By Cheri Fuller
Storytelling is an act of devotion that sends children a clear message: I care so much for you that I want to give you the most precious gift I have-my time. During those moments together, nothing but the story matters.
-from The Mom You're Meant to Be: Loving Your Kids While Leaning on God
"Nandy, tell me a story about Mr. Squeeks," says Caitlin, my granddaughter as we lay on the queen size bed in our guest room. I'd already gotten her a drink of water (twice) and she'd gone to the bathroom (again) and wiggled and giggled and it was way past 9:00 p.m. when her parents said she had to be asleep.
So with the lights dim, I begin to spin a story about her imaginary mouse friend Mr. Squeeks going to the park with Caitlin and the whole family. I'm not as skilled a storyteller as Aesop, but Caitlin, just like most kids, is forgiving about my lapses in plot and never tires of hearing a story! Within a few minutes, my energetic preschooler began to relax and was fast asleep.
What's your favorite childhood story-Cinderella, The Three Bears, Thumbelina or a Bible story like Daniel in the Lion's Den? Get a children's book and practice it; then surprise your child by telling it some night when the lights are out.
Storytelling does a lot of great things for almost no cost: it brings closer bonding between kids and parents and relieves stress at the end of the day. It can take place anywhere: you can tell stories in the car on trips or errands, around a campfire or dinner table, or at family reunions. It build a sense of belonging and heritage, especially when you tell family tales about grandma, grandpa, and other relatives. Storytelling ignites kids' imaginations, boosts language skills, and most important, offers the sheer fun and delight of a well-told story.
But I'm not a natural storyteller, you may be thinking. Neither was I.
Autumn/Winter is a great time to tell stories and here are some suggestions to get you started:
a.. Tell personal anecdotes. Your kids will love hearing about their parents were young: tales of your most memorable Christmas, mischief you got into, what and who you played with, your first black eye or stitches, first date, and how you met each other.
b.. Get family members to share a story at holidays when you gather. Look at old photo albums and ask questions like-What was going on in the world when you were a kid? What was life like for you? Who was President? What songs or movies were popular? Who were your best friends? This will prime the pump of storytelling.
c.. Put your child into the story. For example, my brother George always told his boys "Cowboy Bob" stories, and he'd say, "Cowboy Bob was riding by the ranch and saw Jonathan and Zack. He asked them to go fishing with him and they caught the world's biggest fish!" Kids love being included as one of the characters of the story.
If you give the gift of storytelling to your children, you may find they become storytellers themselves, passing on the legacy of family history to the next generation.
Copyrightę 2003 Cheri Fuller, adapted from The Mom You're Meant to Be: Loving Your Kids While Leaning on God (Focus on the Family/Tyndale).
(Use only with permission of author.)
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