The Magic of Stories and Storytelling

Stories and storytelling are part of what makes us human and we’ve been sharing them for thousands of years. We are hard wired to listen and tell them.

Stories come in different forms, from cave paintings, Aesops Fables, traditional fairytales and nursery rhymes, poetry, theatre plays, ballets and podcasts.

Simply put, we have an innate love of them.

Stories with my Granny

I’ve always loved stories. As a young child, some of the fondest memories I have of my Granny was her telling me stories.

We called them ‘Little Freddie Stories’ as they involved the antics of her older brother, Freddie, when he was a little boy.

One story involved Freddie hiding one of his dolls in a teapot. My great grandmother, not seeing Freddie’s doll inside, continued to make a pot of tea.

Once the tea had brewed, she poured it into the cups laid out on the table and the family began to drink. Oh dear, they soon discovered, but could not understand why, the tea tasted very strange!

Another Freddie tale involved letting all the hens out of the hen house and the family’s mad dash to get them all back in again before nightfall.

They were simple stories which I enjoyed hearing over and over again. The magic remained each time I heard them. I remember filling in the gaps with my own details.

The teapot was a large and old fashioned. There was a blue gingham tablecloth on the table and I could see the expressions on my great grandparents’ faces as they drank the bitter tea!

I never met my great grandparents but I felt I knew them through these stories.

Image comprises two photographs. Hens in a field on the left and an old fashioned metal kettle on a table top on the right.

Stories & Storytelling are immersive experiences

When I was older, I remember reading one of the Famous Five stories by Enid Blyton.

The children had stopped for a picnic, no doubt en route to one of their exciting adventures!

I still clearly remember the description of the food they had with them. It sounded so mouth watering and as I felt so connected with story, I found myself tiptoeing downstairs to make myself some sandwiches to enjoy with them, whilst reading.

This feeling of connection and immersion is one of the truly wonderful things about stories and storytelling, isn’t it? We find ourselves experiencing different people, times and places.

Magic, Ideas & Life Lessons

Stories serve many purposes in our lives.

They create magic, a sense of wonder and escapism, as well as helping us make sense of the world, teaching us life lessons, enabling us to learn about ourselves and share ideas with each other.

It’s also why I feel so strongly about the importance of imaginative play, which I believe is an extension of storytelling.

2 girls, one wearing a black and white cat costume and the other wearing a yellow dress, are sitting on a wooden boat in a school playground.

The Benefits of Stories & Storytelling

Let’s have a look at what amazing skills we aquire through telling, listening to and creating our own stories.

Communication Skills:

Language Development

Storytelling is a wonderful way of encouraging language development. It allows children to practise their speech, both in terms of reciting a story or telling their own story.

Vocabulary

Stories build vocabulary.

Children pick up new words through hearing stories and this broadening of vocabulary gives them the confidence to express themselves more clearly and to communicate thoughts, ideas and feelings.

Listening             

Being a good listener is one of the most important skills in life.

It doesn’t matter how young or old we are, we need listening skills not only for receiving information but also to communicate effectively with those around us.

When we are little, our attention spans are short and our ability to focus is small.

Stories are one of the best ways of engaging our attention and through this, improving our concentration.   

Stories and Storytelling sparks Curiosity, Imagination & Creativity

Stories are one of the best ways of sparking our curiosity and imaginations.

Whilst listening to a story, we become actively involved in imagining the plot, setting and characters.

Just like I did as a child listening to my Granny, by painting pictures in my head and filling in the gaps. I imagined the kitchen setting, the tea pot, the tablecloth and my great grandparents faces as they tasted the tea. And I  imagined what the tea itself tasted like.

The storyteller and the listener both play their part in creating their version of the story and each version will be unique.

Storytelling also gives us an opportunity to create a world of make believe and let our imaginations run completely wild.

It nurtures the creative spirit within us all. Anything can happen which encourages us to play around with ideas without fear of being right or wrong.

Woodland scene at night with a magical light effect.

Social & Emotional Skills

Learning to listen helps us in social situations because it teaches us to be patient whilst others are speaking.

We learn how to take turns and listen carefully to what others are saying. When we share stories with each other, we make connections and build relationships.

Stories deal with emotions and they can help children understand their own feelings, through the story characters but in a safe way by providing distance.

This is also one reason why animal characters play an important role in stories, particularly in terms of dealing with difficult topics, such as bereavement.

I’ve written blog on Animals in Children’s Books and there’s a section called ‘Emotional Distance and Difficult Themese which explores this further.

Stories and Storytelling helps build Empathy

Stories help us understand more about ourselves and others.

Through story characters, we learn to place ourselves in their shoes and experience what they are feeling, thus developing a sense of empathy.

Stories also help us understand how humans work and we learn that people react differently from one another in different situations and have different thoughts and ideas from our own.

Stories enable us to create, imagine, communicate, listen, remember and process emotions.

In short, we all need and benefit from having stories in our lives!

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You’ll receive a new activity pack at the beginning of each month with a fairytale theme!

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