Friday, December 27, 2013

The Art and Craft of Story-Telling

If there’s one skill that every parent should build / enhance / develop if you have a little child [less than 5 years] at home, it is one of “S T O R Y – T E L L I N G”. Personally, I also think it helps to have strong story-telling skills even as your children grow up. Simply because it can be a powerful personal / parenting asset and skill. Looking at my own life, I know of several people much older than me (read as my parents / grandparents generation) who can still find their voice and way (amidst children / adults / power and influence) in any kind of situation through story-telling! 

The Wikipedia definition reads as “Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, and images, often by improvisation or embellishment

If you reflect at your own life, you will be quick to recognize that from time immemorial the Indian context and environment has always had stories in abundance. Not one / two, but a zillion wonderful stories which are short, sweet and ALWAYS ALWAYS have a powerful message and take-away! Examples include stories from the Ramayana, stories from the Mahabharatha, to the Akbar Birbal tales to the Amar Chithra Kathas to the Tinkles to more recently, to the Karadi Tales and all the newer stories you see around you!
Stories are indeed a wonderful communication medium to get your children to listen, to learn, to think, to dream, to share, to bond, to visualize, to express and to communicate. And that’s why probably story-telling has always been so popular and continues to be popular even today.

Here’s the thing | If you ever leave your child in the company of any old uncle / aunty / grandparents, then will most likely come back with at least one interesting story under their sleeve! The older generation grew up with these stories, and they remember them even today! And it’s a pleasure to share them with the little children of today!

Here’s the other thing | Many of the new age parents don’t remember the details of these old stories. So they need to find ingeniously creative ways to come up with new stories to engage with the children of today.
Now, what I’ve observed in new age parents and their story-telling skills are this:
·         * Stories are made on the fly and in-line with the realities of today. So the characters in your stories are no longer names like Ram / Sita / Krishna / Ganesha , but probably iPAD / iPhone / Farmville, etc.
      * There is no pre-defined script for the story. It is impromptu and improvised at run-time. So no one can really say that they know how the story will end!
      * The way the story starts and ends depend completely on your mood as a parent. For e.g.: If you’re happy, then so is your story. If you’re pensive, then your story ends with a question
      * Stories are closely linked to your individual preferences. So for e.g.: If you like food, you’re story will revolve around food and how 2 monkeys / dogs /  robots were thinking / fighting about food J [ I’ve seen this live in my family, and can vouch for this! Sometimes it even affects the names of the characters in the story. For e.g.: The hero is called “Golu  Aloo”, the heroine is called “Namkeen” and villain is called “Lal Mirchi”.. No prizes for guessing how the story went or ended J]
      * The hue of your stories change based on the time of the day. So in the morning, your stories are about the sun and evening stories about the moon and stars!
     * Your own knowledge base of old stories and the stories you were told as a child
          * Last but not least, your own imagination

Now looking back at my own life, I’ve not been much of a story-teller. But once I became a parent, story-telling has become a need and a necessity. And I’m learning with each passing day…
So how can anyone build story-telling skills? Sharing below what’s worked for me:
(1)    Reading – Yes! If you read books  / blogs or even tweets on a daily basis, you get some fuel and fodder to tell a story

(2)    Watching videos on specific subjects / topics on which my story is based (movies, documentaries, short films, songs, etc.)– Again! Once you watch something, it’s easy to spin a yarn to a child

(3)    Speaking to friends / family – Every family has those “special” story-tellers who are gifted with not just a ware-house of stories, but great real-time story telling skills full of special effects (like music, actions, dance, moves, props, etc etc.). Just observe them and copy (Yes! Copying is fully allowed in the subject called “parenting”.. Even my parents said so J)

(4)    Observing the world around you – Just keeping your eyes, ears and mind open can give you many tales to tell your kids

(5)    Sharing notes / stories with other parents – Many stories I tell at home are from the tales of other parents which we’ve shared with each other during random everyday conversations

(6)    My daughter – She’s a born story-teller and can spin a yarn that makes my head spin many times. And so the catalysis from many of my stories to her actually comes off her own stories.

And as I conclude, I’d have to say that Story-Telling is both an art and craft. And as with any art and craft, it needs constant practice to get better with time!

What about you? Do you think story-telling skills are important? How can any parent learn this fine art and craft? Leave a comment to let me know

Originally published here

Linking this to the December 2013 NaBloPoMo at BlogHer


  1. Every post has some significance and it is really mind boggling.... I will make sure I follow all your posts..

    1. Thanks Vaishnavi. Glad you like my posts.. And hope you continue reading :)