The following post is by editor Kara Fleck.
Storytelling can be intimidating for some parents. They worry that they won’t know what to talk about, how to craft the story, that it won’t be interesting enough to hold their child’s attention. And sometimes, even if storytelling comes very naturally to us, by the time bedtime rolls around, we’re simply too tired to come up with something creative and engaging on the spot.
“Tell me a story” can be a phase that parents begin to dread. But, the truth is, this is one of those areas where we tend to over-think and worry too much. No elaborate plots or theater degrees are needed. Children love simple stories and they love it when we are the ones telling them.
So, I am going to share some very simple ideas for storytelling and give you a few story starters, too. And I’m doing in so in my first ever vlog on Simple Kids.
I’m afraid I was a little nervous and I didn’t speak quite loudly enough in some places and I’m certainly an amateur vlogger, but I hope you’ll enjoy meeting me face-to-face and be able to pick up a few tips and ideas for storytelling that you can use with your kids.
Also on YouTube.
A Familiar Name
Name the main character after your child. Give other characters names of family members, pets, or friends. A recent hit with my son Max was a story about going to the zoo and every animal was named Max: Max Lion, Max Elephant, Max Monkey, Max Dolphin, etc.
Once upon a time, a bear cub named Max was walking through the forest with his mother …
Use a story from your child’s past.
When you were two years old your very favorite thing to wear was your red sparkly shoes. One day, you put on your red sparkly shoes and …
A few ideas:
- Tell the story of how your child got their name
- Tell them the story of their first birthday
- Describe an outfit that you liked to dress them when they were a baby
- Tell them about foods they liked to eat as a baby, toddler – describe how they ate, the faces they made
Tell stories from your own childhood. Kids love to hear about when their parents were little!
Once upon a time, when Mommy was a little girl, she went to the train museum with her Grandpa. While we were there we saw …
When Daddy was a little boy, his very favorite game to play was …
With a Twist
Tell a favorite familiar story with a twist or combine two of your child’s favorite fairy tales.
Once upon a time, Little Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother invited the Three Little Pig to tea …
Kids love repetition. It is comforting and familiar. Don’t be afraid to use the same characters or the same basic story outline over and over again. Before long, they will be like old friends. Our story of the Rainbow Dresses is a favorite because my daughter knows it by heart. It has been woven into the fabric of our family through the telling and re-telling.
You can repeat the same plot line, too. Classic stories like The Enormous Turnip are still making kids giggle today, in part because of their repetitive nature: by the time the Farmer’s son comes along to help the Farmer and his wife pull the enormous turnip from the ground, kids can predict what happens next.
Being able to anticipate what happens next is part of the appeal for young children, so use that repetition in your own stories. What may seem overly simple to you will delight your child.
To Be Continued
Stories don’t have to have a nice tidy ending. Let the story weave itself in installments night after night. Let your child take over and tell parts of it, too.
Ask your child, “What do you think happened next?” and let them give you the ending … or is it just the beginning of another adventure?
In Your Home
Hopefully at least one of these story starters appeals to you and can be something that you can rely on the next time your child puts you on the spot with the phrase “tell me a story” – maybe even at bedtime tonight?
Do your kids have a favorite story that you tell? What are some of your tips for storytelling?