Do you have a favorite story your family tells when you get together during the holidays? Do you know what happened the day you were born, or how your parents met? Do your own children know these stories about themselves?
How To Make Storytelling A Family Tradition
Storytelling is an important family tradition that can help children understand the family they are part of. Storytelling also preserves priceless family history. Telling stories is a skill that can be learned, so don’t feel like you need to be a born storyteller to make storytelling a family tradition in your house. Here are some ideas to help you start telling your family stories at home.
Why Storytelling is Important
When children listen to stories about themselves or other family members, it can help them understand that they are an important part of their family with similarities and differences between family members. By telling children the story of how their name was chosen, how their parents met or when they moved to another country they gain more knowledge of who they are and where they have come from.
Stories are also a powerful way to teach good behavior and morals without sounding preachy or nagging. Children can absorb information from a story and compare it to themselves in a safe way without feeling put on the spot.
Learning to Tell Stories
Anyone can learn to tell stories, and the material for stories is all around us in our daily lives. In Telling Tales: Storytelling in the Family, Gail de Vos, Merle Harris, and Celia Barker Lottridge share some wonderful tips on making storytelling a ritual in the home. Start by telling stories that are familiar to you, which you can tell from memory. This might be folk or fairy tales, or memorable stories from your own childhood. By practicing with your children as an audience you can watch where they are engaged by your story and where their attention begins to wander.
According to de Vos, Harris and Lottridge, children relish stories told from memory and having a library of stories you can tell from memory can be a useful tool for defusing tantrums or pacifying children in waiting rooms. If you wish to refine your storytelling skills further, Telling Tales has pointers on extracting the key points to include in a story and how to maintain interest in your listeners.
Gathering Family Stories to Tell
If you want to be reminded of stories from your own childhood, use family gatherings as opportunities to ask questions that can lead to the telling of stories from your childhood. To be sure that you will remember them, either tell them yourself regularly, tape record or videotape your family telling them, or write them down in a notebook. If you notice your own children doing or saying humorous things or you see a story unfolding around you, capture that story by retelling it or writing down the key points so you can craft it into a story later. Children love to hear funny stories about themselves, their first words, first steps and the memorable things they have done.
This holiday season, gather around the table with your friends, relatives, and family and share your favorite stories with each other. Storytelling is an ancient tradition that fosters a sense of family belonging and togetherness, and it costs nothing yet has many abundant rewards. With a little practice and some confidence, storytelling can become a family tradition in your home.