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Storytelling: A Gift for Your Children

Lucia Gonzalez

Take a look at these video clips about storytelling from Lucía González, Pat Mora, and others!

Do you remember a favorite story from your childhood? Or perhaps a favorite storyteller, such as a grandmother or an uncle? Storyteller Lucía González does — her Great Aunt Nena. As a young girl growing up in Cuba, Lucía and her cousins would gather to listen to Nena's scary stories, and to this day, Lucía says, they still talk about those stories at family reunions.

Your stories

Everyone has stories to tell — favorite folk tales or fairy tales, stories from childhood, stories learned from friends or other family members, or stories about what happened yesterday. Here are six reasons why storytelling is such an important gift to share with your children.

  • Heritage: Stories give children a strong connection to their family and their heritage. Stories may provide them with a connection to a place that is far away or people they would like to know better, and stories about your life provide them with a special connection to you. Your children may also find that their friends from different countries have learned similar stories!
  • Language: Stories are a rich way to strengthen your child's language skills and vocabulary, whether it's in a first or second language. Tell your stories in the language that is most comfortable to you.
  • Reading Skills: Storytelling enforces reading skills by helping children become familiar with different parts of a story, such as characters, sequence, and the plot. Even if you share your stories through conversation, you will provide your kids with important tools that will help them once they begin to read stories.
  • Lessons Learned: Telling stories can be a gentle way to share a lesson or talk about a difficult topic with your child. Ask your child what he has learned from the stories and characters you share with him.
  • Anytime, anywhere: You can tell stories just about anywhere - in the car, at the dinner table, or at bedtime. And you can tell stories with or without a book. For example, Lucía's Great Aunt Nena never learned to read, but that didn't stop her from telling unforgettable stories!
  • Imagination: Listening to stories encourages children to use their imagination and immerse themselves completely in another world, whether it's funny, exciting, or a little bit scary! This ability to create a "movie" in their mind will help them with comprehension as they learn to read - and will help them come up with ideas when they begin writing.

Storytelling Tips

If you're having trouble thinking of a story, remember your childhood. Were there folk tales or legends you heard in school? Were there family stories that were repeated over and over? What experiences do you remember when you think about your childhood? It's ok to start with something small! When you tell a story, use:

  • different voices and facial expressions
  • descriptive language
  • repetitive phrases for younger children
  • toys, puppets, or stuffed animals if you have them available

Finally, don't hesitate to tell younger children the same story many times or a story that uses the same line or phrase many times — the repetition will help them build their language skills, and one day they'll be able to tell you the story!

You may not think of yourself as a storyteller now, but once your children discover your secret talent, you will be surprised at how popular your stories become in your family!

Video Clips: The Importance of Storytelling

References

Raines, Shirley C., and Isbell, Rebecca. "Storytelling Tips for Oral Language Development." Originally published in Tell It Again! Easy-to-Tell Stories with Activities for Young Children. Gryphon House, Inc. 1999. Retrieved from http://www.literacyconnections.com/Storytelling.php.

Sundararaj, Aneeta. "The lost art of storytelling." Originally published in Better Homes & Gardens, 1995. Retrieved from http://www.howtotellagreatstory.com/articles/article49.html.