Once upon a time... these four little words have the super power to immediately transfer your children and you to another reality. Stories have the power of altering your children’s minds. What stories you tell your child and how you narrate them is of utmost importance.
Storytelling gives parents the chance to experience exciting journeys into the unknown with their children. Together, they can journey to new places, interact and observe new people, and do new things; all from the familiarity of their homes. Storytelling gives parents the undivided attention of their children as they share a blanket, laugh at funny parts, fall in love with heroes and root for villains to fail.
It benefits children as well as parents. It gives parents an opportunity to snuggle, cuddle and connect with their children while developing their kids’ imagination, creativity and language skills. Stories are not just bedtime entertainment that can help impart great morals to children, but they can also help create bonds with children. Your child may forget the first TV show he watched but will always remember the story of the thirsty crow that you told him, before kissing his forehead and wishing him goodnight.
What stories you tell your child and how you narrate them is of utmost importance. Here is a little help on narrating stories that will interest your child and help you bond.
Stories of legends and mythological characters
Introduce your children to the world of mythology with mythological tales around the world. There are hundreds of exciting Indian mythological characters and stories that you can tell your child about. You can even spark your child's interest with mythological stories from Greece and Egypt. Some stories have heroes that are symbolic legends even today. For example, stories of Krishna's life in Gokul, Sindbad the traveller, Achilles or King Ramases of Egypt make great reads for children.
The Indian culture has a variety of mythological characters in great epic stories like Ramayana and the Mahabharata that can set your child's imagination racing. So pick these stories and let your child take a plunge in the world of mythology. You can even find these stories online.
The Arabian Nights
The most amazing tales from Arabian countries that is full of morals and values. Each story in the thousand and one Arabian Nights is as amazing and enchanting as the other. Every story is beautifully woven around genies, witches, the common man, kings, queens, slaves, prince, princesses, animals and spirits. The exotic Arabian Nights are a great collection to have and reading them to your children is equally fun.
Short Stories for children
If you cannot finish big stories like the Arabian Nights, you can read them in parts or opt out for short stories for children. There are different categories like Aesop's fables, Panchatantra and the Jataka tales. Aesop's fables are animal stories and kids will love hearing about talking monkeys and weeping birds. It has very strong values that a child can learn from. The Panchatantra is also a good mix of human and animal characters. The Jataka are based on a belief that Gautam Buddha appeared in many forms to spread his message. The witty Akbar and Birbal tales are very exciting, dramatic and can make your child laugh at the smart morals. You can read one story a day or at bedtime.
Authors, Books and Series kids will love
Read and narrate stories from authors such as Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, C. S. Lewis, Lowis Lowry and Agatha Christie. Read them series like the Famous Five, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Harry Potter, etc. Magic, the fight of good versus evil, victory of the underdog, you name it and the Harry Potter series has it! Classics such as Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia, Matilda, Robinson Crusoe, etc., are termed classics for a reason, and must definitely be a part of all children’s book libraries!
Story time is fun and helpful for kids
Story time is a very special time for you and your child. If your child has played all those games and you do not know what to do next, reading a story is always a refreshing break. Once you and your child spend time reading and listening to stories you both will look forward to that magical story time. Story time helps your child get your undivided attention and helps develop his listening skills, which are a rarity today.
Ensure that you have kept some time aside for telling stories to your children. A child will always be ready to hear the simplest of stories, if you have the time to tell.
Telling stories at bed time
This is the most special time to tell stories. Nothing can replace the feeling when your child is lying cuddled in your arms hearing to every word you have to say. Watch the amazement, excitement and curiosity shining in his eyes at every little detail you provide. Telling stories at bedtime can be a good habit and also a signal that it is time to sleep. Turn off the television and huddle in bed with a nice story book. There are special bedtime story books available that you can read from.
Gift a storybook
A good book makes a great gift. Buy a storybook for your child instead of a toy that will break soon. Use the internet to show your child some important sites where they can read stories. Reward your child with a book when he does something nice. Buy a storybook from a place you visit on a business trip. Read it together. Write a message in every book you buy and date it. It will turn into a treasure once your son or daughter grows up.
How to read a story to a child
If you are reading your child a fairy tale, you can use your voice to emote feelings for different characters. You can read or speak in a hoarse sound for a monster and you can have a delicate soft voice for a princess. A squeaky sound for a squirrel would sound funny. It helps a child imagine better and breathes life into every character. Highlight the positive aspects and downplay negativities. For example, avoid getting Cinderella's beauty under the spotlight. You can bring up the point that not all stepmothers are bad but Cinderella's stepmother was an exception.
Make your child the hero of a story
This one will test your creativity but may be relatively easy too. If you are running out of stories then create a story about your child and tell him that story. Make him or her hero of the story. Send him across to magical lands; highlight his personality, his likes and dislikes and how at the end the hero overcomes the bad. You will end up having a lot of fun and your child will love you for telling him a story where he is the hero, like all the other heroes in storybooks. You can stress on the point that he is your real hero. Isn't he?
If your child is exhausted from hearing the same stories over and over again, there is a plethora of stories available if you just look around. You can pick up anything and weave a story around it. For example, take up the biography of Mother Teresa and tell your child about her like a story. Try doing it with even a simple incident like the apple dropping on Newton's head. You can even source out stories from books or log online.
Listening to stories helps increasing memory. A story narrated well, is remembered well. Imagine, if History teachers taught every lesson like a story would children struggle to remember dates and events? Why don't you give it a try? Pick up that book and tell your child an amazing story that he will cherish always.
Do you tell stories to your child? What stories have you read so far? Does your child enjoy listening to stories? Discuss here.
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- The Indiaparenting Team