The four words ‘Once Upon A Time’ transport us to a magical land. With these four words we enter the world of stories. Stories have such a lasting appeal on us that we tend to forget everything else but never a story. We can easily recall the stories we heard as children from our daadi (paternal grandmother) and naani (maternal grandmother), aunts and uncles. These stories played an integral role in shaping who we are today. Such is the influence of stories!
Unfortunately, for most children today; their world is devoid of this simple pleasure. Today’s electronic age and working parents who are pressed for time have turned children into consumers of readily served content and their need for imagination and day-dreaming remains unsatiated. As the hustle and bustle of life takes over the parents’ time, storytelling is fast becoming a lost art today. Most parents assume that showing stories on a digital medium is as good as narrating it to them. However, what they fail to realize is that storytelling is an interactive process which triggers imagination. Digital media on the contrary offers a one-way input where the child’s brain becomes a mere dumping ground, rather than an active participant.
Besides limiting imagination, over exposure to screen-time has led to dwindling attention span in children, their sleep patterns are getting altered and learning difficulties are setting in. Excessive exposure to screen time also thwarts originality and innovation. But despite so many cons, in this era, we can’t keep ourselves or our children untouched by these devices. What we can do is try and minimize the impact of these devices on our children. We need to limit their time of gadget use and instead use the power of stories to shape their world just like our parents and grandparents did for us.
Enriching their world with stories should be effortless as children and stories are made for each other. All we need to do is invest some time into this.
“The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won, than by the stories it loves and believes in.” – Harold Clarke Goddard
Children experience the world through stories. They travel to far flung places through stories, meet extraordinary people and encounter situations which expand and enrich their world. Stories help them to experience others’ situations and the paths they should or should not take. This eventually helps them to deal with real life situations.
Stories ignite imagination, dissipate knowledge and provide inspiration while entertaining children. It is possibly the most effective communication channel to interact with young minds, in fact, with anyone. Through stories we can engage children on values, historical events & eminent figures, diverse cultures, science, human race, etiquettes and anything and everything we want to talk to our children about.
Great stories establish cultural context effortlessly and make listeners live the characters and events thereby creating a receptiveness that a more distant medium cannot. All of us have found living characters from mythology, folktales from around the world and works of masterful storytellers like Shakespeare. Have we not experienced and lived by different ideals and ideas with those characters? This is the power of stories. A mind raised on stories will intuitively be more open and appreciate cultural differences.
Storytelling is very important for cognitive development of children. Stories boost memory and add to the vocabulary enriching the language. Without stories, children would miss out on a lot of developmental milestones.
The power of stories cannot be undermined. With so many benefits of storytelling, it indeed is very important for parents to fit in storytelling into their daily schedules.
Some tips for parents
- Anytime is a good time for a book. Try to share one story at least every day.
- A visit to a bookstore or library in the evening could be a nice outing.
- Telling stories to children just before they go to bed should become an important part of every parent’s schedule.
- Lookout for story sessions happening in libraries, bookstores and other cultural spaces in your city.
- Bond over storytelling games.