The Art of Storytelling
is indeed an art. But once parents master this art, it pays to use one's
imagination. I had evolved my own strategies of story telling, first for
my children and later the grandchildren.
During my early
school years, our grandmother told us stories from our epics. My
sister and myself would sit on the threshold of the kitchen door with a
book in our hands, and she would narrate stories. It never bothered us
that she was not sitting next to us or that the pictures in the books were
not attractive. It was the story that mattered. Whenever we had a query,
she used to cast a backward glance and continue the story. In the present
context cultural, this is no storytelling. Eye contact is a must with today's
children. My grandson demands that I sit next to him while telling the
story from his book, which is very attractive and colourful. He also wants
me to ask him questions. Further, he wants me to mimic while I am reading.
With the growth
of nuclear families, parents find it difficult to come up with original
ideas of telling good stories. However, Indian fables, myths, folktales
and epics provide an incredible source of children's stories. Therefore,
we must ourselves read enough stories to find what appeals to our children
. We should not forget that voice modulation and mimicking is more enjoyable
for children than the mere content.
book stories are the ones that are most appealing to the two to three year-old
kids. There is paucity of such books in our country. The Dr Seuss Books
(USA) and Scholastic Books for kids have become very popular in the United
States, mainly due to eye-catchy visuals.
and the Three Bears (England), Little Red Riding Hood (Germany) and
Cinderella (France) Punyakoti (India) are
folktales. All these stories exist in many versions. The
all folktales is the same. Characters and problems are introduced,
an obstacle is set up, and a resolution ends the story. Usually folktales
are devoid of long descriptive passages and concentrate almost entirely
on plot. They rely on a single theme like triumph of good over evil or
a poor man outwitting a rich man.
is particularly popular with the young. Typical of the repetitive
story is the familiar Ginger Bread Man story. The hero repeats, 'Run,
run as fast as you can! You can't catch me I am the Gingerbread man'.
A similar story is told in our own country called The Crow and The Sparrow
story. The crow asks the sparrow to open the door and the sparrow gives
many reasons for not responding.
with animal exhibiting human faults and qualities, so that children can
identify with them easily. Nowadays many of the popular cartoon characters
that have taken over Indian television are animals. Quick movements and
violent actions of these characters have a hypnotic effect on children
and I would not advise them to get addicted to
for more than 15 minutes at a stretch.
How and why stories:
called 'pourquoi' stories. Most of these stories are closely related to
myths. They tell us why an eclipse occurs, or why the sun and moon
live in the sky etc. While the eclipse story is taken from the Hindu
mythology with Rahu and Ketu as characters, the latter one originates from
Africa. A charming Chinese story tells, `How the Camel Got His Proud
Look' and a Norwegian story explains 'Why Sea Water is Salty'.
are more appropriate for the older children. For instance, the fantasies
of Hans Anderson or the Greek collection of Aesop's Fables are enjoyed
by children and even adults the world over. Aesop was a Greek slave who
lived about sixth century BC.
India: The 'Panchatantra' stories contain the earliest recorded fables
of India originating prior to sixth century BC. The 'Hitopadesha'
is another rearrangement of 'The Panchatantra' with a few additional stories
that dates from the tenth century. Next come the 500 'Jataka Tales'
which are a series of animal stories describing the lessons of life that
Gautama Buddha preached.
attempts of primitive people to explain the nature of the world around
them. Many of them are a part of religions and ancient cultures. Since
they relate to mythology and religion, they are a bit heavy to understand.
But, the interplay of human emotions in these myths have universal appeal.
and Mahabharata form the backbone of Hindu heritage. They have many
stories within themselves which immensely appeal to kids of all times.
Every kid has a rough idea of these epics. And parents can weave
some original modern-day stories around them.
Gods and heroes of ancient Greece and Rome are among a storyteller's favorite
myths. There is abundant action, complex characters in these myths which
comment on human and divine foibles. They also explain the natural phenomena
of birth and death.
Robin Hood, the brave do-gooder, is one of the favourite icons of children.
He is a popular myth appealing to kids of all ages. King Arthur is another
hero in the long series of medieval romances.
close to a myth, relates to the history of a culture. The story usually
revolves around an incident that is believed to have taken place in reality.
All these and
much more! We can enthrall children with stories made up at
the spur of
the moment. Stories which will inculcate the right values in them.
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