When was the last time you read a beautiful story from a book or narrated one of your numerous life experiences? Storytelling has become a thing of the past. This art is rapidly disappearing in this generation. Gone are those days when parents spared some time to tell stories to their children. The ever-growing popularity of gadgets and the advancement of technology have shifted the focus away from storytelling towards digital media. Today, a lot of children fall asleep while watching TV programs, or playing on their electronic devices. The tremendous amount of pressure on working parents also plays a significant role in the amount of time they spend with their children. But what is storytelling? And is it still important today?
Storytelling is simply reading out a story from a book, a phone or even talking about your own experiences. Storytelling is probably one of the oldest forms of art. It encourages communication between children and their parents, helping them form a lasting relationship. What seems like a simple pleasure of childhood actually has numerous benefits, because it plays an important role in the overall development of a child, and kids today need it more than ever. Additionally, storytelling is a great way to reduce the amount of time children spend in front of a screen. Below, are some of the reasons why you should take some time out of your busy schedule to read stories to your children:
1. Expand their imagination through storytelling
I bet you can recall your favorite childhood book/story – not just because of the way you were captivated by the storyline, but also because it captured your imagination and allowed you to explore a world you created in your mind. This is one advantage storytelling has over digital media. By telling your child a story, you help him/her imagine the characters, places, settings, etc. This will help sharpen their imaginative and creative skills. It will allow their imagination to run free and help them develop neural networks in the area of the brain responsible for creating mental images and language recognition (listening, reading and braille) – the left-sided parietal-temporal-occipital association cortex. This will largely contribute to their success later in any structured learning environment.
2. It helps develop listening skills
This is a very important skill because it has an important effect on the development of language and social skills in children. Storytelling is much more than a bedtime routine, and so it is important to prepare before every session. Reading shows your child that each word provides information. It helps your child to be more focused over a longer period of time.
This is important because most kids have difficulties paying attention to anything over a long period of time. This has become even worse with all the distractions in the form of video games, TV programs, and the Internet. Storytelling can help solve this issue and improve a child’s listening skills. When telling an interesting story to a child, she/he will listen keenly to know what happens next. You can also broaden their thinking horizons by telling them stories about different countries, cultures, religions, etc. This will help promote connections between different people and cultures and they will have a better understanding of life.
3. It helps facilitate communication
Reading stories to children helps them develop their communication skills and vocabulary. Language development is very important early in a child’s life. It is critical for a child to progress from communication via facial expressions, gestures, and crying, to verbal communication. The truth is, it is also important for you because you might not always understand what your child is trying to communicate, so the faster your child learns how to speak, the better it will be for both of you.
When it is time for you to read a story, you can cuddle your child and encourage her to participate by turning pages. You could also allow your child to choose a book – this will make him more involved in this activity. Read together, ask your child what she thinks could happen in a particular scene and wonder together. This exercise will not only help facilitate communication between the two of you, but it will show your child that you value his interests and the time you spend together.
Moreover, studies have shown that most lifelong readers are those who found it pleasurable when they were kids. And considering all the benefits that reading brings to the table, it is a smart idea to practice reading with your child, so she/he can grow to love it.
In all, storytelling helps kids understand better lessons of life. It is time for you to pick some interesting story books, put aside anything that could be a distraction, and spend some quality time with your kids. By making this a habit, you won’t only build an excellent rapport with them, but you will make them champions of their generation.
D. C. Lawrence, Ph. D., MSc., BA., BA.
An I/O/E psychologist, Dr. D.C. Lawrence has taught IT, Business, and Social Sciences curricula for over eighteen years. His teaching expertise is augmented by HR and OB MOD consulting. Besides teaching, D. C. enjoys jazz, sports, traveling, and of all things “cooking”.