Everyone has a story

Storytelling is the next best thing to actually experiencing reality.  

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today,” author Robert McKee said, while American writer and anthropologist, Mary Catherine Bateson, observed that “The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.” Given its compelling power on people of all ages, across languages, and around the globe, on World Storytelling Day, MetroPlus catches up with two professional storytellers who hand out tips and tricks to parents and teachers that would aid their storytelling technique.

According to Aparna Athreya, founder of the Bangalore-based Kid and Parent Foundation, “Storytelling is a window of discovery for a child. Stories can have within it culture, tales of magical beings, description of faraway lands, and so much more. Storytelling is the next best thing to actually experiencing reality because a story takes you, and in this case, a child, to where the story belongs. When storytelling is employed, a child’s learning readiness also increases. While today’s children might take more to new-age media, it’s about time we reinvent the art of storytelling. One of the biggest benefits of storytelling is that parents and children get to bond so well over it.”

Deeptha Vivekanand, founder of Ever After and founding member of the Bangalore Storytelling Society, says: “For starters, you could tell family stories. If you have the means, research about your roots. Your own life is a treasure trove of stories. Turn these events into compelling stories.” “A parent knows his/her child best and therefore it is important for parents to capitalise on their knowledge of a child to tell a story. Use characters that appeal most to your child. While some kids may like superheroes, others may enjoy magical creatures. Make your child the hero of your story. In this way, he might even complete your story and you are pushing his creative boundaries to do so. Make storytelling as sensorial as possible. Talk of various tastes, smells, emotions, make your story a visual treat,” Aparna suggests.

Many parents get away with reading a book to their children and presume that’s storytelling but Deeptha says, “Reading is not storytelling. It is meant to convey an idea simply through the medium of speech. While books are great sources for stories, simply reading from them cannot create the same experience as when the story is told. If you wish to use a story from a book, as a teller, first tell the story to your audience and then bring out the book as this will help listeners imagine the story on their own. Remember, visualisation is the cornerstone of storytelling.”

When it comes to kids, narrating stories with a moral at the end is typical, but this expert recommends: “Avoid saying ‘the moral of the story is…’ at the end. Let the story connect to the audience in its own way; skip the need to tell them what to think. Instead show them how to think. Their answers might be revealing to you!”

Today is a good day to begin — take your child to the monasteries of South-East Asia, introduce her to the world of fairies, pixies, gnomes, and goblins, create your own Malgudi and revisit your fictitious town with your adventurous son, or embark on your version of a journey to Neverland…

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Printable version | Nov 22, 2021 3:00:45 PM |

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