Time for a story...

So what a lovely afternoon I had today! As part of Book Week Scotland I was invited in to do some storytelling sessions in the primary school I recently retired from. I've always enjoyed reading stories to young children but this was telling stories and I LOVE telling stories!  There is really nothing quite like having 60 pairs of eyes fixed on you, knowing that they're hanging on your every word and completely caught up in what happens next. There's an old Scottish Traveller’s proverb which says that storytelling should be told "eye to eye, mind to mind and heart to heart" and it's a great description of the connection that exists between storyteller and listener. Reading to young children is crucial of course. It nurtures their imagination, helps build vocabulary and provides a brilliant opportunity for a relaxing cuddle with your child. Oral storytelling can do all of this too but it also lets you "freestyle" - add in a funny bit, change what a character says or how the story ends and, very importantly, it encourages your child to visualise the story without the prop of illustrations.  Keep reading those bedtime stories but why not ring the changes with a "no book" story from time to time? A traditional tale like The Three Little Pigs or Goldilocks is a great way to start then take it from there and see where you end up!  What do you think? Is there a difference between reading a story and telling a story?

PS For those of you wondering why I was telling (rather than reading) stories during Book Week Scotland, I took in some of my book collection - including the wonderful Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book by Bob Hartman - to let the children see where my ideas come from!  

Elaine Kent