I vaguely remember the first story I told my daughter. I say vaguely because I was so sleep deprived I can’t remember the plot. We had just moved halfway across the country and my three-year-old, Catherine, was having trouble going to sleep. Pajamas were on, stories had been read, and lights were out. I was lying in bed with her when I decided to try creating a story just for her. So, “Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Catherine. She lived in Georgia with her mommy, her daddy, and her little brother, Charlie.”
That was 2009 and since then I have created hundreds of stories with her at bedtime and beyond. We’ve done everything from modified fairy tales to originals. We’ve invented recurring characters and I’ve borrowed characters from favorite books and movies to interact with us in our imaginations. She’s helped by choosing names and lots of the details.
Like almost all people, I love a good story. I came to storytelling through my background teaching foreign language. I trained in TPR Storytelling for several years and using those techniques, I developed stories to teach my students French. I loved when a story would have my students so caught up in the plot that they forgot they were learning a brand new language. Storytelling made language acquisition in the classroom much more natural and much more fun.
When I left the classroom to be a mom, I had had some practice creating fun and wacky stories. I adapted my classroom techniques to bedtime and as the French say, voila! A free, custom-made activity! I wasn’t teaching French, but I was teaching fun.
There are a number of reasons to try storytelling with your own little ones. It’s a great way to enhance listening skills, grow vocabulary, and encourage imagination. They love to be the star of the story. (Who here hasn’t imagined what it would have been like to have super powers or an elf show up at Christmas?) My favorite reason though is that it is a delightful way to snuggle up and be silly.