As a child, listening to stories gave us a soothing feeling of comfort, helped us gain wisdom, provided us with a sense of security and enabled us to enjoy the proximity of our loved ones – generally parents or grandparents.
Many of us grew up with the magical mysticism of stories and fables. The enchantment, beauty, love, conflict and the emphasis of the good and and the not so good that we had heard with rapturous attention brings back fond memories. Memories that continue to make us smile long after we stopped hearing these stories.
I remember the magical stories that we used to be told by our parents. Stories about a wise and valiant King Henry were the most loved among the lot.
He was King who would journey through his land on his bold steed taking care of his people.
Through the journey he would encounter people, animals that could talk, magical beings – beautiful ones and scary beings as well…each teaching him something while he always made peace and resolved any challenge that came his way.
Through all this, he never lost his goal of keeping his people and country happy.
Time and time again, through the process of hearing the stories of this King (the stories were never repeated and each one was unique), I enjoyed a sense of comfort, along with the love for creativity, imaginary and abstract thinking.
Indeed, telling a child a story or reading from a story book equips a child in many ways to face life and the future.
Fairy tales or stories are a reflection of the universal concern for humanity. While stories like “Little Red Riding Hood” could be a child’s nightmare with the murderous wolf who gobbled up grandma, there is also gleeful delight that the child experiences when the violence concludes with the satisfying and befitting punishment to the villain.
The quality of innocence is evident in the description of many of these stories and so is the “happily ever after” conclusion. The message from a fairy tale as we know is rarely ambiguous.
The role of the villain, aids in a healthy displacement of a child’s anger against restrictions or suffocation from authority. The importance of the virtue of goodness is also signified through emergence of the hero or heroine’s eventual victory over villainy and tyranny.
The child’s basic knowledge about fairy tales is also giving them an understanding of the dynamism of change in our life and the positive impact of our actions. The belief in “hope” is also triggered by these stories of courage, magic and drama. Cinderella’s happy life after her sorrowful years gives the child a probable belief that “yes, we can have a better tomorrow”.
The story of “Hansel & Gretel” is a fine example where a story conveys the importance of sibling responsibility amidst the children’s horrifying interaction with the witch. The sister and brother indeed were there for each other through out their ordeal.
Stories can also convey the harsh reality that life may not always be fair, like in the story of “The Little Mermaid”. Through little mermaid’s poignant loss, the child is awoken to this reality. A reality that the child comes to know through the joyous experience of hearing a story.
Some stories may enthrall your child for countless times, because of their humour and the antics of the characters. Despite the risk of you experiencing boredom, read on!
Repeating the child’s favourite story helps in brain development.
Story telling enhances your child’s language skills, listening skills, reading skills, narrating skills, writing skills, develops curiosity, imagination and creativity, whilst also enabling the child to develop patience. Patience is reluctantly learnt by the listener as they wait to hear the end of the story!
I remember one story that was popular with my children. It was about a shrewd and chubby little red hen and a sly but foolish fox. As most of you can imagine, the fox’s sole purpose of existence was to capture the red hen for a meal but his plan is foiled each time when he captures his “meal” only to watch helplessly the little red hen escape.
The moral of the story was simple – how to manage our life effectively amidst sudden threats and danger. That story writer’s ability was undoubtedly the delightful manner the capable and cunning hen’s escapades were described along with charming illustrations. The reflection of little red hen’s confidence in tackling the fox was not the only point of reflection but so was her positive attitude of resilience and serenity in the face of a threat.
Stories can inspire us to tackle many anxieties and challenges in our journey through life creatively yet practically.
For adults, story telling helps them stay connected to their childhood years.
You need not read fairy tales if you have the imagination to make them up, weave enchanting and entertaining story after story for your child.
It is also a subtle awakening of the writer within and who knows, before you know it, you may be opening your treasure trove of stories for other parents to read to their little ones.
Let your child enjoy the pleasure of harmoniously and playfully communicating with you through the colorful magical characters you bring to life. Your stories would teach your child life’s simple lessons – courage, goodness, simplicity, determination, morals, humility, be self motivated and so on.
Amidst your quest of bringing the story to life, a suitable setting for your story telling will help too. Imagine telling a story of a child playing in a magical garden to your child while you both enjoy sitting on the grass on a sunny day in the park. It would indeed be difficult to find a more appropriate setting for your story telling.
As Robert Mckee once said,
“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today”