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.
(1) Storytelling for Children, by Pam Myers. Child Development Institute.
(2) 10 Benefits Of Storytelling For Kids by Palak Shah, momjunction.com
(3) Reading and storytelling with babies and children, by Raising Children Network.
(4) The Art of Storytelling by Daryl Bellingham. storytell.com.au
(5) Storytelling in the First Three Years by Susan Engel, zwerotothree.org