The Art of Storytelling for Kids

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“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
― Philip Pullman

And I agree wholeheartedly. The thing that I remember the most from my childhood are the bedtime stories for kids that my dad used to tell me and my brother. Sometimes the hero would be fictional but often it would be my dad, granddad or their friends. I still remember how he used to often sleep midway through the story and we used to poke him asking “and then what happened”.

The tradition has continued with me and Sam and we indulge in bedtime stories for kids too. I am not a master story spinner like my dad but my favorite technique is to take a classic fairy tale for kids and give it a spin. So the Red Riding hood story becomes a tale about not talking to strangers and the Frog and the princess story becomes a tale about not getting caught in body image.

To tell you more about the art of storytelling for kids, we have today as a guest writer, who is talking about how a parent can become a great storyteller. So over to Nischala!! 

The Art of Storytelling for Kids 

If there’s one skill that every parent should build / enhance / develop if you have a little child at home, it is one of “STORYTELLING”. Personally, I also think it helps to have strong story-telling skills even as your children grow up. Simply because it can be a powerful personal / parenting asset and skill. Looking at my own life, I know of several people much older than me (read as my parents / grandparents generation) who can still find their voice and way (amidst children / adults / power and influence) in any kind of situation through story-telling!

The definition reads as “Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, and images, often by improvisation or embellishment

If you reflect at your own life, you will be quick to recognize that from time immemorial the Indian context and environment has always had stories in abundance. Not one / two, but a zillion wonderful stories which are short, sweet and ALWAYS have a powerful message and take-away! Examples include stories from the Ramayana, stories from the Mahabharata, to the Akbar Birbal tales to the Amar Chithra Katha to Tinkle and more recently the Karadi Tales and all the newer stories for kids you see around you!

Stories are indeed a wonderful communication medium to get your children to listen, to learn, to think, to dream, to share, to bond, to visualize, to express and to communicate. And that’s why probably storytelling for kids has always been so popular and continues to be popular even today.

Here’s the thing ~ If you ever leave your child in the company of any old uncle / aunt / grandparents, then will most likely come back with at least one interesting story under their sleeve! The older generation grew up with these stories, and they remember them even today! And it’s a pleasure to share them with the little children of today!

Here’s the other thing ~ Many of the new age parents don’t remember the details of these old stories. So they need to find ingeniously creative ways to come up with new stories to engage with the children of today.

Now, what I’ve observed in modern parents and their storytelling skills are these:

  • Stories are made on the fly and according to the realities of today. So the characters in your stories are no longer names like Ram / Sita / Krishna / Ganesha , but probably I Pad, Chhota Bheem,Doraemon,Krrish, Barbie , etc.
  • There is no pre-defined script for the story. It is impromptu and improvised at run-time. So no one can really say that they know how the story will end!
  • Stories are closely linked to your individual preferences. So for e.g.: If you like food, you’re story will revolve around food and how 2 monkeys / dogs /  robots were thinking / fighting about food (I’ve seen this live in my family, and can vouch for this!)
  • The hue of your stories change based on the time of the day. So in the morning, your stories are about the sun and evening stories about the moon and stars!
  • Your own knowledge base of old stories and the stories you were told as a child
  • Last but not least, your own imagination

Now looking back at my own life, I have not been much of a story-teller. But once I became a parent, storytelling has become a necessity. And I’m learning with each passing day.

So how can anyone build storytelling skills? Sharing below what’s worked for me:

(1)    Reading – Yes! If you read books  / blogs or even tweets on a daily basis, you get some fuel and fodder to tell a story

(2)    Watching videos on specific subjects / topics on which my story is based (movies, documentaries, short films, songs, etc.)– Again! Once you watch something, it’s easy to spin a yarn to a child

(3)    Speaking to friends / family – Every family has those “special” story-tellers who are gifted with not just a ware-house of stories, but great real-time story telling skills full of special effects (like music, actions, dance, moves, props, etc.). Just observe them and copy (Yes! Copying is fully allowed in the subject called “parenting”. Even my parents said so!)

(4)    Observing the world around you – Just keeping your eyes, ears and mind open can give you many tales to tell your kids

(5)    Sharing notes / stories with other parents – Many stories I tell at home are from the tales of other parents which we have shared with each other during random everyday conversations

(6)    My daughter – She’s a born story-teller and can spin a yarn that makes my head spin many times. And so the catalysis from many of my stories to her actually comes off her own stories.

And as I conclude, I’d have to say that Storytelling is both an art and craft. And as with any art and craft, it needs constant practice to get better with time!

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What about you? Do you think storytelling skills are important?

How can any parent learn this art?

Leave a comment to let me know.

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