By Fredrica Syren:
My children go to a Waldorf school, and at one parent meeting the teacher talked about storytelling and how important it is for kids. I remember as a child how much fun it was when adults would tell stories, whether fiction or life stories. I remember fondly our Sunday School teacher reading stories at the end of class. We all would sit completely still, mesmerized by the story and disappointed when it was over because it meant we had to wait another week before hearing it again.
Now I read books to my kids all the time. Their favorites are the ones I read using fun voices. They and I love snuggling up on the sofa or bed when I read to them. I can tell that they will make up plays or games for themselves based on these stories.
We also try to tell stories we make up ourselves. It might seem like a hard thing to do, but I found that once you get started, it will flow. Quite frankly, the kids really don’t judge our stories; they just enjoy them instead. Lately, Bella, who is now 9 and Noah who is 5, wants to be part of creating the story. Yesterday I made up a story about a bunny named Ben who realized he really didn’t like eating carrots because he didn’t like the color orange. Yes, simple with many possibilities. Some days I just tell a fun story from my life. They really enjoy hearing about the time Mommy and Daddy got married, or when we went scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef. Sometimes Daddy will just tell about his day and they can tell us about theirs.
I really feel that storytelling is beneficial to kids in so many ways: mentally, socially and educationally. The fact is that most people, no matter what age, like hearing stories. I also feel that storytelling is becoming a lost art, especially because we’re becoming busier and busier. It’s so easy to place kids in front of the TV or computer for stories, but it really is not a good substitute for someone’s reading to them.
Family stories can be told anywhere and almost at any time. They just take our time and some imagination or our own memories. These stories can make children think, let their fantasy flow and inspire them. But, most important, they will have these stories for a lifetime and you will have the memories of bonding.