Grandma's books - the magic of storytelling

The magic of storytelling

Guiding parents in play sessions for parents and children.

Telling stories to and with young children has many benefits. Including other things, it helps to develop:

  • relationships with the storyteller and other listeners
  • language – vocabulary, language structure, imagery
  • understanding of narrative structure as it applies to fiction and non-fiction accounts
  • curiosity about one’s family, the immediate environment, and other places
  • empathy for others
  • interest in books and reading
  • imagination

There is something very special about telling, as opposed to reading, stories. The telling can be more fluid, more interactive, and change with the mood and with input from teller and listener. The distinction between teller and listener can blur and roles can change as the story flows.

Sometimes it is the routine and the relationships that are more important and more memorable than any one story. For example, a parent telling stories as part of the bedtime ritual, stories told by a visiting grandparent, aunt or uncle, or even stories told in the classroom. Jennie Fitzkee often tells us about the magic effect of her storytelling sessions in her preschool classroom on her blog A Teacher’s Reflections.

What were the dinosaurs like?

Story telling doesn’t require any special talents, or even an especially exciting story. When my daughter was young she would often ask for a story about my childhood. (She loved hearing about the dinosaurs!) Stories such as these can occur at any time during the day, though storytelling times may need to be scheduled in a school day. A special treat for me as a young child was when, after dinner, Dad would sing us the story song asking, “Who made Little Boy Blue?”

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes boots. Whose boots are they, where do they go and what is their significance? Go where the prompt leads.

I immediately thought of a Grandmother, a storytelling expert, whose boots signified when a magical storytelling session was about to begin. I hope you like where the story leads. In fact, it can lead wherever you wish–

Grandma’s boots

Jess peered out, waiting, hoping, to glimpse Grandma arrive. Rainbow stars exploded outside her window just as the doorbell chimed–missed it again. Disappointment faded as she flung herself into Grandma’s enveloping arms. Grandma’s soft kisses promised secrets through scents of far-off places and unfamiliar things. Grandma’s boots sparkled, announcing story time. Jess and Grandma snuggled into their special chair. Clasping hands, they whispered their story-time chant. The chair shuddered and lifted off the floor. The roof opened and, quick as a wink, Jess and Grandma were whooshing across the sky to somewhere, “Once upon a time and faraway…”

Thank you blog post

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

79 thoughts on “The magic of storytelling

  1. Hugh's Views and News

    Such a magical piece of flash-fiction, Norah. It took me back to asking my Grandmother to tell me stories, especially of her childhood. Even today, I still ask my last surviving aunt (who’s 91 this month) to get out the box containing hundreds of old photos and to tell me the stories behind each one. The hours can whizz pass.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Hugh. I’m pleased the story transported you back to your own storytelling sessions with your grandmother. It’s wonderful for both you and your aunt to have that opportunity to share stories. Sometimes we don’t appreciate the opportunities until they are no longer. Time certainly does whizz by.

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  2. reocochran

    This is such a special and mysterious ways to start your story about Jess and her Grandma’s boots. I like the signal they are about to take off into the worlds of books! Those sparkling boots. . . 🎆 🌈

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        1. Norah Post author

          Oh yes, I’ve been thinking about it after writing this story. I wish I had daintier feet. It would be easier to find a pair to fit! I definitely don’t have Cinderella feet. 🙂

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  3. Pingback: Walking Boots « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

  4. dgkaye

    I loved your story Norah. And I loved the preclude to the story about how engaging it is for kids to be told stories. You picked a perfect example choosing Jennie too. And must say, I love those boots! Just up my alley. I’d wear them in a heartbeat. 🙂 x

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you so much for your support, Debby. Wouldn’t it be great to have sparkly boots as a storyteller’s “uniform” (I’m not really into uniforms) but they’d kick the session off no trouble. 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Balroop. I hope you get those sparkly shoes. I’d love to see them. Actually you’ve given me an idea for when I do story sessions in classes I visit. I think I’ll have to get a pair too. I needed your response to kick my thinking that little bit further. So, thank you again. 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Robbie. I do plan on working on this story a little more – have already done so and intend to take it to my critique group next week to see what they think. Fingers crossed. 🙂

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  5. KC Redding-Gonzalez

    Without storytelling our future is little but a bunch of acronyms and abbreviations texted by thumb… We need stories — complete, magical, wondrous stories — to keep us firmly planted in the necessary conversations to be imagined and had within realm of humanity!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Wonderful comment! Thank you, KC. I love this: “Without storytelling our future is little but a bunch of acronyms and abbreviations texted by thumb”. I find it pretty difficult to tell a story on my phone. 🙂 Those conversations, shared stories, whether real or imagined, are so important.

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  6. Pingback: The Magic of Storytelling | Dayne Sislen Children's Book Illustration

    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Jennie. What a wonderfully generous gesture to reblog my post. I was thrilled to include you in it. You do so much to promote story time. Whether reading or telling, both are magical and the “sparks that fire the heart and the mind”.

