The Art of Storytelling- 5 Tips to Get Started With Young Children

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Do all children love being read to by their teacher, a parent or caregiver? Many children are captivated by a great book. Others squirm as they share, “I can’t see the picture!” However, many children miss out on the great art of oral storytelling. How often have you shared a great story with a young child? The next time the power goes out, you are willing to let your imagination guide you, or you are in nature without a book, try using these tips to help a child or group hone their own “movies in their mind.” You may be surprised by their undivided attention reactions!

1. How do you begin?

Pick a familiar story to begin the oral storytelling process. A fairytale such as Cinderella, The Princess and the Pea, or Jack and the Bean Stalk are great stories to practice this art with the comfort of major event details in place.

2. Set the mood

Have children sit in a quiet place. Talk in a low pitch voice. Begin with a familiar pattern such as, Once upon a time…  or In the beginning…..

3. Immediately share the characters and plot

Share the characters, potential problem, and setting(s) early on when telling an oral story to children.

4. Get the children involved

Ask children to share specific details about the characters, setting, or problem unfolding when they are willing to contribute. Children who feel their ideas are valued and integrated into a story will become more connected to it. A child will naturally develop “seeing” a movie/story in their mind as they become comfortable contributing to the creation process.

5. Develop imagery and reading comprehension skills

Share character names and problems, but ask children to share details such as hair and eye color, age, setting details. Young children who are learning to read focus on decoding skills and struggle with visualization. When a child is focusing on what a page says instead of what it means they cannot recall the events. Storytelling allows children to focus on mental images without the barriers of the written word.

Oral storytelling came before books

Stories were shared orally before they were written. Anyone can be a good storyteller. Everyone has a story to share in their own way. Feel free to leave your great oral stories here.

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