The Magic of Making Stories:

Sharing your own stories

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Share your own stories.

You’ve got television beat hands down. A study done in the 80’s showed that storytelling had a much greater impact on the minds of children than television did. They remembered much more. David Sidwell, at the Utah State University Oral History Program explains, “Storytelling demands that the audience share with the teller in creating the pictures, actions and emotions of the story.”

Young kids are eager to hear real-life tales from their elders. Writer Eudora Welty remembers this from her own childhood. She writes in her autobiography, “Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.”

Here’s how to develop your experiences into stories to tell your kids:

Other pages in this article

Why kids don't create
Reading aloud
• Share your own stories
Basic plots


Round Robin Stories
Wacky Headlines
Build a Hero
Invent a World

Keep a story journal. As funny or interesting things happen to you, take a few minutes and jot them down, or enter them into a digital file. Put down little summaries of stories from when you were a kid. They’ll be fresh in your memory when the opportunity to tell it comes up.

Add in stories from other generations. Most people love to tell their stories, they just need a little prompting. Stumped for questions? Start with old photos. Want a story from all angles? Get relatives together and kick around memories of the same event. For those who are serious about gathering family stories, the Center for Life Stories Preservation has many helpful tips.

Don’t always connect stories to a moral. We all know how useful it is to underline a point we’re making to our kids with a similar story from our own life: “When I was your age…” But don’t miss the sheer pleasure of cuddling up close to a child and just sharing an interesting memory.

Make your own picture book of a family story. Buy a small photo album and put pictures in from a recent family trip, or use photos to illustrate a story you’ve told your young child. Pre-school kids love stories to be told and retold. While you retell the story, they can follow along with the pictures.

all material ©2003 Bruce Van Patter