Helpful Suggestions For Telling Stories to Children
by Laura Simms
Listening to a story is a dynamic process that delights children while allowing them to imagine themselves in a variety of situations. Stories are nondidactic teaching tools. A story heard is not an explanation, but an experience that is enduring and enriching. Each child personally integrates the story, embodying the characters and experiencing the events. Although many of these stories contain challenging incidents, they also have genuine magic. Their references to death and difficulties connect with real life events, while avoiding the potential misunderstandings which might arise from stories that are too literal. These stories are about basic truth and living in the world as it is. Remember that stories are refreshing for the storyteller as well as the listeners. Storytelling is a shared activity, which increases intimacy and inner enjoyment no matter what the outer circumstances are. Because genuine listening takes place during storytelling, children may be able to find the environment necessary to voice their own fears and concerns.
--Please read these stories over to yourself once or twice before reading them or retelling them to your children so they can sense that you know the end of the story. This is an important way of ensuring that the children will experience trust and safety while hearing the story.
--Speak naturally and directly. The best storyteller is not a performer but simply the person speaking. A special voice is less potent than your natural voice.
--Try not to take the perspective of a single character. Be the storyteller, the one who lets the whole story be heard, imagined and felt by the listener.
--Try not to speak down to a child while reading. Let the meaning and feelings of the story enter you as well. Go on the journey with your child.
--Allow children to share the images that come up for them after listening to a story. A child's personal associations and ideas help generate an awareness that everybody hears a story based on who he or she is. This is the basis of peace.
--Try not to make a moral, judgment, or conclusion from the story. The point is to keep children's imaginations functioning. Stories provide a gymnasium for the heart and mind in which empathy, creativity and clarity can be strengthened.
These tales are offered in the spirit of sharing. They are not intended to take the place of therapeutic methods for dealing with grief, mourning, shock and loss. We dedicate the joy and goodness that arises from heartfelt communication to all those in the world who are in need of peace and comfort at this time.