It’s Friday night and I’m sitting on the floor in our bathroom, towel at the ready. I’ve run the warm bathwater for my 3-year-old granddaughter.
We’ve been playing hard all day at Granna’s house. She needs a bath. I’ve already put clean sheets on her little bed.
But she’s balking. She doesn’t want to take a bath.
Now what do I do?
I pull out the bag of mermaids.
When my husband Jeff wants to quiet the grandkids after a long day, he sits with them on the living room floor. He pulls out the plastic quart baggie with a dozen or so plastic mermaids. We’ve had them since our own daughters were girls.
And he tells stories.
He’s good at it. He makes them up on the fly. Stories about the mermaids eating on the island; mermaids racing to Spot (the dog); mermaids resting on the rocks.
But me? I’ve never been good at making up stories. I’ve tried a time or two. The last time I had our granddaughter in the car and she was crying about her car seat, I started in on a story. . . Once upon a time there was a girl in the car. . . .
It went nowhere.
Maybe my timing was off.
The mermaid stories work for Jeff, but I don’t expect them to work for me.
But this night in the bathroom, I take one mermaid out of the bag and SPLASH her into the tub.
And I begin a tale.
Before long, all the mermaids are living their dream story in our bathtub. And so is my granddaughter.
This time I’d hit storytelling gold. Thank you, plastic mermaids.
Everybody got clean that night.
A New Book About Storytelling
So now I’m inspired to try telling more stories.
But since I lack natural abilities to make up stories, I grabbed a review copy of this book as soon as I saw it: How to Tell Stories to Children by Silke Rose West and Joseph Sarosy.
My answer to most any problem is first to read a book about it, yes?
I have now finished this book and while I still don’t think creating spontaneous stories will become my specialty (I’d much rather pull out a storybook and read together!), I feel a little more prepared now.
Here are a few things I learned, in case you need to better your own storytelling skills, too, whether for your kids, grandkids, or friends.
“Everyone is a good storyteller, and no expert can replace the intimacy of a story crafted from within a child’s own environment by an attentive and loving parent or caregiver. Why? Because storytelling is about the relationship, not the narrative.”
“The first step is to find a common object from within your child’s environment. This might be a toy, but it could also be a place you visited, or a butterfly….Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that caught your attention too. You are an important part of the story, and we don’t want to lose you.”
“The key to simple, effortless storytelling is to remain present and let the story flow. In other words, we’re not looking for a script, a beginning or an end.”
“The goal is not a perfect story. The goal is connection. Being a good storyteller, therefore, is mostly about showing up and paying attention.”
The authors give lots of practical tips and share lots of examples of their own stories. It’s a fun book that will inspire you to tell more stories, too, with or without mermaids.
Because of my feeling incompetent at telling stories, I love what Jennifer shares in this week’s featured post about three things we need, one of them being: a feeling of competence. Ta-daaaah!
Jennifer reminds us through the story of Jesus with the woman at the well that God meets our need for (1) worthiness, (2) belonging, AND (3) competence.
Read all of Jennifer’s inspiring words here, then add your own link below.
“THREE OF OUR GREATEST NEEDS”
by Jennifer Smith
Thanks for sharing, Jennifer! Here’s a button for your blog.
Are you good at making up stories? What’s your secret? Do tell! Share in the comments.
My thanks to NetGalley + Houghton Mifflin
Harcourt for the review copy of this book
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