Children these days are rarely inclined to read or be told stories to anymore--childhood activities most of us wish we could share to our children. Back then, we had time to listen and relate. Our stories were fairytales or just personal experiences told to us without television screens, gadgets, apps, or emoticons. The generation of kids now are missing out on this important part of growing up. Instead, they are stuck with their mobile phones and video games all day.
Whatever happened to storytelling and verbal expression? Has technology been killing this age-old tradition?
"Storytelling is an art, and storytellers, the sculptors of our psyche.” We, the parents, are the sculptors of the many young minds, and storytelling is the art form which awakens a child’s imagination. This is where his ability to dream and to visualize all come from. They are made to experience different emotions, put themselves in those situations and are made to wonder what is next--in their minds. But most importantly, all stories stay faithful to their truth and values regardless of time and culture.
Anne Rutherford, a professional storyteller, once said that “the art of storytelling is not lost, only misplaced. Whatever the age or circumstance, if it is a good story and it is well told… We have the ability to respond to that. However, what I think we are losing is the opportunity to be in those situations.”
This is encouraging, because it means that storytelling is not gone, but just evolving, growing and changing with the times. The elements of narrative are all there, but are no longer shared in the same manner as we used to. The form was just altered and has embedded itself in our technology today.
ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Because children now are the overstimulated social media generation, the traditional concept of storytelling requires an adjustment in the digital age. In order to be successful with this new truth, the content and manner of storytelling has to be creative, compelling and relevant. It must resonate and be able to create a genuine connection. We want them to experience the stories and lose themselves in the imagined world we created for them.
Here are some ways for us parents to introduce storytelling to our children. We must remember that there is no right or wrong way to tell a story, and that anyone can do it! What makes it even more memorable to a child is the effort and the heart you put into each story you tell.
Create a regular story time. This can be done at dinner or better yet, before going to bed when he is most relaxed and there are less distractions. This will be a good time to bond, and most often, the voice of a parent calms down and gives comfort to a child. If you are unable to spend time with your child during the day, a bedtime story can be a good way to make up for it somehow.
Prepare a “story jar” with ideas. Simply take a clean jar (or any container) and fill it with story ideas written on strips of paper. Family members can take turns picking from the jar each evening. The idea is just to have something to jumpstart a story. Sample topics include: the best gift I ever received, my favorite subject in school, a recent field trip, what I plan to do during the holidays, what I want to say to Santa. The list goes on.
Let them choose their story. Kids sometimes have favorites and it is completely alright to let them choose the ones they love the most.
Do "string-a-long stories." This can be a fun activity especially when there are more participants involved. The story can start with “Once upon a time….” then the person next in line says something that connects to it. This makes children use their imagination and anticipate what might come next.
Make it fun and make it short. Especially for the younger ones, we have to increase interest. Make it a short story the first time and gradually include more details later on. You don't even have to read every word on the page. It will also help to exaggerate words and vary our tone, loudness, expression, or we can also role-play the actions. Expose them to your own dazzling manner of storytelling!
Experiment with wordless books. Even just a picture is worth a thousand words already. Picture books provide a setting for visual cues to inspire the imagination and a more active storytelling.
Reward them for listening. A simple applause and a pat on the back can be a nice touch and will be encouraging for the child. He will want to hear your stories over and over again!