Updated: Nov 12, 2021
We've got something new and very exciting coming this May. A new and FREE children's storytelling club, Imagine It! Now, before I get into how it works, I think the why it works is just as important.
Storytelling comes in many forms and is most effective when every medium is explored and expressed, but there's no doubt about it, storytelling is an incredibly valuable activity for our children.
As children grow and learn about the world around them, they do so from a unique and ever-changing perspective. Childhood is pure magic and storytelling is a great way to nourish and encourage it. How exactly? Glad you asked.
Firstly, there's the reading element. Studies show that those with good literacy skills are not only more likely to be in regular employment, they are also more likely to have improved health and even more stable relationships. There are lots of other things that overlap with this data, and it's certainly not as black and white as it first appears, but there's more...
Dig into the finer detail of this and you'll see that reading children's books to/with our children, exposes them to new places, people and situations. It transports them to lands far away and nearby. It gives them a child-friendly and age-appropriate awareness of the new and it expands and affirms their knowledge and experiences of the familiar.
Reading to and with our children also means they can match written and spoken word - this is a wonderfully effective way for young children to learn to read and write, and for older children to expand their vocabulary and improve spelling. If they are reading picture books, these can also help "show and tell" the story and aid interpretation. Learning to read is just like a puzzle. Some children need bigger or more pieces to help them put it together and others only need a few big pieces and they have it cracked. There's no right or wrong way and it is different for every child.
The act of reading aloud to children also exposes them to the subtleties and complexity of intonation - that's the rise, fall and pattern of the voice in speech. This not only makes for more confident readers but it'll also improve your child's flow and fluency AND combat robot-reading!
As well as Intonation, the other important 'I' word associated with storytelling is Inference. Inference is a conclusion that is reached based on evidence and reading - it's decoding what a child is being presented with and responding to that. Of course, young ones probably won't know what you're talking about if you ask them 'what do you think is being inferred by that line?' but say something like 'why do you think they did that?' and you'll be amazed at how much your child has to say about something. This gives you the chance to offer alternative interpretations, not to mention listen to the unique ways that they have understood things.
Besides reading, there are so many other ways for our children to practice storytelling and that's exactly why I love it so much as a resource for child development and mental health.
Storytelling can be done by means of writing and drawing (obviously I'm a big fan of these methods in particular) but it can also be done through acting, dancing, singing and playing a musical instrument. Improvisation is also brilliant - with or without story prompts - and a fun group activity. Any means of creative expression that allows a child to move from nothing, through something (ideally by imagining both a problem and then a solution) and then to a conclusion - that's storytelling. The skills proven to be cultivated in the practice of doing this, include problem-solving, empathy, resilience, confidence, creativity and - wait for it - imagination. In short, storytelling builds and promotes original thought and open-mindedness.
Have you ever caught your child pretending to be a YouTuber? Maybe recording themselves on your phone or a tablet, perhaps not even bothering to record themselves and just monologuing with a faux American accent. That's storytelling. Cringe as it is, it's them finding a new way to partake in an age-old pastime that has proved critical to human evolution! They are simply imitating their favourite method of storytelling, developing the character, setting and situation and creating their own.
Back to the mental health benefits of storytelling. Studies have shown that storytelling can greatly improve a person's emotional literacy. This is a fancy term given to knowing and better understanding emotions and emotional responses - both in ourselves and others. It's having a feeling or experiencing another person's reaction to their own feelings, and showing a willingness to explore and better understand and respond to it. This is massive and, for me, it's the greatest benefit of storytelling.
None of this is especially surprising or ground-breaking and, when you think about it, it all makes a lot of sense. Reading and listening to the stories of others, and learning to create their own, is a developmental journey in itself.
I used to run a local children's storytelling club but it was closed due to Covid. I'm thrilled that I can now resume and grow this valuable activity under the Picture-This Books umbrella.
Starting May 1st 2021 - Imagine It - our FREE quarterly storytelling club will be open to all...
We are thrilled to announce that our new and FREE quarterly storytelling club starts next month and will be delivered (print-ready) via email, direct to the inbox of all those who have subscribed to our emails. To do this, go to our homepage, scroll to the bottom and enter your name and email address. It's that easy. If you're already signed up, you don't need to do anything at all.
Imagine It, by Picture-This Books, will include a range of activities for children aged 4-10 years - with plenty for pre-schoolers to 'help' with too!
With a new theme every quarter, our Imagine It storytelling pack will include:
* A fun AND feasible craft activity (promise)
* A story starter for children to develop
* Handy how-to tips
* Story-starter text for children to illustrate
* Word of the quarter (and how to use it)
* 'Imagine Them' mini-profiles of famous faces and historical someone's
* A new & inspiring affirmation
* Children's book recommendations
Everything in Imagine It will embody all things Picture-This Books. We stand for creativity, imagination, self-expression, mindful play, kindness and an appreciation of the natural world.
We celebrate diversity and hold space for today's storytellers and tomorrow's changemakers.