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      1. Jennie

        It was my pleasure to reblog your post. I knew it was a reblog, long before I got to reading about me. And, thank you for your kind words. Yes, both reading and telling stories spark fires. Thank goodness!

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  7. Jennie

    Norah! As soon as I read the title I couldn’t wait to read your words. I swallowed them like stars. Then, there was my name. Thank you! We both know how important (and fun) storytelling is. Your grandma story is excellent. I love the shoes and the roof opening to who knows where. Wonderful!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Oh, Jennie, thank you for your comment. I love this image “I swallowed them like stars”. How magical! I’m savouring it. Yes, we do agree about storytelling, and most everything about educating our young ones. I’m pleased you enjoyed the story. I’m going to work on it a little more, hopefully as an introduction that can lead into storytelling sessions, a support for those who maybe have difficulty knowing where to start. 🙂

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      1. Jennie

        Thank you so much, Norah! Your words were true stars. Storytelling is the root of language and learning. Your story is definitely an introduction and support for those who need a start.

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  8. Annecdotist

    What a lovely start to Grandma’s story and lovely ending for your flash!
    So many benefits for the child in being told and/or read stories – I imagine there’d be a similar list for the benefits to the storytelling adult.

    Liked by 2 people

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  9. Charli Mills

    I’ve heard it said many times that humans are hard-wired for stories. It’s how we process and learn information. Marketers know this too, and ads often tell a story with an emotional hook. But I love your storyteller best! To every child, I think their favorite storyteller must indeed where magical boots.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Dayne. I’d be thrilled for you to reblog this post. It is a perfect match with your post about reading to children. Best wishes. N

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  10. Alexis Chateau

    Interestingly enough, it was storytelling that got me into novel writing. Up until about 5th grade, I mostly wrote short stories. But in 6th grade, my friends and I would gather around at lunch time and I would tell stories. In 7th grade, we went to different schools, so I went from telling stories to writing them. I finished my first full length novel at around 12 in 8th grade. Now…I definitely prefer reading and writing to telling stories haha.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences of storytelling, Alexis. What a great beginning to your career in writing. I think many of us look back on those early days of writing as being very special – treasured memories.

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  11. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    It had to be magical, to capture the magic of any story; and you capture the magic of the child. Put your boots on, Norah, cross that midline and head north. We have stories about stories and other stories to tell one another. Too many for now, but yes, they are a powerful thing, stories. (We could both look to our lands’ native people for validation on the power of story.)

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    1. Norah Post author

      There are sooooo many stories. Funny you say about them being powerful. My first title was the importance of storytelling, changed to the power of ST, changed to magic. Any one works for me. Yes, the storytelling traditions of our nations’ First Peoples are something to marvel at.

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  12. thecontentedcrafter

    I love the magic in your story Norah – you opened up that door that invites us all in to wonder, to ponder, to take part. I hope you can inspire other teachers and young parents to take that step and tell stories too – it is so different when as a story teller you can look at your listeners, respond to them, see their eyes and observe their responses. Especially little children who are so into the story – they laugh, they fall off their chairs with excitement, or cry out in warning. They ride imaginary horses, or fight the dragon with imaginary swords as the story unfolds – it is such a wonderful story telling experience! I loved those years of telling stories! I was talking recently with a young man – well not even that young anymore , now a father himself who still recalls the magic of story time that we shared when I taught my first class well over thirty years ago. And I didn’t have a pair of sparkly shoes, just a bell and a candle that called the children into our circle for story time. Always told, never read. His memories are vivid and he’s carried on the tradition with his own little ones, telling them a story every evening with a candle glowing alongside for the duration. Isn’t that lovely! I meant to say what a lovely magical story and leave it at that – oops 😀

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m so pleased you didn’t leave it at that, Pauline. I very much enjoyed reading of your storytelling sessions. How delightful to have that young man, from your first class, carry on your tradition. What an impact you made upon him. The ripples, the ripples, outward they flow, how delightful it is when they let us know.
      You said the story sessions were always told, never read. You did have reading sessions, sharing good books, I assume. At another time?

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      1. thecontentedcrafter

        Yes Norah. Mornings were told stories and afternoons we settled down with a book……. and there was also library time when the world of books was further explored. Yes to those ripples too – we never know how far they go and who they influence. The conversation I told you about came at a time when I was pondering if I had ever made a difference and if I had anything further to offer (I forget why now, but I obviously was feeling a bit flat about something!) And out of the blue my ex-student popped up with his memories and my self doubt disappeared…… 🙂

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        1. Norah Post author

          I knew it! I just wanted to make sure everyone else did too. 🙂
          That conversation was timed just right for your flagging spirit. But I have no doubt about the positive impact you made on those lives years ago, and that continues to influence lives even now – including mine! Thank you for it. Like it or not, you’re a life-long educator.

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  13. karenwrites19

    Hi Norah, I loved reading your blog about the magic of storytelling… I think I spotted a photo of you with a group of children. Is that right? … Karen 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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