The topic of ABC and 123 Summer Picnic this week is Storytelling. When I saw the subject, my first thought was, What exactly is storytelling? Of course, the name speaks for itself – we tell stories. But to me true storytelling includes a few important components:
The story is told, not read and most positively not watched on TV. TV is a wonderful thing (sometimes), but when i think of storytelling, I rather think of sitting by campfire, not sitting in front of TV lapping up the visuals already constructed for you by someone else.
- The story has structure and rhythm to it – beginning, middle and end. A lot of good stories in my native language are poems.
- The story should help the listener to visualize the world or the situation.
- Ideally, the story is an original product of storyteller’s mind.
- I used to be a good storyteller. Never original, but I read enough books to be able to pull a story together. It was my “specialty” in summer camps – telling stories to other girls when we were supposed to be sleeping. However, I didn’t exercise this ability for many-many years. I went to study engineering, I didn’t have friends who were into fantasy and storytelling, and… we lose what we don’t use. I continued to read a lot of fiction, but I never had a need to retell it to anyone… until now. My daughter loves listening to stories, but I admit that I usually take an easy way out of reading them to her. We read all kinds of things – fairy tales, animal stories, poems, fact-based books. Sometimes I retell her the books when we are waiting or in the car, but she is rarely satisfied with my oral delivery. Lately she started to get an idea of the storytelling and started to say, Tell me the story about the night I was born (we read the book with this name) or Tell me the story when you were a baby. That’s where I truly stumble – I find it hard to put together an original story on the fly that wouldn’t be just a dry retelling of factual events. Normally I think in English, but I noticed that when I am trying to produce a story on the fly, I shift back to my native Russian and translate back, which makes it even more awkward. My husband suggested that I should start writing stories to get back into storytelling groove, and maybe he is right. The problem is that I need time and desire for such an enterprise, and at this point I have neither.
- Anna talks to herself all the time. It’s fun to listen in to her conversation with her favorite kitty over the baby monitor when she is supposed to be sleeping. She tells him pretty elaborate stories, where facts of the day are mixed with the books that she read and cartoons she watched. It’s fun to see her imagination unfold and maybe if we continue to encourage her, she will be the one telling and writing good stories in our family. I can’t wait to read other entries in the Picnic and see what others are doing to encourage storytelling in their homes.