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  • Writer's pictureAnn-Marie Kogan

Enhancing Story Time with an Inclusive Teaching Practice

Updated: May 7

a girl reading a book
girl reading book

In the world of early childhood education, fostering a welcoming and nurturing environment is key to a child's learning and development. As educators, it's our responsibility to ensure that every child, regardless of their background, feels valued and respected. In this blog post, we'll explore how to make story time more inclusive and equitable in the early childhood classroom.


Understanding Inclusive and Equitable Practices:


Before delving into specific strategies, let's grasp the concept of inclusive and equitable teaching practices. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) advocates for creating a caring and equitable community of engaged learners. This involves adopting an asset-based perspective of your students, self-reflecting on biases, and engaging with families. Educators must also intentionally embed inclusive and equitable practices into their teaching strategies to promote a sense of belonging and support among children.


The CASEL Framework for Equitable Learning:


One effective way to incorporate inclusive practices into your classroom is by adopting the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning's (CASEL) 3 Signature Practices framework. This framework encourages purposeful integration of three key inclusive practices into lesson planning:


  • a Welcoming Activity: routines or rituals that set expectations and foster group cohesiveness.

  • an Engaging Strategy: activities that support relationship building and deeper learning.

  • an Intentional Closure: activities that support group cohesiveness and continued learning.


Implementing 3 Signature Practices in Story Time:


Welcoming Practice: the goal of applying a Welcoming Practice to story time is to foster an environment of whole group connection where every student is welcome to participate in the activity. CASEL recommends developing routines and rituals as part of an inclusive welcoming practice, which will help create a sense of belonging.


  • Use consistent attentional signals to communicate the transition to story time

  • Conduct story time in a consistent classroom location

  • Post visual aids that help young children understand the story time schedule and story time classroom rules

  • Start each story time with a familiar song or activity that encourages both verbal and nonverbal participation

Further resources to explore on developing classroom routines and rituals:


Engaging Strategy Practice: the goal of applying an Engaging Strategy practice to story time is to create opportunities for student voice to be heard, support peer-peer and student-educator relationship building , and make the story's content more meaningful for children.


  • Make story time interactive by using the evidence-based strategy of dialogic reading.

  • Promote discussion and deeper thinking by planning prompts using the CROWD strategy (Completion, Recall, Open-ended, Wh-, Distancing)

  • Encourage both verbal and nonverbal responses from children.

Further resources to explore on using a dialogic reading strategy:

Intentional Close Activities: the goal of applying an Intentional Close practice to story time is to close the activity in a purposeful way and support extended learning and positive anticipation for when the group meets again.


  • Prompt extended learning through questions or suggest follow-up activities. i.e. "What did this story make you curious about?, “What will I do next?”

  • Establish closing rituals or routines to signal the end of story time and support smooth transitions.




The 3 Signature Practices framework provides a flexible approach for educators to create an inclusive and engaging story time experience. By adopting these strategies, you enhance the learning environment and support children’s sense of value and belonging in the classroom.







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