The following is a guest post written by Shelli Pabis of Mama of Letters
What I loved most about my “Granny” was the stories she told about growing up on a farm with four brothers, two sisters, and all the “tricks” they pulled. This was my first introduction to the power of a story. Not only did they captivate me, but they gave me insight to where I came from. I can still hear her voice telling them in my mind.
In my twenties, I took a storytelling class by the late J.J. Reneaux, a well-known raconteur in the storytelling world and award-winning author. She became my friend and reinforced my love of storytelling.
Though I don’t have the disposition to become a storyteller who travels and performs in front of live audiences, I decided that I would honor my grandmother and J.J.’s memories by telling stories to my children. I want them to appreciate the art of oral storytelling and benefit from the wisdom that stories impart.
This is why I was thrilled to find Chase Collins’ book, Tell Me a Story: Creating Bedtime Tales Your Children Will Dream On. It was just what I needed to jumpstart my imagination and start making up stories for my five-year-old. If you think you can’t make up stories, then you need to read her book!
Collins offers what she calls the nitty-gritty story structure:
- There was a likeable hero
- who had reason to set out on a journey
- when a threat occurred
- from which there was a hero-inspired way out
- which resulted in a safe return and a happy ending.
Truth be told, I don’t always use that structure, but I have found it helpful at times. What I have done is create two loveable characters named Jack and Piper, and now my son requests a story about them every night. Sometimes it’s easier for me to tell a story that is more like a “slice of life,” but I always use another suggestion that Collins makes. She says to use something from your child’s life that has special meaning for him or her.
For example, my son has been into snakes lately, so many of my stories about Jack and Piper include snakes. When my son was showing interest in learning how to play a musical instrument, I had Jack take flute lessons, and I explained what hard work it was to learn how to play!
Though I love books (and if you came to my house, you would see that we are book people), telling a story to a child is much more meaningful than reading a book to them. As Chase Collins writes, “Your children will be touched to have you affirm the imaginative world they live in, and you will show them that, along with the facts, you also see some magic in the universe.”
My son has never turned down an offer for me to tell him a story. I was also thrilled when after telling him stories for a few weeks, he wanted to tell ME a story! What better way could I have ignited his imagination and given him a chance to polish his speaking skills at the same time?
Simply put, telling stories to children is an expression of love, and by telling your own stories, you will unconsciously share your life, wisdom, beliefs and values with your child.
Here’s a list of some of the benefits of storytelling:
- You can teach your children in a unique way that they will want to listen and remember.
- Storytelling ignites the imagination.
- Stories both entertain and impart wisdom.
- It fosters listening and comprehension skills.
- It teaches speaking skills.
- Storytelling is part of our language arts, which is a vital part of any child’s education!
- Stories help people understand their place in the world. For children, stories can help them understand who they are, where they come from, and the world they live in.
- It’s relaxing. A stress-reducer!
- Storytelling provides valuable one-on-one time between the teller and listener(s).
- Similarly, storytelling connects people and communities. It’s a positive form of communication that fosters compassion and understanding.
- Stories preserve cultures, beliefs and values and share those cultures, beliefs and values with the rest of the world.
Start telling stories to your child today, and you’ll give them a gift that they’ll treasure for the rest of their lives!
How have you found storytelling useful in your homeschool?