Why would you buy a story CD or digital download for your child and what IS storytelling anyway? Storytelling can stimulate imagination, build emotional resilience, develop concentration and shorten journeys.
Storytelling and stories for the modern audience
The story is told eye to eye, mind to mind and heart to heart. -Scottish Traveller Proverb
Storytelling is an ancient art, which has enjoyed a modern revival which started in the seventies. Ancestral stories and the folktale have since been adapted to suit modern audiences. Storytelling is the perfect antidote to our overly technological and impersonal age, where we can be overwhelmed with ‘soundbytes’. Our children get bombarded with advertising messages via TV, ipods and the internet. Many of these messages we’d rather they never heard. While recorded stories may not be delivered eye to eye, they can feel very much like they are coming ‘mind to mind and heart to heart’.
Stories ‘shorten the road’
The Irish have a saying: “A story makes the road shorter.” In other words, you don’t notice time pass when you’re deeply engrossed in a great yarn. Our car journeys became vastly more pleasant after stocking up with story CD’s and audiobooks for our journey which the whole family could enjoy.
Stories as soul food
Quality stories, told skilfully and thoughtfully can nourish the soul while fostering imagination, emotional resilience, moral values and critical thinking. The level of concentration required to follow a story is very high, yet the magic of stories with a folktale structure is such, that modern children can still sink deeply and effortlessly into them. Even very exciting stories can generate a feeling of relaxation, because they create such an intensity of focus or ‘entrainment’. (To read a short blog post on the value of stories as soulfood read “Storytelling Bread for the Soul” . Or for a more in depth, academic style article on the power of folktales, see my storytreetales blogs post ‘Frightful witches and kissable toads’.)
Children need to have ample opportunity to exercise their imaginations so that they can begin to see that the pictures in their minds are valid too. Storytelling is an unmatched as a tool for stimulating the imagination. - Hamilton & Weiss, Children Tell Stories, p.11.
If you don’t know the trees you may be lost in the forest, but if you don’t know the stories you may be lost in life. — Siberian Elder
Good stories, told well, can also build emotional resilience by helping a child make sense of life.
Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts. —Salman Rushdie
If you keep telling the same sad small story, you will keep living the same sad small life. —Jean Houston
Stories in many contexts
In the wider context, storytelling is currently enjoying a healthy resurgence worldwide. People are rediscovering the power of storytelling in education, business, therapies and the arts. The power of stories is currently being related in TED talks, discussed on blogs, twitter feeds and in universities storytelling courses.
To find video links, recording, article or books visit my extensive storytelling links and resources, on my resources page.
Thanks to Patti J. Christensen for some of the above story quotes.
About the Story Tree
The name came from an ancient fig tree which grows on my partner’s rainforested property inland from Bonalbo. This tree has the most magnificent buttress roots, tangled hair roots that hang down form the branches and mossy, mysterious alcoves. When our children were quite young, we came to refer it as “The Story Tree”.
We would walk through the forest to it, play under it and sometimes, sit to tell stories under it. But strangely, for me at least, stories rarely came when we sat under the tree. The tree evoked mystery, wonder and silence. Stillness and silence. Sometimes ideas would well up days later. When I came to set up my own company, my partner Max suggested the name ‘Story Tree’. Feeling indecisive, I asked the people on my email list to vote for their favourite of name from three choices. The Story Tree Company won which was lucky, because by the time the vote came back I was completely-down- to-my-roots in love with the name Story Tree!
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