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The importance of storytelling

folktales for children storytelling

Do you read to the children in your care? I’m sure you do! There are wonderful and diverse books available for children that we can incorporate into our day to day curriculum. Stories add an element of imagination, fun and language to children’s learning and story time is a pleasant, quiet way to unwind.You can incorporate props into your story telling to bring your tales to life and always try to involve the children if possible – with hand gestures, noises and role play.

There is another, often overlooked, method of story telling which moves away from books and that is Folk Tales. Folk Tales are a wonderful way to pass on traditions and keep culture alive. Folk Tales often have a moral and are full of repetition and funny characters. They are short enough to hold children’s attention and for little ones the addition of some small props help to really bring the story to life – particularly as children are so used to seeing stories through pictures and on television.

What we need to do sometimes, in order to develop imagination, is get away from the ready made visual images provided all too often by the media.

Children themselves have an innate ability to create stories and narratives to help them cope with and understand the world around them – “Pretend I’m the lady and you are cross!”

Story telling is the oldest form of teaching. Story telling makes class lessons for all ages more powerful, it motivates children to listen and to remember. When you give children story time you give them a gift they will carry with them forever.

Eye contact and interaction are vital when telling stories – you can see children’s reactions, they can engage with you and watch your facial expressions convey the details of the story.

One of the most wonderful aspects of Folk Tales is that they are usually told directly – without a book. This causes a level of concern for some people – we are so used to having the safety of the book to refer to but as you get used to really telling stories you can see the benefit of the increased interaction between the story teller and those listening.

The story might differ slightly between you and someone else or between one telling and another but that is ok, it is a shared experience with intimacy and belonging. You can watch your audience of children and increase the excitement or downplay the scary part depending on their reactions.

Children will absorb stories and make their own in retelling – this builds creativity and thought process. Folk Tales aren’t rigid in their structure or details which is why the same story can be different the world over – we make them our own.

Remember the scientist Albert Einstein said, “imagination is more powerful than knowledge”

Imagination is powerful and vital – it is an element of education that is often overlooked and dismissed yet without it there are no new discoveries, no creativity, no new thinking and no progress. Story telling is one of the most important tools for unleashing imagination!

The World Cultures and Festival Book for Children is packed full of wonderful Folk Tales which children will love. They provide a starting point for discussions about morals, emotions, behaviour and other cultures.

Stories are magical and fascinating and provide a new way of looking at our world.


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