A pair of early childhood educators offers techniques for telling effective and entertaining tales to kids.
In this parenting book, debut author West and Sarosy (A Father’s Life, 2019) draw on their experiences as Waldorf and forest school educators to present methods that make storytelling work. The book explores the neuroscience behind the human fondness for tales. The authors encourage parents to focus on the connections they are able to form by sharing stories with their children rather than developing expertise in dramatic performance or plot and structure (“Because storytelling is about the relationship, not the narrative”). After explaining how to tell tales, the work concludes by urging readers to build links through stories with people of all ages. Each chapter includes several exercises designed to allow readers to strengthen their storytelling muscles as well as examples of tales the authors have told (for instance, a child reluctant to wear a backpack hears about a turtle who wants to shed her shell). The book guides readers through the ties narratives forge between the real world and kids’ imaginative play. The volume examines ways to defuse tension and mitigate arguments through tales (“The story doesn’t resolve the conflict, it creates intimacy”) and to educate children without becoming didactic (“The story of an RNA sequence gone hopelessly awry is not so different from The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”). The book is well written and deftly conveys its lessons to readers, avoiding preachiness as it argues that storytelling is a way to provide kids with the attention they crave. The authors are encouraging throughout, making a solid case for storytelling as a skill that can be developed by anyone and practiced effectively by amateurs. Readers will walk away from the book feeling empowered and capable. The sample tales do a fine job of demonstrating how children can be satisfied by simple narratives, and the exercises (“Find Something Small and Make It Big”; “Change Your Voice”) deliver guidance while inspiring readers to experiment.
An informative and practical guide for adults who want to be successful storytellers.