A good story, in addition to being funny, helps to discover the ambivalence of feelings, recognize attitudes and useful resources to face a problem.
Telling stories is an activity that dates back to the dawn of humanity. From the ancient myths and legends of each culture transmitted orally from generation to generation, to modern tales and in the most contemporary formats, many centuries have passed and, nevertheless, it is one of the few traditions that has been fully maintained. vigor.
Obviously, the stories have evolved but they have always had a point in common. That point is to let flow through each of the narratives a moral, an explanation or an underlying form of message that raises and responds to the questions of each generation.
Children’s stories change depending on the society and the concerns of the moment in which they are created, but that does not prevent that currently some stories considered classic coexist with others according to current needs, such as explaining to children the birth of a little brother, the death of a relative or the importance of respecting nature.
STORIES HELP PSYCHIC DEVELOPMENT: FANTASY AS A VEHICLE
Beyond the content of each of these stories, the fact of telling a story also has a kind of magic since it allows the child, induced by the voice of the adult, to immerse himself in an imaginary world, to identify with the protagonists of the story and feel the same feelings and sensations as those characters.
In turn, this possibility of moving with fantasy stimulates children’s creativity and the desire to learn new stories, which opens the possibility that they begin to appreciate the value of reading and later seek it for themselves.
Children often ask questions about what they hear and through these questions it is possible to discover their inner world, their fantasies and their fears. They do not usually talk about all these issues directly, but due to the influence of the story they can emerge spontaneously. The stories, therefore, in addition to providing entertainment, constitute a source of benefits for the psychological and emotional development of children, among which the following stand out:
- While listening to a story, the child improves his capacity for attention, concentration and reflection, since lulled by the voice of the parents he learns to follow the story while ignoring any other stimulus.
- The stories promote the richness of vocabulary and expression in general, as well as their ability to memorize.
- Increases their capacity for understanding and imagination, which results in their intellectual development.
- They enhance the parent-child relationship, as they improve communication, affection and trust within the family. The moment of hearing a story is special for the child, since he feels important to his parents, so much so that they postpone their occupations and dedicate part of their time to them.
- They teach the richness of feelings. Through the characters they will know goodness and evil, love and hate, tenderness, appreciation, justice, boredom and fun, They will also appreciate the nuances and ambivalence of all these feelings, how easy which is to move from one to another.
- By identifying with what happens to the protagonists and seeing how they solve the problems that appear to them, the child discovers that they have fears similar to his own and they manage to find resources to overcome them. That is why it is possible to hear them say “That also happens to me” while listening to a story.
HOW TO CHOOSE A GOOD CHILDREN’S STORY
Currently there is a wide variety of children’s stories, which allows you to choose the ideal story for each occasion or need. This classification can help you choose:
- Traditional tales. They tend to be tales of wonderful adventures set in vague places (in a very distant country) and at indeterminate times (once upon a time).
- Fables. They are storying whose protagonists are usually always animals that behave and have human characteristics, and whose function is to transmit a teaching or moral.
- Fantastic tales. They are stories located in a real and everyday setting in which the imaginary or inexplicable is introduced at some point to impress the reader (werewolves, vampires, apparitions, changes of time and space). The inexplicable and paranormal nature of the story, which usually carries a certain degree of tension and some fear, makes them advisable for older children.
- Didactic or educational stories. They serve as support in certain circumstances of the life of a child, such as the death of a loved one, the separation of parents, an illness, A second aspect of this type of stories is the one that serves to transmit values such as friendship, respect for nature or cultural diversity, etc.
- Youth novels. They approach the adult genre but with themes appropriate to the adolescent problem.
From the outset we can say that a story does not know ages, and that is precisely one of its great things: a good story can be attractive even to an adult.
However, it is true that currently the large number of stories and the variety of formats in which they are published allow the appropriate choice, both for its structure and its content, a story for each age.
In any case, this choice must also take into account the interests of the child, their capacity for understanding and their psychological development, since in the end what matters is that the child feels attracted by the story and can enjoy it with little clarification.
- Up to three years of age, and taking into account the overall evolution of the child, it can be said that the voice of the parents, their rhythm, their gestures and their interpretation are more important than the story itself. At these ages they can sing an improvised song or comment on the different drawings and colors that parade before their eyes, but the important thing is that parents become actors for their children.
