(1) GDPR(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Leargas(1) Book Club(2) Music(3) Independence(1) Maths Week(1) Participation(2) documentation(3) youdoodle(1) risk assessment(1) bloom app(1) COVID-19(2) Japan(1) Treasure Chest(1) relationships(17) Exit interview(1) outdoors(3) transitions(10) Hand Hygiene(1) Infectious diseases(1) Mud kitchens(1) Exclusion(1) Map(1) National Awards 2018(2) Self-Esteem(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Snacks(1) Giraffe(2) environments(1) early years learning(1) Awards 2018(3) Scéalta Book Review(1) Mixed age groups(2) Playdough(1) respect(5) Potential(1) Art(6) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) TRAP(1) awards 2020(1) Síolta QAP(1) Recycling(2) Light table(1) Workplace well-being(1) Workplace Relations(3) supportive environments(2) Confident(1) Cognitive development(1) Touch(1) Brain(1) books(4) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Wrapping paper(1) Exercise(1) Albert Einstein(1) Consent(1) Budget 2020(1) conversations(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Family wall(1) Story(1) grandchild(1) Culture(2) reading(5) Storytelling(5) Love(2) Engineering(3) early childhood educator(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Liz Kerrins(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Learning Story(1) outdoor space(3) worries(1) pablo(1) Queues(1) social science(1) Wesco(1) Visitors(1) Iceland(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Study Trip(1) Care routines(1) value(1) educating(1) role playing(1) ears(1) curiosity(3) annual conference(1) child-centred approach(1) routine(2) Drawing(2) Iraq(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Graduate(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Names(1) Impact(1) Glitter(2) Grief(1) risk(2) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) social media(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Meal time(1) feisty(1) Degree(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) Trigonometry(1) Blocks(1) HR(1) Capable(1) purpose(1) dublin(2) Photographs(1) food(1) Care-giving routines(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Pobal(1) structure(1) Belonging(3) Elders(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) learning bias(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Obesity(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Magnavacchi(1) refugees(1) continual professional development(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Decisions(1) Interactions(2) Builders(1) National Awards 2019(1) Malaguzzi(1) Scents(1) Policy(2) Role play(1) Easter(1) Children's Rights(3) Craft(1) MECPI(1) Frustrations(1) Infection Control(1) RIE philosphy(1) Thank you(1) story time(2) Maynooth University(1) Imagination(3) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) ECEC Setting(1) Upcycling(1) pets(1) EECERA 2016(1) preschool settings(1) gender bias(1) Fabric(1) Leadership(1) TOY Programme(1) parents(6) IGL(1) Well-Being(9) phone apps(1) Pen green(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Inspirational(2) Qualifications(1) European Project(1) United Nations(1) Trade union(1) Social Skills(1) dining(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) conference(1) research submissions(1) Learning Stories(9) Awards(2) Patterns(1) Vietnam(1) gender stereotype(1) DCYA(4) Recycle(1) Traditions(2) Awards 2019(1) Communicating(1) Snakes(1) dining experiences(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) RTE Investigates(1) Anxiety(2) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Maynooth(1) education(2) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Celebrations(4) Performance Management(1) Window(1) Design(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Kids Own(1) linc(1) Smiles(1) Laughter(1) Limerick(1) behavioural science(1) Book Review(1) Reading Time(1) CIT(1) journey(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) baby room(1) Maria Montessori(1) life long learning(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Lego(2) apps for children(1) early years research(2) NCCA(3) Ariana Pucci(1) Exploring(1) Aistear(116) Department of Education and Skills(1) New Appointments(1) man up(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) STEM(3) Educators(2) interacting(2) Empathy(1) aistear blog(3) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Identity(5) NAEYC(1) scéalta(30) Snack Time(1) Nonverbal(1) Gratitude(1) Family(1) friendships(1) Playschool(1) Mathematicians(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) play stories(1) Early Learning and Care(1) Syria(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) UNCRC(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Intention(1) Santa(2) St. Patrick's Day(1) Super Shed Stories(1) DES Inspection(1) Gardening(1) Mantra(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Leprechauns(1) Line-ups(1) emotions(2) Frosty the Snowman(1) Running(1) Penguins(1) EM Standing(1) Magic(1) Sweets(1) Interaction(1) Primary School(2) science week(2) National Holiday(1) Sustainability(3) Mental Health(3) Digital(1) outdoor play(6) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Treasure(1) Bereavement(2) Magda Gerber(1) Professionalisation(5) Cork(1) Stress(2) Titles(1) Valentine's Day(3) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Irish(1) Environment(2) Jenga(1) research(6) communication(4) Reggio Children Network(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Learning Journal(1) preschool(3) Xbox(1) MA(1) Challenges(1) Síolta(110) Mark Twain(1) Fantasy play(1) Youtube Series(1) Flowers(1) Relaxation(1) Rituals(1) code of professional responsibility(1) Settling in(4) Event Guide(1) blog(28) Budget 2019(2) Training(2) Universal Design(2) Mo Scéal(1) Early Years(1) Buddies(1) Health(2) Supernanny(1) Educator of the Year Award(3)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine