Narrative Skills

An ability to understand and tell stories and describe events.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?  Narrative skills help children learn story structure, predict what will happen in a story, understand what they read, and build critical thinking skills.


• Talk to your baby as you go through your day, telling him what you are doing.
• Listen to your baby’s responses when you talk – it may be a sound, a wiggle, or an expression – and respond back.
• Share nursery rhymes and bounces with a strong sequence. As you sing them over and over, she’s learning that certain sounds and actions can be anticipated.
• Share books that relate to your baby’s life and talk about what you see in the pictures.

• Narrate the day for your toddler, from the repetition of getting dressed to talking about what you are going to do later.  For familiar activities, ask what comes next – “shoes or socks next? Can you hand me one?”
• Listen to your child’s questions and pause to give him time to repeat a word or two.   Ask her “what do you see?” or “what happened?” Affirm and enrich her simple answer with a descriptive word “Yes! It’s a brown doggie”.
• Rhyme: Some nursery rhymes are mini-narratives with a beginning, middle and end.
• Read books with a simple plot in which something happens.
• Read and re-read books that give your child a chance to participate by saying what’s coming next, lifting the flaps, or making animal noises.
• Share simple wordless or nearly wordless books and encourage your child to help “read” the story.

• Give your child lots of opportunities to talk with you.
• Ask questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no”. Encourage your child to think and increase their understanding.
• Read books with a repeated pattern or cumulative structure.
• Enjoy wordless and nearly wordless books that have more complex plots and details. Let your pre-reader help build the narrative by ‘reading’ the pictures.
• Retell favorite stories. Use toys or props to extend the fun and stretch imaginative skills.
• Create verbal stories together. Start with “once upon a time there was a ____” and let your preschooler fill in the blank. Take turns building and retelling the narrative with a beginning, middle, and end.
• Create pictures and books that tell a story. Have your child draw the pictures and tell you the words to write down. Make a scene with stickers and write down what he says is happening.
• Play and imagine. When your preschooler imagines, you are invited into a world-building narrative. Enjoy the adventure together.