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5 Ways Storytelling Can Help Your Family Bond

Storytelling parents are found to have more of an emotional connection with their children. Mighty Mommy has five tips to bring your family closer through the art of storytelling.

By
Cheryl Butler
Episode #361

One of my fondest memories of childhood was cuddling with my parents before bedtime as one of them lulled my siblings and I to sleep with a great story. Some of these bedtime stories were fairytales that they’d read from a book, but the very best tales were the ones they’d make up from the heart. To this day, as the mom of eight kids, I’ve never forgotten those cozy evenings where my mind would drift off to magical places before a dreamy night of heavenly sleep.

It’s been said that storytelling is an art that has mental, social, and educational benefits on children. People of all ages love stories. Children love great stories and thrive when they listen to them. Storytelling literally means reading out stories to others or just telling a story from memory. Sadly, it’s becoming a lost art today because so many busy parents just don’t have the time to spend with our kids because of the crazy, busy lives we lead between work schedules and home life.

If you want to turn the page on your family’s fun quotient, Mighty Mommy has five tips to help bring your family closer through the art of creative storytelling.

Tip #1: Get Cues from a Picture Book

If you aren’t confident in concocting a dreamy fairytale of your own, grab a simple picture book and feed off the colorful visual cues that await you on every page.  My favorite book to launch into a wistful and dramatic bedtime story was Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.  The classic lines read, “In a great green room, tucked away in bed, is a little bunny ... Goodnight room, goodnight moon." As wonderfully and magical as the author’s word were, I would recreate this incredible classic by paying tribute to the special things in my own kid’s rooms. Some nights, I’d make the story funny and make crazy rhymes out of the cute posters hanging in their bedrooms or invent adventures for their stuffed animals and favorite dolls to participate in. The key was making the story extremely personable by using their actual toys and cherished bedroom items to take center stage.

Sometimes I had no idea where the story would end up, but the look on my kid’s faces when they tried to keep their very tired eyes open just long enough to find out what would happen next was absolutely priceless.  See Also:  5 Ways to be a More Playful Parent

Tip #2:  Don’t Be Boring

Storytelling is more than just reading the words of a story out loud. It takes other skills as well. It's important to use different tones in your voice when you are telling a story. If your voice stays at the same level, it is boring! You need your voice to go higher and lower and louder and softer. When you’re telling your kids a story, you need to picture yourself as one of the characters. Ask yourself questions as you get ready to deliver your tale. Are you meek and mild or boisterous and full of life?  Will you try to deliver a life-long message or are you simply trying to stir up a bit of fun for your kids?

The reason my siblings and I loved to hear my parents tell a story when we were kids was the way it was delivered. The stories were usually full of zest and zeal and, even if my parents were fabricating the silliest story of all time, we didn’t care because their tone was genuine. 

One favorite character that I can recall vividly was a little squirrel that lived in the tree next to our bedroom window. He was no ordinary squirrel; he was also a super hero who watched all the goings on in our house because he could see everything from that tall branch that overlooked our bedrooms. When we had difficulty falling asleep, that rascal of a squirrel always knew and would come let my parents know we needed a little extra attention that night. When one of us was doing something extra nice for our younger siblings, that super squirrel would let them know and we would be rewarded the next day completely out of the blue. The tales went on and on and to this day, my four siblings and I still talk about those magical nights that we listened to our parents tell us these amazing stories

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About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!

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