26. The art of storytelling- a tool for life

Posted under 30 Days of Awesome Parenting



(read about the adventure here)


Tip 26: The art of storytelling – a magic tool for life

When I first became a parent, my idea of storytelling was to read a book to my child before she went to bed. That was it. If only I’d known that there was a world of storytelling out there different to anything I could have imagined, with the power to truly change the mood of our day, transform difficult behaviours, be a guiding light to help manage tantrums and outbursts, and enhance language skills like nothing else.

And it is so simple to do. Cheap. Doesn’t require much extra time or brainpower from us. Invites us to find simple props using what we have on hand. And more than anything else, lights our creative spark and makes it burn so strongly we can find our way out of any situation we encounter.

It means stepping out of our comfort zone a little. Dropping the book and setting it down. And lifting our game by learning something off by heart (or almost off by heart…)

It means putting on our ‘actor’s hat’ and becoming something we are probably not- a storytelling magician, a alchemist, a wizard of delights.

But when we step into the shoes that belong to this role, we ARE this person. We become storytellers, and when we become storytellers, forever more we will always be a storyteller. It’s a lovely thing.

I talk a lot about story, and the power of story for positive change, and the power of story for discipline and encouraging good behaviour, and how story can inspire plenty of cooperation from your kids, and also about becoming a storyteller in my book so I won’t repeat that here but I will share three NEW spells that will have you bewitched in no time. A storyteller you will be.

1. Start short. Find your favourite children’s picture book- a short one- and read it through, over and over and over again, until you are confident you can share it out loud with your children quite confidently- if not word-for-word, then almost word-for-word. (Try Julia Donaldson’s or Pamela Allen’s or Mem Fox’s books- they are fun and have rhythms within the text that makes them easy to memorise.) Now put the book down, and use your voice only to retell the story to your children as they go to bed. Telling stories without the visual of a picture book allows the children to re-create (or invent new) pictures in their own minds- an internal ‘television screen’ perfectly matched to their age, personality, and temperament.  Just perfect.

2. Use a simple prop.  Props can help us to remember the order of the action, and give us something to do (or hang onto) when we take our baby steps on this journey towards storytelling magnificence. To start, grab three things in your immediate vicinity: a hairbrush, a toothpick, a teatowel, a spoon, a coat hanger, a crystal, a book-end. Whatever works. Use these props in creative ways to bolster your story action.  When you are brave enough, NEW stories can then also be made up on the spot USING these random props.  Such fun for the kids, and you too!

3. To capture your children’s attention, go ‘tiny’. Flood your story-time with magic!  Whisper. Tiptoe. Take small steps. Go low and get down to their level. Sprinkle a shower of golden glitter. Give a little gift- a seed in a paper pouch, a crystal fragment, a baby shell, a teeny leaf. More magic happens when the unexpected occurs, and your quiet tiny movements and sounds are mesmerising too.


Have a go at putting the storybook down.  Today, I want you to tell your children a simple but true story from your childhood. It doesn’t have to be long. 5 minutes is plenty. Observe what happens… And choose a book to memorise.


Action required:

Every day this week, spend five minutes learning the words of your chosen story.  I like to repeat it out loud to make sure I do actually know it, rather than presume I know it. (The shower is good for this. So is your daily walk.) Then when it lives in you, it is TIME. Time to unleash your storytelling goddess.  Go, go, go…


Commit to the task by writing it down here in the comments below or in your 30 days of AWESOME journal. 


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