What is storytelling? How is storytelling beneficial?

What is storytelling?

Storytelling is the oral interpretation of a traditional, original,  literary or a personal experience story. The storyteller tells the tale to listeners through voice, gesture, and movement. Storytelling stimulates the imagination though colorful word pictures and physical expression. Often, the listener identifies with the characters of the story through values, emotions, challenges or triumphs.

Storytelling has been accepted as an educational tool all through the ages. Some folks say that storytelling is the oldest form of education. Cultures all over the world have consistently told tales as a way of passing down their beliefs, traditions, animal lore and history to the next and future generations. Storytelling is not bounded by one civilization, one continent or one race. It is found all over the world in almost all cultures. Long before history was recorded, storytelling was the vehicle for passing human history. Today, storytelling is used to continue these traditional purposes as well as promote literacy and language development. 

Why Storytelling? Educational Benefits of Storytelling*:

  • stimulates the imagination
  • instills the love of language in children and motivates them to read
  • improves listening skills
  • improves many language skills such as vocabulary, sequencing, comprehension and story recall
  • encourages creative writing
* A Guide to Literacy Development Through Storytelling, Florida Department of Education, College of Education, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida.

Why storytelling, finger stories, participation stories, action songs & puppet stories in Early Childhood Education?

Storytelling, in the oral tradition, is an important part of the early childhood experience. Storytelling helps young children build vocabulary and sharpen listening & pre-reading skills. Also, it increases phonetic awareness, speaking, and thinking skills.

Participatory stories, finger stories, and action songs are very valuable for young children because they:

  • help to teach order and sequence
  • teach concepts of math (1-10)
  • help to develop the rhythms of speech
  • encourage the understanding of the concepts of size, shape, place and direction
  • allow for self expression
  • assist a child in learning to follow directions
  • provide a legitimate opportunity to move and wiggle
  • increase manual dexterity and muscular control

Puppetry in Storytelling and Education:

Learning through play, listening and observing are fundamental to young children's education. It helps them to develop the many necessary skills in life. Puppets can stimulate children's imagination, encourage creative play & discovery, and are a wonderful interactive way to introduce narrative to even the most reluctant listener or reader. They can be a powerful way of bringing storytime to life; can provide a focus for role play, encourage the child's imagination, and can play a fundamental part in the repeating of stories and verse.  

Most important - Storytelling is FUN!!