Saturday, March 27, 2010

The importance of storytelling.

Storytelling is as old as time itself. Before the written word there was the spoken word. Every culture in history have their legends, and passed those legends down through the generations via storytelling. Some people say it was the birth of religion.

Storytelling is not only the oldest form of art, but it is one of the most valuable. Telling stories to children helps not only to bond with kids, but it helps them to develop their imagination. It also helps to develop performance skills, verbal communication abilities and can improve vocabulary. It is said that some of the best writers are first and foremost storytellers. 
It is also a great way to learn about your heritage and regain a knowledge about your culture. As I mentioned before every culture in the world has a story to tell, and legends they have passed down. Taking a trip to your local library or taking a surf on the internet you will be able to find many tales of folklore from your cultural ancestors. I personally have ancestors from many countries, but primarily from Ireland with a smattering of Native American (Cherokee). Researching the legends of my ancestors not only helped me to gain a sense of understanding of the cultures itself but helped me to find a little piece of myself. 

Looking into the legends of the past also helps you to get a feel for your own storytelling. If you have no idea where to start when it comes to storytelling, this would be a great place to start, and a great way to bond with your children. 

So you want to get into storytelling but have no idea where to start? It is really consisting of 2 parts: Public Speaking/ Reading and Imagination. It can be difficult for people who aren't accustomed to telling a story in this fashion. But storytelling, like most creative things, is like a muscle; it needs to be worked and exercised. Your local library or book store may have storytelling time for children. If not, suggest one! There are also storytelling clubs in a lot of areas, and if you can't find one, again why not start one!

The hardest part of storytelling is losing the wall we all have to be proper and lose that performance inhibition. To be silly and childlike is socially frowned upon so we tend to avoid it. Public Speaking is one of the biggest fears we have, so getting over that is difficult.

A few things can help. The first is working with familiar children, and reading books and stories to them is a key and important way to familiarize yourself. I know with me personally I tend to allow myself to be silly when I am around kids. Talking nonsense back and forth and engaging with them is a good for unblocking my creative side. Reading your favorite books out loud to kid also helps. It allows you to get ideas, to set tone and work on speaking in public and learn to create different character voices. Not to mention, reading to children out loud gets them interested in books and improves literacy.

Another thing is recalling a story from your past and retell it. It could be anything from a vacation experience to a trip to the super market. This helps to develop the timing of a story, as well as Starts working the memory and the creative muscle. Throw in an embellishment here or there and see where it takes you. 

For me, keeping a notebook is one of the most important things I can do. I will say it over and over again. You never know when inspiration is going to hit, so having something to jot an idea or two down to revisit later is such a great tool.

Great websites for storytelling Resources can be found HERE and HERE. If you have tips, resources or storytelling ideas, please share them in the comments (either here or on the Facebook Page)

Many Thanks to my storytelling buddy Alastair for helping me out with some of the resources and inspiring this entry..:) 

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful week and remember to always keep wishing and keep dreaming!