The fine art of story telling
Engaging little ones with toys and stories can be an amazingly enriching and rewarding experience for both kids and their grandparents alike. Story-telling especially, is a fabulous way for kids to bond with their grandparents. Fantasies woven in to stories help stimulate the little ones’ and their grand-parents’ creativity and communication skills. Of course there are other benefits to story-telling as well. Stories are a great way to pass on traditions and oral histories which would otherwise be lost to the younger generation. Kids do not get enough of exposure to traditional folklore, which are an important way to reinforce our Sri Lankan cultural identity.
Read me a story – Kids these days are very likely to say ‘read me a story’. So it would make sense for grandparents to keep a stock of books handy for those moments they share with their grandchildren. Bookstores have a huge number of exciting contemporary children’s books on offer. However, the old classics have a wonderful charm about them and yet are often not read. So grandparents can bridge that gap by reading handed-down fables such as Aesop’s Fables, and folk stories both Sri Lankan and foreign. Also stories with moral values woven in to them are a good way to teach young ones the difference between good and bad.
Spinning a yarn – There is much to be said about the benefits of reading to young ones. But offer to tell them a story and you will see their eyes light up with excitement. We often shy from telling kids stories because we don’t know where to start and how to build the plot. Here are a few tips that will help you spend a fun story hour with your grand kids.
- “Once upon a time there was a king or queen…” never gets out of vogue – tell kids about the great kings and queens of Sri Lanka. They will love their history lessons when they get to that stage, because their achchi or achcha has already told them a fantastic story about the era. As kids get older you can share and discuss important moments in our history so that they can understand current situations better.
- “When I was a little girl or boy” is another great way to start a story. Tell little kids about incidents from the past. An anecdote about a great grand uncle or aunt who did something funny or incredible, or a rogue who broke in to the house and was chased away can be very engaging. Build verbal images of life as it used to be when you were young – Games that you played and the things that gave you joy.
- “When I was little, Avurudu meant….” tell kids about how you celebrated festivals and special occasions. To make that story-telling session more interesting you can have your grand-kids taste some of the goodies you had when you were young.
- “Did anyone tell you about the yakka that was scared of mice…” if you feel the mood is right throw in some fantasy. A little action, a little comic relief and some tragedy that eventually got sorted out will keep the little ones rapt.
- “Let’s build a story together…” Sometimes encourage your grand kids to build a story with you. Let your eyes shine in appreciation when they come up with something. The sillier and more nonsensical the story the better. Let them pull out some props to enact a scene. It can make their time with you so much more fun.
- “When you were a little baby….” most kids love to hear about funny things they did when they were very little. So if story ideas fail you, tell kids about themselves. They will love you for it.
The most important thing to remember is to enjoy your own stories. If you share positive energy while telling kids stories; they will be all ears.