I love to read aloud to children. If I weren’t a teacher, I imagine myself happily being a children’s book librarian. When I retire, you will probably find me being a volunteer story reader at Nicola’s Books. But as much as I love to read great picture books and chapter books, the children are never so engaged as when I simply TELL a story.
Very occasionally I’ll tell a story I’ve memorized – a “real” story, like a folk tale or a Robert Munsch story. But mostly I tell personal stories from my own experience. It amuses and amazes me that children want to hear these stories again and again. For instance, today I told the tale (yet again) of the time my neighbor friend and I dug up some bones in the backyard when I was about 7. We were so excited to find “ancient Indian bones” and rushed to show my parents our archeologically important find. However, after seeing the burial site, my mom announced that, unfortunately, we had simply dug up the bones of a family pet. Another popular tale is when I wet my pants in school, due to an overly strict and bullying teacher. The children shudder with horror and delight, and rush to pet my arm and comfort me after hearing it.
Telling stories is so important to children. It encourages them to tell their own stories as if they mattered. This mutual telling and listening is such a happy experience, and there is joy in the connection. A told story is different that a story that is read, because that is simply reporting a story told in a book – it doesn’t come from the true source. It produces a particular feeling of well-being and connectedness. Try it soon, and see if you don't agree.