Read it, tell it, or make it up as you go along

Storytelling goes beyond just putting your kids to bed

Back in the day when there were no newscasts or newspapers, it was storytellers that kept communities informed by going from town to town spreading the word.

Even though we now read our news on tablets, we still love to hear the stories told out loud, and so do our children. There is a reason for that: “storytelling is perhaps the most powerful way that human beings organize experience” 5

Telling stories and reading stories is not (or shouldn’t be) just something we do as a preamble to putting our kids to bed. It is said to open children’s minds to other cultures and life philosophies, while encouraging their imagination and creative thinking 1. It also instills virtues, as most stories have a moral, while making them aware of their own culture and roots 2. From a purely developmental perspective, story telling enhances verbal proficiency, listening skills, sharpens memory and helps to deal with difficult situations (by way of learning how problems are worked out in the stories) 2.

So this is great news, but how can we make the best out of our storytelling time? We can read stories, tell stories from our memory, or make up stories as we go along. For those of us interested in the latter two, we can look to our own past: perhaps invent a character and use our own past events to create adventures. One can also tell the story in the first person 1 and/or let he kid contribute his/her own ideas, or fill in the blanks. Experts say not too worry too much about content, but one should focus on the story structure, (especially - character, setting, problem & resolution) 4.

You can also read or tell stories to your child in whatever language you feel most comfortable speaking 3. By doing so you will communicate more easily, and your “child will still learn that words are made up of different letters, syllables and sounds, and that words usually link to the pictures on the page” 3. Dual-language books are a great resource, yet an alternative is to read a book in English and talk about it with your child in whatever language you are most comfortable with 3.

A great deal of literature and advice exists on storytelling for children. We have extracted the top ten tips we believe are the most valuable to optimize yours and your child’s story-time experience.

The What

  • Kids usually like books, songs and stories that have good rhyme, rhythm and repetition 3.
  • If telling stories, consider family stories 1, look to your own past 2, or for the stories you love or have heard, such as folktales 1.
  • If reading books, let your child choose which ones when he’s old enough to start asking 3.
  • Be prepared to read favorite books over and over again 3.

The Where

  • The place should have a conducive mood and ambiance for storytelling 2. A comfortable reading chair can become part of your reading routine 3.
  • Turn off the TV, tablets and other electronics, and find a quiet place to read so your kid can hear your voice 3.

The How

  • Use proper hand gestures and facial expressions 2: try out funny noises and sounds – play and have fun! 3.
  • Involve your child by using various phrases or by asking them questions 2, encouraging talk about the pictures, or by repeating familiar words and phrases3.
  • Make a routine and try to share one book every day 3.
  • Hold your child close while you read, so she/he can see your face and the book3.

 

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References

(1) Storytelling for Children, by Pam Myers. Child Development Institute.

https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-activities/storytelling-for-children/

 (2) 10 Benefits Of Storytelling For Kids by Palak Shah, momjunction.com

http://www.momjunction.com/articles/benefits-story-telling-yor-kids_0036903/

(3) Reading and storytelling with babies and children, by Raising Children Network.

http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/reading.html

(4) The Art of Storytelling by Daryl Bellingham. storytell.com.au

http://www.storytell.com.au/artnscreat.html

(5) Storytelling in the First Three Years by Susan Engel, zwerotothree.org

https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1057-storytelling-in-the-first-three-years


Jorge Gallego
Jorge Gallego

Author



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This storytelling telling article is great!

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