Mill Creek Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

By Beth Bond 

Your legacy as a storyteller


Last updated 7/25/2018 at Noon

The best stories are the ones you tell. The oral tradition far predates the written word or, heaven forbid, video. And it can still keep young, loved ones’ attention and fascination long after they’ve tired of watching the boob tube.

Writing the great American novel is not a “skill-set” for everyone. A more realistic approach may be to re-tell snippets and incidents in a life well lived.

How many times, in a social situation, has a friend said, “That reminds me of when …”? Not only does it encourage a listener, but it validates the life and times of the storyteller.

Storytelling by the elders of the tribe is as old as the cavemen who told stories of bravery to the young men who would be hunting the great wooly mammoth. We know this to be true when viewing the fantastic but primitive cave paintings that have been preserved.

American Indian legends, on the other hand, often related the role of natural phenomena like thunderstorms, earthquakes and the movement of the moon and stars. Even the very young would sit still and listen to these wonderful stories.

The best story is still a “real” one, and if it comes from a family member, it will be treasured and remembered for a long time. And, just maybe, it will again be passed on to the next generation.

So, how to start this valuable process? Spontaneity is the key. Maybe the situation has a fear factor, because it is an unknown experience for a child, like going to the hospital, the dentist, or even a new school. Recalling how you coped with this situation can be a good start.

Adapt this story to the age of the child and, even better, make fun of yourself. After all, as the author, feel free to editorialize when necessary. And very special stories can begin with phrases like, “When I was your age, we didn’t have…” Or, especially appealing is the ones that begin… “When your Mom, (or Dad) were little…” Never ever resort to, “Once upon a time…” That’s Cinderella’s story.

Mays Mayhew of Aurora, Illinois, home schools her two young children. She relates a M.I.T. study in 2015 in which MRI activity was recorded in early learners. This was the origin of “The Goldilocks Effect.” It seems that teaching from videos had the images moving too fast for comprehension. Thus, a “too hot” experience.

On the other hand, reading alone was slow, halting and a “too cold” experience.

The method that was just right, (not too hot and not too cold) was using the close and intimate presence of a teacher or parent, to explain with emotion and feeling, the story or lesson at hand. These shared experience-based situations positively influenced future behavior of the youngsters.

Don’t attempt to teach a moral with each story, but do encourage comments and questions. By chronicling a lifetime of experiences, it’s possible to leave a legacy of memories. It may help to write down some events, and there are several journals on the market. Some even have pages subtitled, such as ”My Favorite Vacation” or “The Best Christmas Ever.”

Just don’t quickly grab an old standby like “Snow White” every time, or even, heaven forbid, the TV remote, when it’s “storytime.”


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