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Connecting Through Storytelling

We’re over halfway through National Storytelling Week and I’m just now getting wind of it! Well, that’s a bit discouraging. Then I realize that this is an event in the UK, not the USA. Perhaps I would be better informed if this happened in our backyard - at least I'd like to think so.

The Society for Storytelling puts on National Storytelling Week or NSW. Their aim is to support and promote storytelling in the UK. They recognize that oral storytelling is one of the most ancient art forms, and continues to this day as a vibrant part of culture throughout the world. I certainly agree with that sentiment!

Here’s a note from the Society of Storytelling website:

“Stories are one of the greatest gifts a parent or grandparent can give to their child. Reading to your child is a great way of spending quality time together but there is always the book between you and them. When you tell stories there is much greater opportunity for your child to contribute to the story, it also gives you the freedom to tailor the story to suit your child or tell stories that have never been written down.

Traditionally stories have been used to teach children important lessons for life, the importance of kindness, courage in adversity and that no matter how bad things get there is always hope for the future. True stories about family members can draw children and adults, into a deeper understanding of their family. The stories you remember from your childhood can be shared and enjoyed again with your children.”

My grandparents were both wonderful storytellers. My grandfather’s favorite story to tell (and our favorite to hear) was The Three Billy Goats Gruff. The troll under the bridge became a true monster by my grandfather’s description. My sister and I would get scared as an excuse to cuddle tighter to my grandfather. The story is a relatively short tale and yet extended for minute upon minute as my grandfather added extra bits of detail. The story was precious. The time spent with my grandfather – priceless.

A recent Remembered Well client described how she told stories to her grandchildren. It was one of her favorite memories and likely one of theirs. She made up all kinds of crazy gems and kept her grandkids enthralled. This was their special time and she recalls it quite fondly. She and the grandkids cuddled up, listening, laughing, and building precious bonds that will always be there.

We all know that it’s important to read to children. We hear this often. However, don’t be afraid to go off script, to create an amazing new world for you and your kids/grandkids to enjoy. You can take an existing story like Cinderella and make it your own signature tale or you can borrow stories from your own life. This is what my grandmother mostly did and we cherished those stories as well. I remember fondly her stories of growing up on a farm and milking cows. We would beg her to tell the story over and over again of when she and her brother caused the cow to kick over the bucket as her sister began milking. The slyness of the siblings, the vividness of the barn, it’s all so clear.

Both of my grandparents were wonder storytellers and you can be as well. Just start by telling your story. Tell it as a way of connecting with your family. As the Society for Storytelling notes, “true stories about family members can draw children and adults, into a deeper understanding of their family.”