Touching hearts through tales

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Storytelling can touch hearts and build parent-child according to Kamini Ramachandran, co-founder of MoonShadow Stories. An interesting read, check out this article to find out what she has to say.

Touching hearts through tales

Article contributed by Kamini Ramachandran, co-founder of MoonShadow Stories

Storytelling is a tradition as old as the spoken word itself. Mankind’s earliest forms of communication of guttural sounds and soothing murmurs actually told stories. In time, this method progressed to cave drawings and gatherings around fires where communities listened to elders pass on oral histories.

Today, storytelling in its simplest form is practised by people around the world in all sorts of formats, including audio, video, digital and oral.

I started to tell stories to my two sons from the time they were six months old. Children recognise familiar voices and attune themselves to regular and repetitive rhythms they hear frequently. They may not understand the story being told, but they understand that this is a predictable time where they spend with the storyteller (Mum or Dad) and it becomes a form of reassurance and comfort they look forward to.

Young children have very short attention spans, so start off by telling short stories that involve plenty of actions – such as counting fingers and toes or clapping hands – and the child can associate the rhyme or tune with the story.

Storytelling for children: How to start

- Adapting a nursery rhyme is a very good place to start for beginners to storytelling. Try rephrasing the nursery rhyme of Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake into a simple tale of a child wanting a baker to bake him/her a cake as fast they can! Then introduce the rhyme and make it a sing-a-long experience for all the family to share. Add in hand-clap actions and ‘cake-making’ shapes to make the session more interactive.

- Picture books are a wonderful source for lovely illustrations, vivid colours and images that will assist in the telling of any story. Pointing to objects and characters in the illustrations help reinforce new vocabulary to the child. The next time you share the same story, allow your child to point to certain objects or characters that you call out – this will make story- time more of a two-way activity rather than a solo reading-aloud event!

- Home-made, affordable and simple craft activities can enhance your storytelling sessions. Finger puppets and hand puppets made out of old socks, gloves or even recycled toilet-rolls can become your cast for storytelling. Stock characters like animals, people and standard scenarios like forests and rivers can all be made together with your child and used as and when necessary.

- Sharing family stories and personal stories is a very important aspect of storytelling. Remember, if you do not know a single fairy tale or folktale to share with your child, you will certainly have childhood memories you can always embellish or exaggerate to create into a roller-coaster story! Stories do not have to be true and they definitely do not need to carry a moral at the end! Young children love larger-than-life tales, especially if it involves their parents or uncles and aunts as the heroes and heroines!

My sons are almost teenagers now, but they still turn to me for a story now and then. They associate storytelling as one-to-one time with their mother and it continues to provide comfort and reassurance to them. Of course, we have progressed to longer epics and classical myths, but the connection that stories equal bonding remains the same.

Kamini Ramachandran is founder member of the Storytelling Association (Singapore). She has performed at The Arts House, The Substation, The Gallery Theatre, The DBS Arts Centre, museums, schools, community centres, galleries, theatres, auditoriums, parks, restaurants, libraries, shopping malls, festival tents, underneath banyan trees, and many more places! In her many years of public storytelling, she has observed the power of stories to touch hearts and to heal.

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