March 16, 2012

World Storytelling Day, Part 2: My Thoughts

World Storytelling Day is celebrated each year on the date of the Vernal Equinox; in 2012, that takes place Tuesday, March 20.  In my previous post, I asked if there whether there is still any need for traditional storytelling in the modern world.  Below is just a tiny little bit of what I think.

Storytelling harkens to a time when there were no books, and no writing.  So, do we still need storytellers & storytelling today?  What do you think?

Here’s something amazing about the experience people get from watching & listening to a storyteller: in a crowd of 50 listeners, 50 different images of the story are taking place—51, actually, as the image in the storyteller’s head is unique, as well!  A picture book has set images that guide the imagination, but the told story—which is a living thing that can change each time it is shared, even by the same teller—lends itself to each listener’s inner artist.  The told story can adapt to its audience, tailoring itself to the age group, gaining little details as the teller is affected by the reactions of the group.  

Here’s something else about storytelling: we are all storytellers.  Whether we are recounting an old tale we love, or just talking about our day (perhaps changing & enhancing certain details with every retelling), we frequently, in some form, practice our own storytelling skills.  When you & your children watch a traditional storyteller at work, you are not just witnessing the modern extension of an ages-old practice; you are also entering into & benefiting from the tradition.  A child with plenty of experience hearing stories becomes adept at building those mental images I’ve mentioned, learns a lot about narrative, and pieces together how to effectively pass along his own narratives.  The ability to get across an idea in a clear & effective way puts them ahead in school, in business, and in life.  

Also, hearing stories is just plain FUN.  For ANY age (it is by no means just “a kid thing”).

The ideas I’ve shared here barely scratch the surface of the elements & benefits of storytelling—just like a single day of celebration cannot possibly fulfill your story needs for a whole year.  Enjoy World Storytelling Day.  If you can find a way to celebrate on that very day, GREAT!  But it’s better still if you have to miss that one day on the calendar, but find ways throughout the year to honor the enjoyment & many benefits that every single one of us can derive from this classic & modern art form.

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