The Dying Art of Storytelling.

Terry Tempest Williams said “Storytelling is the oldest form of education.” Well, for those who were born in the 40’s, 50’s to the 80’s and even during the pre-colonial era, had the opportunity to listen to parents, grandparents and elders tell them stories about famous legends and folktales. It was a means of passing down traditions and teaching morals. It was a way to relax from a stressful day and also a way communities and families bonded.

What does this have to do with reading? Shockingly, a lot! Storytelling is telling a story without the help of printed pages. However, with the development of books, people can actually read aloud from the book and imitate the actions and voices of characters therefore making the story more engaging. Storytelling is a unique way of stimulating the child’s imagination and that is key to training a child to be a good reader.

In reading, imagination is key to aiding understanding. When a child is listening to a story, he builds up the story in his mind following closely every word, sound and action. The child knows that if he misses out by not focusing on the story, he might miss a vital part of the story; therefore, causing him to struggle to fill in the gap. The need for this art to be revived cannot be overemphasised. Developing a strong listener is key to developing a strong reader. Click To Tweet Storytelling helps the child focus and pay attention to details which if carried into reading, the child will grow in leaps and bounds intellectually.

Furthermore, storytelling wets the appetite of the child to go in search of more stories. Where of course will he get the stories to feed that growing appetite? Your guess is as good as mine. BOOKS! Reading more stimulates the brain more.

Storytelling is a good way to bond with the kids. Storytelling also helps the child understand change of events and feel the emotions that go with it. A child can understand various emotions and it can be a good way to bring the child to understand that life is never static and always changes. There are so many vital lessons that children can learn when stories are told to them.

My concern is that the art of storytelling is dying. This is of course for a myriad of reasons. One of which, no teacher/tutor/parent seems to have the “time”. Another is that many reading tutors do not know how to tell a story. It is an art but it can be learnt. Slow and steady but consistently the art can be learned. First, the teacher has to put himself or herself in the place of the character. Laugh when the character laughs, cry if the character cries etc.

Voice range and pitch is key also. The teacher must learn to use her voice productively. Try practicing constantly with your voice. Drink lots of water but more importantly it comes with practice. I know you might say that our grandparents never had to try too hard, but I am sure they did not automatically become great storytellers in one day. With constant practice, you can be a great storyteller and you can awaken a deep desire in the children you work with to be great listeners and readers.


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