Storytimes are magical. Be they bedtime stories or stories at playtime, they tell of adventures in different realms and are woven with lessons in bravery, teamwork, love and friendship. Stories stimulate the imagination and have the power to inform and educate; and kids know a good story when they hear one.
Storytelling immortalises tales as old as time and teaches all of us, generations after generations, timeless lessons that are still relevant today. We may not recall who told us what yesterday, but we definitely remember the earnest tortoise which believed in itself racing against an over-confident hare. It has been ingrained in us that self-belief and perseverance will win us the race.
Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are all modern day storytellers with a treasure trove of materials at their disposal. There are the old school stuff made up of traditional folklores, Aesop’s fables and Grimms’ fairytales; and there are the endless new-ish ones of singing animals, transforming robots, superheroes and Disney stories.
What these amazing tales have in common is that they teach positive values by inspiring its young listeners. With a mixture of colourful characters in daring situations, life’s complexities are filtered into simple illustrations of good versus evil, right versus wrong, black versus white. Stories wrap moral values into something kids find compelling and relatable, and not merely a series of boring dos-and-don’ts instructions.
Kids connect with a purple pony or a sly little kancil because these fictional characters show actions and consequences in ways far more fun than any grownup could muster. When something is fun, it usually is memorable so children remember these cautionary tales. Adults are always talking down to them, but Twilight Sparkle talks to them.
So no surprise there that storytelling succeeds where serious adult talk falters. Nag a child to behave and they turn a deaf ear; but tell the child that Captain America would never do that, and they are all ears.
For the real magic in storytelling to happen, however, there needs to be a committed storyteller. Storytellers who make the effort to bring storybook pages to life are the ultimate heroes in this learning process.
Through the voices of mommy or daddy, grandma or uncle, enthusiastic listeners are kept entertained again and again with booming voices for thunder and squeaks for fear. Storytime is quality bonding time which allows you to understand what matters most to your children so that in turn, you can teach them the virtues that matter most in the real world.
What we hear once upon a time sticks to us so tell your children a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious story today.