“Daddy, tell me the fishing story again. The one when you caught that big turtle and thought it was a big bass. Oh, pleeease daddy, tell it again, tell it again.”
Our children loved storytelling. At bedtime, we read aloud favorite storybooks, pouring over the detailed pictures and laughing out loud as we read the words of the characters in our funny voices. After reading aloud, we snuggled closer and shared family stories.
Reading books with children on a daily basis instills a lifelong love of books and advances language skills. Children need repeated exposure to the power of the picture book.
However, as Elaine Reese reports in her Atlantic article, “What Kids Learn From Hearing Family Stories,” telling everyday family stories to little ones “confers many of the same benefits of reading—and even some new ones.”
“Books contain narratives,” she continues, “but only family stories contain your family’s personal narratives. Fortunate children get both. They hear and read stories from books to become part of other people’s worlds, and they hear and tell stories of their family to understand who they are and from whence they came.”
So do both. Read aloud daily from baby’s bookshelf and tell fun stories from your own past experiences. Keep the stories simple. Expressive. Look for ways to add a story time to different parts of your everyday routines, from waking up to getting dressed to playing to eating snacks to riding in the car to what you see at the park. And because singing is just words put to music, try singing or chanting a story.
Reese adds, “Family stories can be told nearly anywhere. They cost us only our time, our memories, our creativity. They can inspire us. Protect us, and bind us to others. So be generous with your stories, and be generous in your stories. Remember that your children may have them for a lifetime.”