It was a fresh and sunny Sunday morning. I was in a library surrounded by children for a storytelling workshop. After an initial warm up, I started telling a story. There were giggles and laughter around the room. After a few minutes, I asked them if they knew the story. A few of them said – yes. A few of them were not very sure. So, the children who were puzzled said it could be the story of the monkey and the crocodile. Yes! It was, so what was the big deal?
Here it comes – the whole story was presented using only actions, expressions and movements. Later in the workshop we had a blast. The whole group came up with brilliant ideas on telling stories. A story using dance movements, a story using only pictures, a story using paper and paper folding, telling a story under a tree, under the moonlight, while travelling, using clay, using puppets, etc. Later the children took over the workshop. I did not get a chance to tell any story. I was terribly disappointed! After all, I was itching to tell them stories and here I was getting bombarded by hundreds of stories by the children!
The perception that storytelling is a dying art because of the growth of nuclear families does not seem to hold water. Why do we need to tell stories to children? I have been working with children, telling them stories and finally realized that children don’t need to listen to my stories, because they love making up their own.
Let me start with my journey. I am a mother of two girls and I used to be always eager to buy fancy western, pop-up books for my daughters. However, I didn’t know my daughters loved reading stories from real life. They loved to watch the leaf falling from the tree, they loved talking to the dog on the street and making stories about his family, they loved making up stories about the moon, flowers, fruits, bus, trains and what not. If I could have just listened to them I could have saved some money!