- From the age of three, it is advisable to choose short stories, with a linear development, few characters and a simple language understandable to them. From then on, an age is entered when children begin to know and become interested in the real world; however, it is easier for them to approach that world of sensations and feelings that they are discovering through fantastic stories, with characters that have powers and objects that speak and take on a life of their own.
- From the age of five or six, the child’s preferences are inclined towards real situations and characters with which he can identify and in which he can project his feelings.
- Around the age of seven or eight, children begin to develop their moral conscience, to distinguish the good from the bad, friends and enemies, which means that although they continue to like fantastic stories, they are increasingly opting for stories and characters from adventure. Aided by these adventures we can deal with them values such as empathy, solidarity, love.
- Around twelve years of age, children are governed by a more abstract and symbolic thought, where mystery and the supernatural fascinate them. Collections of novels focused on this theme abound in bookstores.
But it is also the age at which emotional conflicts arise, problems with relationships with peers, first loves, All these situations can be found according to preadolescence in more realistic books that describe situations similar to those of the child’s social environment.
HOW TO TELL A STORY WELL?
Anyone is capable of telling a story and attracting the attention of a child; The essential ingredients for a good reading are: a dose of affection, another of time and the willingness to let ourselves be carried away by the story we read or, even, by which we can invent ourselves.
The experience of telling a story should include both the reading of the text and its non-verbal interpretation in the form of bodily expressiveness. To do this, hand and body movements and voice modulations are used, giving each scene the right tone: intrigue, surprise, joy, sorrow.
Thanks to this, the child sees that the adult is fully involved in the story and this manages to captivate him with the story. If he perceives that we read routinely, as if we were distracted by a newspaper and he does not notice interest on our part, the child will also become disinterested and bored.
It is convenient to be attentive to the reactions of the child, see if he follows the story carefully or disregards it. You can make him participate in the development with an occasional question in order to adapt the story to his degree of attention.
The ideal time to tell a story is bedtime as the story will act as a tranquilizer, break the hectic pace of the day, and help your child fall asleep more easily.
In any case, it is not advisable to limit yourself only to that period of the day to tell a story: it can be done while taking a car trip, when you are hiking in the mountains, lying on the sand on the beach, sitting under a tree. With the story, these activities will be much more enjoyable.
Any moment can be used with the sole prevention of taking care of the theme. At night it is better to tell relaxing and calm stories to facilitate sleep; During the day, more exciting stories can be used to attract their attention and amuse them.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE STORIES TO GET TO KNOW THE CHILDREN BETTER
After the story, talking with the children about the story we have shared allows for a constructive dialogue with them.
The post-story talk does not aim to show the adult’s vision of the story, but rather to let the child develop his imagination and with his explanations he can project his feelings. That way we can get to know your inner world better.
To help them talk about the story, it is not advisable to ask very general questions such as: What did you think of the story? or did you like it? It is preferable to ask more direct and specific questions about the story, such as:
- Which character did you find the most likeable? Why?
- Did you expect that ending?
- How would you like the story to have ended?
- If you were this or that character, what would you have done?
- Is there a part of the story that you liked the most? Why?
- What did you think of the title? Would you have titled it differently?
- Why do you think this character did that?
When it comes to didactic stories that have been used for something specific, such as explaining a death, an illness, etc., it is convenient to take advantage of this dialogue so that the child talks about their specific feelings in this regard through their identification with the protagonists.
In the case of older children, we can also ask them about the message they think the story conveys, if they have understood it, if they liked the way it develops and, even, encourage them, based on that same message, to write they also a story.
“TELL ME AGAIN”
Some parents are surprised by the fact that their children ask them again and again for the same story, and they do not understand how they do not get tired or bored of always hearing the same story.
The reason for this repetition is not so much the taste of the story itself, but that, on the one hand, through this repetition the children gradually understand and internalize its meaning and, on the other, that before the new story, as already They get to know the progressive outcome that they have liked so much, they anticipate that outcome and enjoy knowing in advance what is going to happen.
That is why many times they interrupt the story saying that now this or that thing is going to happen, as if they themselves wrote it.