Let his wacky rhymes inspire your family's playful storytelling.
- Parker Barry
Today, in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, kids across America will celebrate reading as part of Read Across America. Seuss’ silly stories, filled with rhyme and wordplay, have been favorites for generations, inspiring a love of reading in kids and adults.
We parents know that reading is fundamental for kids, but parents can encourage language development and increase kids’ literacy, even without a book in hand, through creative storytelling. Of course, the time spent together sharing the stories is priceless. But kids can reap other benefits too, including:
- vocabulary development
- comprehension skills that will lead to stronger readers
- critical thinking and listening skills
- moral lessons the storyteller throws in
Look to Dr. Seuss himself for inspiration on how to become a master creative storyteller.
- 1. Mix outrageous characters with relatable characters. The Cat in the Hat ranks among the most outrageous characters in kids’ literature, delighting kids with his crazy and risky antics, while Dick and Sally are relatable characters for kids. When making up stories, include zany characters sure to get a laugh alongside characters your kids can identify with — or put your own kids right into the stories! You’re the storyteller, so you can do whatever you want.
- 2. Have fun with words. Rhyming is fun and educational. It familiarizes kids with word families, which will help them when learning to read and write independently, and rhymes are so catchy and easy to remember. We all know “I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I am!” It can be tricky, though, to find just the right word when telling a story out loud, off the cuff, so don’t get all snergelly and hide your stories away in your lerkim. Take inspiration from Seuss and make up a word that fits just what you need. (You’ll get a laugh, probably, at great speed.)
- 3. Teach important lessons. Oral storytelling began as fairy tales and fables, a way for one generation to pass along history and moral lessons to the next generation. Dr. Seuss books do a lovely job of gently teaching kids to be themselves, to take care of the environment and to look beyond physical differences. The beauty of making up and telling kids your own stories is that you get to choose what lessons to teach. You can cater your message to what your kid needs to hear from you — be that encouragement to build them up, reminders to treat others gently or just letting them know they are loved.
- 4. It’s OK to borrow. Still, making up your own stories isn’t easy. It’s fine to borrow inspiration from familiar stories and change things up a little bit – altering character names or the ending. The important thing is to have fun and enjoy sharing time and words.