Wednesday, 24 July 2013 00:47

Story! Story!

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family storytelling traditionsSome of my grandkids and their parents recently participated in a summer theatrical pageant.  For four weeks they went to rehearsals and performances from dusk until late at night.  It totally undermined their bedtime schedules, meal times, and sleep patterns, but it was a marvelous opportunity for them to spend time as a family cut off from the multi-media chaos we've come to accept as normal.  They had a lot of down time waiting on the grassy hillside for their Que.  Since they didn't have anything else they could do, they started telling stories.  Personal stories, make believe stories, family stories, it didn't matter what kind of stories really, just that they were telling stories.  The fun part was that they all took turns.  The family was a captive audience, so to speak.  So even the three year old could claim their undivided attention!  You know what they found out?  He was really interesting and entertaining!  They all were.


In tribal cultures, stories created a bond of the past to the present and future, a sense of hope and comfort, and a way to preserve traditions and share values.  Storytelling is the most basic form of communication between people as well as the world's oldest art form, yet in our technical world it is drowned out in the multi-media sea.  A study by the U.S. Department of Education in 1986, What Works: Research About Teaching and Learning declares: "Storytelling can ignite the imaginations of children, giving them a taste for where books can take them.  The excitement of storytelling can make reading and learning fun and can instill in children a sense of wonder about life and learning."

Storytelling in families binds hearts and souls together.  The stories themselves have their own unique power for teaching values and expanding imaginations, but there's more to this storytelling thing than simply learning.  It creates community and camaraderie and shared memory.  It strengthens family ties.

family storytelling traditionsMy family was lucky, the situation they were in led them into a storytelling environment, but such things happen rarely.  You need to get purposeful about creating the space and time for storytelling in your family.  Any time you have them "captive" can be such a moment.  While you're driving car-pool or sitting at the table, for example.  Keep the multi-media off and just start asking story prompting questions.

What was your favorite project in school?  Tell me about your teacher? (For more excellent story prompting questions like these check out our Chat Cards and get the stories flowing!)

Last modified on Thursday, 22 August 2013 11:57
Teresa Clark

A national award-winning storyteller, historian and author, she is best known for her original works and recollections of life's experiences blended with history. Teresa has presented and performed throughout the United States. Of her, it has been said, "Charming, witty, soulful, and wise, her performances are filled with a compelling sense of wonder and an irresistable zest for life." Her story work involves performance, education, production, and advocacy. From the main stage to individual consultations in living rooms across America, she delights in the excavation and sharing of family story. Most importantly, she is a wife, mother, and grandmother to her favorite playmates and best friends.

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