Storytelling is intimate, personal, and engaging. It’s also a fun and inexpensive way to help kids learn on many levels. It exposes children to language and imagery and helps develop listening and organizational skills, which can be applied to reading and writing. Stories can also expose children to a variety of people and cultures, as well as bring them into the creative world, where extreme emotions, such as anger and fear, can be expressed.
Themes for stories can be taken from the Bible, mythology, legends, the environment, and fairy tales. Family anecdotes and experiences are also fertile ground for story ideas. And, while kids may learn how to read, storytelling is an immediate and personal way to pass on family values and history.
The tools are basic. First and foremost, the story has to be entertaining. No matter how good the material, if it’s presented in a boring manner, no one will listen. To help ensure a captive audience, professional storytellers offer the following suggestions to weave a magical spell:
- Don’t exaggerate unless the purpose of the story is silly or nonsensical entertainment.
- Believe in the story you are telling, either literally or symbolically or both.
- Use a soft, natural, and pleasing voice.
- Have a strong start and finish. Use a compelling line, description, or section at the beginning to grab the audience and a strong line at the end to wrap the story up.
- Pick your words carefully. Children enjoy a new language and words with strange sounds if there are not too many in the story. The rhythm of a tale can be broken by having to stop frequently to explain complicated words.
Use repetitive language or sounds, which young listeners can grasp onto and even join in and repeat.