Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tell Me a Story

From a child to a parent, there may not be another request that warms the heart more than this one. In that one sentence, there is such simplicity and trust. Take me on an adventure. Let's use our imaginations together. There are no rules. There are no expectations.

I have to remind myself often of the latter. Although I am a children's librarian, I am not a born storyteller. I can build interest and excitement in a great picture book or even a mediocre one, but inventing a story--and delivering it simultaneously--is not my forte. My husband, however, is great at it. Even I occasionally ask him to tell me a story. I love the way he weaves a few little details from our lives into an otherwise fictional tale.

Telling a story is really a gift to the listener, isn't it? A gift of time and thoughtfulness and sharing. There is something magical about sitting back and just listening. There is an openness. Knowing this is not pre-planned or written down in a book somewhere. It is new and personal and alive.

Telling stories or reciting stories is also a precursor to reading. So when J asks me to tell him a story, I am reminded of what a fantastic opportunity it is to continue fostering a love of reading.

Last week at the playground, C and J randomly brought the story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff to life in their play. All J needed was to see that the play structure at Sharon Woods had a bridge before he asked C to play the troll living beneath it. I watched, smiling, as J tried to tiptoe across the bridge without waking the troll. Suddenly C leaped out and boomed, who's that tripping across my bridge? J laughed and then listened intently as C instructed that in order to cross to safety, he had to correctly answer three questions.

Watching them, I was so proud. Unexpectedly proud.

I had expected to see them run around and chase each other. I expected them to play hide and seek. I expected them to have fun and run off some of that 4 year-old energy.

But I didn't expect them to share such a creative learning experience. Role-playing, vocabulary, storytelling. It was all there. Things that are usually tied to books, storytime, or rainy day pretend play.

The inner planner in me was surprised to watch this all come about so naturally and effortlessly. It didn't take any planning. It was simple, but it was fun!

And I'm going to remember that the next time J says, Mama, tell me a story.


Do you have a favorite moment witnessing your child telling stories, or incorporating books and literacy into her play? Please share!


Amanda said...

Love this story Katie :) Funny though. I actually have a post started on this very subject, but the toddler version!!!

I too want to be a better oral storyteller. It is tough. My best friend (Kelli) always tells the best stories. I remember I used to love when we were roomates in college and she would recap her dreams for me. I always tell her she needs to start a blog!!

katie said...

Ooh, well I can't wait to read your post! :)