May is ‘National Share a Story’ month, so here at Your East Sussex we’re taking the opportunity to highlight why sharing a story can be so important.

Statistics from 2014 show that one in five children in England cannot read well by the age of 11*, and that around 5.8 million people (16% of adults) in England and Northern Ireland score at the lowest level of proficiency in literacy.**

So what better way to tackle both problems at once than by encouraging adults to share stories with their children?

A lifelong love of reading

We asked our librarian Claire Morley to tell us why she thinks sharing stories is so important.

“Sharing stories with children is a lovely opportunity to spend quality time together. It shows your child that you value reading as an activity, and hopefully it will help them develop a lifelong love of reading too.

“It’s also an opportunity to have fun together, as well as share ideas and thoughts about what you’ve read, and understand the world around you. I think it’s important to keep sharing stories even when your children get older as well – you can enjoy more challenging texts together and keep the bond of sharing a special time.

“I still remember my parents taking it in turns to read The Acts Of King Arthur And His Noble Knights to my older sister and me when I was around 9 years old. The stories had me enthralled – even though there were no pictures!”

Claire also is keen to highlight the other skills that regular reading encourages.

“As well as the development of speech and language skills that reading to children offers, sharing stories also helps with empathy, problem solving, social skills, numeracy, as well increasing confidence and enhancing their incredible imaginations.”

Where do I start?

This may all sound like a lovely idea, but in England, statistics show that 31% of adults don’t read in their free time, rising to 46% of young people (aged 16 to 24)***, so what if you don’t feel confident reading to your child?

Don’t worry, Claire has some top tips of how to start building up your confidence.

  • Start with any stories that you loved as a child. You can talk about your experiences of reading it as a child and discover what they love about it.
  • Books like You Choose asks the reader questions such as ‘if you could live anywhere, where would you live?’ with lots of pictures to then look at and talk about. This is such a fantastic and easy way to start talking about books with children.
  • Choose a story you have read before and enjoy. You can talk about the pictures and make up your own stories together using those if you don’t want to read the text. Some picture books don’t have any words at all. Your child really won’t mind what you read together – they’ll just enjoy spending the time with you. You can also listen to audio books together.

Time for an adventure!

The theme of National Share a Story month this year is ‘travelling tales’, so we’ve asked our librarians to compile a list of brilliant books that involve travel or journeys, to give you some inspiration for embarking on your own reading journey with your children. Happy travels!

*[DfE (2015) Reading: the next steps p.13]

**[OECD (2013) England & Northern Ireland (UK): Country Note–Survey of Adult Skills First Results p. 6]

***[DCMS (2018) Taking Part Survey: Free Time Activities Focus Report, 2017/18 p. 2]

You can read more statistics about reading on The Reading Agency’s website.


See for yourself how fun sharing stories can be at one of our rhymetime or storytime sessions. Maybe even pick up a few tips! We’d love to hear about your favourite books for sharing! Tell us in the comments below.