Children are always fascinated with stories, read or told. Little do we know that when children listen to stories, they listen with their hearts, so much so that they fall in love with each story they hear. Each beautiful narrative stays in their minds, as if their brains automatically print the words spoken to them and capture images of the different places described to them. Contrary to what we think about children as helpless beings, they actually have the full capacity to love, no matter how young and small they are; and it is through love that they understand the timeless, wonderful stories.
Depriving children of stories is tantamount to erasing the core of their childhood. It’s like robbing them of their opportunity to seek new worlds or form weapons to go through life. Children grow with and in stories. They identify themselves with the characters through the latter’s strengths, skills, and outlooks. They find themselves safe in a world only their innocent selves can explain. They find comfort in the moment with the person reading or telling stories to them, in conjunction discover a special bond with the storyteller. They anchor their being to the stories that they have read or listened to; and as they grow up into adults, they draw strength from the fables, fantasies, parables, and other forms of narratives. I wonder: what kind of children are we raising if they are void of beautiful, timeless tales?
On its 51st Theater Season, the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) restaged “Tagu-taguan Nasaan ang Buwan?,” an original children’s musical dedicated to children and adults alike to celebrate PETA’s rich collection of previous productions through its inclusion of characters from past productions.
The musical calls on every parent, teacher, or guardian to pause from their work, set aside all gadgets that do more harm than good, and read or tell a story to their children. The musical also strongly reminds adults to cultivate children’s love for stories and storytelling. Compelling as it is, the musical elicited all sorts of feels, and I, as a parent, teacher, and storyteller, realized that the most mundane moments can be turned into a beautiful storytelling session, where my child and students can learn.
Here are six reasons why we should tell or read stories to children:
6 Reasons Why Storytelling is Magical
6. To promote ambition (pangarap)
Stories make children understand that their dreams are within their reach with the proper mindset. Anything can be achieved with the right attitude despite stumbling blocks that may come your way. Stories can make children realize this value.
5. To cultivate hope (pag-asa)
Stories tell children to always look for that bright light at the end of the tunnel, that good will reign over bad, and that there’s always a brand new day to look forward to equipped with better versions of themselves.
4. To foster imagination (harayà)
Stories, whether told orally or read in books, activate children’s imagination, curiosity and creativity, which are aids for problem-solving.
Before moving up to the top 3, this quote from the Walt Disney movie “Saving Mr. Banks” aptly sums up the previous three reasons: “That’s what storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again.” Hoping that we tell more stories to children to forge their weapons, namely, pangarap, pag-asa, harayà, that will help them get through life’s obstacles.
Moving forward, we tell stories…
3. To discover our heritage.
We owe our knowledge about the past from the stories that have been passed on through our ancestors. These aid in developing a sense of identity, raising awareness of a culture, and developing attitudes such as acceptance and tolerance.
2. To develop children’s language.
Children easily pick up the language that adults use, and so it is said that “when it comes to telling children stories, they don’t need simple language. They need beautiful language.” – Philip Pullman. They need a rich bank of vocabulary to express their thoughts and feelings, and what better way to enrich their vocabulary than to read or tell stories to them?
And for us, adults, we read or tell stories…
1. … To activate beautiful memories.
Have your loving memories stirred by stories that once gave you a positive disposition in life. After the musical, a sharing/question-and-answer portion was allotted for the audience, and one member from the audience shared that while watching the play, she reminisced some loving moments of her childhood. Some scenes from the play brought back happy memories, and so she encouraged everyone in the audience to continue to tell or read stories to children: because this activity alone is a fond memory that children will treasure for keeps.
Hopefully these will come in handy when we come up with resolutions in setting a moment for reading or telling a story to your child or students. Let’s all bring back the art of storytelling and keep it alive.
With Omar Uddin as “Popoy”
Congratulations, PETA, on your 51st year! Kudos to “Tagu-taguan, Nasaan ang Buwan?” for using recycled materials for the cast’s costumes (Advocate of upcycling/recycling here!)
(ALSO READ: Why More Filipinos Should Watch Theater)
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