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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Is the Bedtime Story a Dying Art



Storytelling used to be the only way families could pass on knowledge from generation to generation.  There were no books or computers to keep track of information.  Those born in 2012 are looking at the possible extinction of the paper book in their lifetime.  E-readers are so compact and can hold so much information that they are much easier and more convenient to hold and take along.  Will this change bring back the art of the bedtime story, or further help to get rid of it?
It’s not that children aren’t getting bedtime stories. They are, but they are stories read from a book.  With millions of books available it’s often easier to grab one of those than to come up with you own story.  According to Rick Polito, creator of Shake-N-tell, by reading books to our kids we are showing them how to be consumers and not creators.  Though reading books is very important in helping children learn to read, hearing original stories helps them learn to imagine.
Kids enjoy stories that are about things that have happened in their family.  You could call these stories non-fiction.  Tell your children about adventures you had when you were young.  Let them know how you spent your days.  In the days before computers and massively complicated video games kids actually played outside and made mud pies.  Use your stories as a jumping off point.  If you were once chased by a bumble bee, put yourself in the character of the bumble bee and tell the story from that perspective.
It seems that it’s easier and quicker to just grab a book at bedtime.  Parents are tired and want to sit down, put their feet up and relax a little before going to bed.  Keep in mind that your kids are only young once and if you make up stories for them at bedtime it is likely that they will do the same for their children.
Telling and sharing stories puts a personal spin on them.  There’s something about hearing stories that connects the teller and the listener.  Watch how differently your child looks at you when you read them a story versus when you tell them a story.  There are no pictures to look at because you are creating pictures with your words in their imaginations.  The stories are more interactive because the kids can ask questions about the characters.  When you read a book it’s not really possible to get into the author’s head.  Kids really like being able to find out the “back story” and will be that much more drawn in.  If you can help your kids use their imaginations they will be more prepared for all of the writing they will do in school.  Teachers ask the kids daily, to write a page about … fill in the blank.  If you have laid the ground work with your kids in story telling they will have no trouble writing these stories in school.
Then there are those people that say they can’t come up with their own stories.  They say that they are just not good at it.  You know the saying, “There’s an app for that!”  Well there is and it’s free.  It’s called Shake-N-Tell.  This application helps by providing the bones of a story and lets you use your imagination to embellish the details of the story.  The kids can help tell the story too.  Even if you don’t use it as a bedtime tool it would be a fun way to make a long car ride go by faster.
The creator of this application, Rick Polito, is a newspaper reporter turned stay-at-home dad and it occurred to him after talking with some of his friends that this application might help those people that are tired from a long day and are unable to come up with their own stories.  He wanted to give people the tools to create their own stories and possibly jump start their imaginations and get them to create their own after a while.
Give storytelling a try with your kids tonight and watch their imaginations grow.

 P.S. This post was  proposed to me for publication byCarol Watson. I'm therefore publishing it by her invitation and under her permission. See also the link below fore more information:

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