“Mommy, tell me a story,” your little one asks. You don’t mind telling him a story, even when he interrupts you to “help you tell the story.” He benefits from your storytelling activities, whether you’re the one telling the story or he thinks he is. He enjoys the activities, especially when you allow his imagination to run wild.
Storytelling helps your little one increase her vocabulary and learn to see the story playing out in her head, without the influence of the illustrations that appear in a picture book. Your child becomes engaged in the story at a deep level, according to Doriet Berkowitz, in her article on storytelling in the March 2011 edition of “Young Children.” Berkowitz works as a kindergarten and first grade teacher in a charter school in Bloomington, Indiana. Your child could take on the characteristics of someone in the story — walking, talking and performing the actions of that character. She can learn how to anticipate the character’s actions and problem-solve ways to get the character to do what she wants it to do.
Storytelling can introduce your child to other cultures and help him discover that he isn’t so different from other children after all. He could visit a culture halfway around the world, learn what children eat there, how they play and when they think about, according to “Parenting Today’s” article, “Storytelling for Children.” He could pretend to swing with the monkeys in the jungle or travel under the sea in a submarine. The only limitations to what he can see or experience through the story are those in his imagination.
When your child listens to you tell a story, whether it is a familiar story or something you made up on the spot, she learns how elements of stories come together. She learns about plots, characters, conflicts and conclusions and how these elements function in a story, according to “Parenting Today.” She remembers the plot line, and she may help you construct more of the story at another time. She might suggest new characters for the story, how the characters become a part of the story, what their characteristics are, and what new bent these new characters create in the story. She could remember the elements better told in a story, rather than read, because the only way she sees it is in her imagination, writes Berkowitz.
Children listening to someone telling a story or telling the story can build community, according Berkowitz. They might act in coordination during the story. The little ones will listen closer when you whisper as the character hides in the closet or sneaks through the forest. They might jump up and run thundering around the story area like a herd of stampeding animals when the character is afraid and running from a monster. The kids will enjoy sharing the story experience together, but you might run out of story before they run out of energy.