Friday, October 10, 2008

When a Story is More than Just a Story

I realized recently that Storytelling can be much more than a way to pass time or something to do when there are no books around -- however improbable that may be since I'm the Barefoot Books lady. I have many memories of lying in my own bed as a child listening to stories, my eyes fighting to stay open against the pull of my imagination.
A few weeks ago June was accidentally exposed to a scary part of Finding Nemo. The scene where Nemo's dad and Dory run into the sharks having a support group meeting is a little disturbing at first glance: all you see is rows and rows of shark teeth and there are definitely scary undertones. We explained carefully that the shark was not going to eat anyone and he was, in fact, a good shark who chose to be gentle with his teeth. Which is true. We skipped the next part where he got a taste of Dory's blood and went berserk.
For the next few weeks June kept asking for stories about sharks and Nemo and fish in general. After endless renditions of gentle sharks seeking approval from family members who just don't understand and some tales of improbable friendships, June finally let it go. She still likes to hear "Nemo Stories" but has moved back to her safe and always available "Princess June" stories.
Storytelling is such a great exercise for my brain as well as June's. Trying to remember the rules of a good story often get me into trouble. Spontaneous storytelling is just more fun! June has an incurable habit of "steering" the story by inserting a who, what or where in the middle of my story. If you've ever tried to tell a story about a fish, a princess, some cookies and a pumpkin patch, you know what I'm talking about. So, here's to late autumn nights in dark bedrooms when sleepy eyes fight against dreamtime and here's to moms and dads who tell stories to their kids. Keep up the good work! Somewhere in that unfathomable childhood imagination, there is some serious work going on. Character building, acceptance of differences, and a greater understanding of the world may be just one story away. Now that's Living Barefoot!

1 comment:

Mama said...

YES! I know EXACTLY what you are talking about.... And what a wonderful opportunity to insert your own values, as well! I'm sure that happens automatically, but you know what I mean. I love telling stories. I have a four year old who will get somewhat irate if I tell something "wrong" (read: not what SHE was thinking!).