Monday, February 21, 2011

The Lost Art of Storytelling

A huge part of Waldorf education centers around storytelling.  Not reading stories (which we have always done a lot of around here), but oral storytelling. Yeah, not so good at that one.  You know how some people can sit at their kids' bedsides at night and make up magnificent tales about all sorts of wondrous places and creatures?  Yeah, that's not me.  Actually, that's not anyone I know.  We had a discussion about this at the park one day, and we blame it on growing up as the Saturday morning cartoon generation.  But that's a rant for another day (or never, preferably).  My point today is that it's something that was going to require a lot of work on my part, and I wasn't completely sold on whether or not it was going to be worth the effort.  Why can't I just read these stories???

Well, I surrendered and jumped in.  Both feet.  Like I always do.  Might as well give it a whole-hearted shot and evaluate later.  So, spent three nights reading The Twelve Dancing Sisters.  That first Monday morning that I had to tell a story - from memory - was a nail-biter.  Would I remember everything?   Would she be into it?  Would I mess the whole thing up?  Turns out, I had nothing to fear.  Three nights of prep (and a little finger-crossing) left me sufficiently prepared.  And you know what else?  She loved it.  I mean really loved it.  Nothing too special.  We lit a candle and sat on the living room floor and I told the story.  No props.  No funny voices.  Just us, a candle, and a story.  And I tell you, her face lit up.   Every day now she looks forward to our story for the week.  On Monday, I tell it.  On Tuesday, I tell it with a little help from her.  And on Thursday (Wednesday is our park morning), I ask her to tell it with me.  Three days, one story.

So far we've done The Twelve Dancing Sisters (I believe in other editions it's also called The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes), Rapunzel, and Rumplestiltskin.  I don't know why it works, but it does.  There's something completely magical about storytelling.  Sometimes she sculpts something from the story with playdough, or we draw a picture or do copywork from it, and sometimes we tie in form drawing if I can manage to find some connection.  But really, I keep it simple, and it works wonders.  I'm reading up now on how to select stories for particular temperaments, and the whole concept is fascinating to me.  I don't understand it nearly enough to post on that aspect yet, but I'm really enjoying reading up on all of this.

***This post was originally going to be about one of our favorite books that crossed over into storytelling, but I got sidetracked.  Go figure.  More on that story next week . . .


  1. Some of my favorite memories are my dad's stories at bedtime. He always would rather TELL than READ.
    Sounds like you are having FUN!

  2. Sounds lovely, April! So glad you have those memories.

  3. This is great! My mom is a professional storyteller who sometimes works in schools teaching kids to tell stories. It's great for their memory, verbal skills, self-esteem, etc., etc.!

    A few years ago I made up a story to tell to my son. Here it is, followed by comments about how the story came together. Maybe you'll like this one or it will inspire you to make up your own story!


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