Stories All Around You: Promoting Kids Storytelling
When I was around 6, I had speech therapy to help with a stutter. Distracted one day, the therapist (who also happened to be my aunt) asked where my brain was. An ever creative student, I invented a story of my brain's adventures in Africa. I can't remember the details, but oh, was it exciting. That was my first story.
For many children, their first story is similar. Something they made up to explain a mistake, create a joke, or just to be silly. They probably would not even call it a story. But all children are like me-full of a vivid imagination just waiting to be harnessed and brought out into the world.
Storytelling is a great way to promote literacy in your children. Through it, they learn sequencing, experiment with vocabulary, and feel the power of their words. Additionally, reluctant readers adore rereading their own stories which can begin a positive relationship with books. Inspire your children to start story telling with these simple ideas.
While they are still infants, create stories about them and you. Start retelling everyday events (this will also help develop recall which they need when they start reading). Cuddle down before bed and retell your day as a bedtime story. Feel free to embellished it and make it an adventure.
As they get older (early toddlers) and you are comfortable, branch out into fantasy- the dragon hiding in the grocery store, the trolls you need to escape from on a hike, the friendly giant in the library. These stories are a form of pretending with your child and you can invite them to tell what happens next.
Another way to explore to storytelling is to simply retell favorite stories or fairy tales, but with you and your child as the characters. Young children often begin storytelling with retelling their favorite stories. Staple pieces of paper together and have your child illustrate each page. Once they are done you can let them dictate the story. As in this the two above examples, they may not want to illustrate every page which is fine and the stories may not yet follow a sequence or represent actual objects. That will develop as they get older.
As children advance in their storytelling, they will begin to make up their own unique stories (see story on left). Before they are able to write simply take the dictation (although will have to write fast) so we can reread it to them. If they want you can turn into a book later.
Here are a couple ideas for books about storytelling or writing:
Rufus the Writer by Elizabeth Bram and Chuck Groenink inspires children to start telling stories, as being able to illustrate them. Rufus sets up a storytelling booth and trades items for each of his stories. Create your own storytelling booth as a follow-up from this book to see what stories about your family and friends your child imagines.
Ralph struggles to find a story to write about when his teachers assigns to tell a personal story in Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon. He asks a friend who says she has lots of stories about him, but he still cannot think of one thing. Finally, while up in front of the class he remembers and tells about his adventure with an inchworm. Help children distinguish between read and pretend stories with this book, as well as to understand they always have something to tell.
As always, I hope you enjoyed this blog and look forward to your recommendations of books about storytelling, as well as ideas for activities around storytelling. It would be marvelous to see your children's stories!
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