How to Win Your Child’s Heart by Storytelling

power-of-storytellingpower-of-storytellingNo, this won’t be another article on the importance of reading aloud books to children. Everyone who values their kids’ development and learning already knows about this.

However, are you one of those parents who’s probably looking for some variety to your usual bedtime stories? Or maybe you’re a home-schooling parent who wants to expose your kids to a whole new level of literary experience?

Or maybe you value excellence and want to give your child a head start in school academics? Or you  want to show your deep love for your child and build emotional intimacy?

Why not try storytelling? As long as there have been people, there have been stories. Stories began with oral tradition, meaning they were passed on by being heard and retold.

Cultures all over the world have been enriched by such stories. We now know them as folktales or legends and some have even crossed cultural barriers and are known throughout the world. For instance, Greek mythology stories are part and parcel of English literature subjects.

storytelling-for-kidsStorytelling is an ancient and valuable art form that can do wonders for your child’s learning and development.

For one, it encourages children to use their imaginations. Stories take on another dimension as children are forced to make do without storybook pictures. As they listen to your every word, they paint their own images on the canvas of their minds.

Second, it’s a way of passing on wisdom without sounding like a condescending adult. Storytelling based on traditional folktales is a gentle way to guide children toward good moral values by presenting imaginative situations in which the outcome of both wise and unwise, good and bad decisions can be seen. Fables are examples of such stories.

So are you ready? Before anything else, let me tell you that storytelling is not for everyone but it can be learned. If you’re brave enough and more important, committed enough to learn this art then it can be done.

You see, storytelling relies mostly on your voice, facial expressions, and hand gestures. There are no books nor pictures that kids can look at. You need to captivate them with how you talk and how you convey the action and emotions of the story.

Sounds like a tall order? You’d better believe it! Storytelling takes more work than just reading a book out loud. But don’t worry, just like with anything else, you can learn how to be a great storyteller to your kids as long as you want to and are prepared to put in the hard work.


Finding a Story

The first thing you need to do is find a good story. Not all stories are made for storytelling so you have to be extra choosy. For newbies, it is recommended you start with folktales. Folktales are the easiest, because they’re made for telling. They’re lively, direct, simple, and with built-in memory aids.

According to Chris King’s “What Makes a Good Story?” successful storytellers have a variety of opinions about what makes a good story. This said however, he goes on to provide the following points he believes makes for a perfect piece for storytelling:

  • A good story is one that touches people in some way.
  • A good story has to have substance.
  • A good story needs conflict and resolution.
  • A good story creates vivid images.
  • A good story is not “wimpy.”
  • A good story is the story that is perfect for your audience.
  • A good story is a story that you love and love to tell.

For more information on each of the points taken up, go to

Preparing for Storytelling

Once you have found the perfect story, you will need to spend time reading and rereading it and even telling it in your own words in front of the mirror. Yes, it’s that lot of work! Now don’t ever fall into the trap that you don’t have to do this just because it’s just going to be with your kids. They deserve only the best stellar performance from you. And to give the most outstanding storytelling you can give, remember the following tips:

  1. Know the story by heart! The aim here is not to memorize the story word for word. Instead, you need to learn the story so that telling it becomes extremely easy. Learn the story as a whole rather than in fragments. Try to map out the basic storyline. A story essentially has three important parts:
  • The beginning that sets the theme like the place and time where it happens. The beginning also introduces the characters and even the conflict;
  • The body, in which the events and conflicts build up to the climax; and
  • The resolution of the conflict.

When you know these three important points, adding details to the story becomes easier.

  1. Absorb the style of the story. To retain the original flavor and vigor of the story, learn the characteristic phrases which recur throughout the story. For instance, in “The Gingerbread Man”, this line is the signature mark of this much-loved children’s folk tale:

Run, run,

As fast as you can,

You can’t catch me,

I’m the Gingerbread Man!

This is actually sung and would be a sure crowd-pleaser if you sing it and then let the kids sing with you whenever the line comes up.

Telling the Story

Don’t think you have to be perfect the first time you tell your story. It’s not likely! But, if you love your story and have prepared it reasonably well, you will surely give pleasure to your listeners and yourself.

Storytellers have their own unique ways. Some have minimal facial expressions but still can maintain audience impact because of their mastery of the story and animated hand gestures. Others don’t move at all but have the best voices and facial expressions.

While trying to look for your unique style, Barry McWilliams, author of Effective Storytelling: A Manual for Beginners, advises new storytellers to keep the following points in mind:

  • Dialog should make use of different voices for different characters and using the Storytelling “V” – where you will shift your facing (or posture) as the dialog switches from character to character.
  • Use your voice to create the atmosphere or tension as the story progresses.
  • Use gestures and facial expressions add much to the visualization of the story. Be sure they are appropriate and natural. Practice them!
  • Pacing involves both the volume and rate at which you speak, and the progression of the action in the story. Dialog slows a story’s pace down, while narrating action speeds it up.
  • Repetition and exaggeration have always been basic elements of storytelling.

 Experience will hone these skills, and when – and how – to use them most effectively. You can get more good tips to become a great storyteller with these great books HERE.




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