The alphabet of storytelling

A is for Africa where we first sat around fires and made meaning of our lives through telling stories about how the world was made.

B is for the Beginning when you Build a Bridge from this world into the world of story. ‘Once upon a time’ …or..’Before the beginning of time, before the beginning of everything, before there was a beginning…

C is for Children who are some of the world’s finest storytellers as well as story appreciators

D is for the fact that ‘the Destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in’.

E is for Everywhere and Anywhere as being good places for a story to be told, not just mat time and bedtime or on the sofa.

F is for Family stories because they maintain a child’s sense of identity and belonging

G is for Giving it a Go and taking the risk of telling one of your own stories, family or made up.

H is for Handing over some of the storytelling props, opportunities and creativity to the children

I is for Imagination which is the foundation of creativity and the creation of anything new that ever was.

J is for Jesus who understood and used the deep irresistible power of storytelling when he shared his parables.

K is for Knowing your story before you begin , practising it while driving, stroking the cat or bathing.

L is for Language. Written literacy has its foundations in oral literacy. If you can’t find the way to tell a story how will you write the story ‘What I did in the summer holidays’.’

M is for Media which has become our main source of stories and usually the stories do not reflect the values we want for our children. So we need to take responsibility for them hearing better stories.

N is for neuroscientific research which shows that we learn best when we learn through a narrative: a story.

O is for the Opportunity (through storytelling) to gently broach delicate subjects obliquely, speaking to the heart rather than the head and offering images and metaphors to heal and resolve.

P is for Problem solving which can be explored collaboratively through storytelling.

Q is for Quiet before you begin, achieved with a rhythm, an unopened box, an expectant pause, a song, a music box…

R is for Relationship because when you live into a story and tell it, eyeball to eyeball, it is intimacy itself.

S is for Starting with simple stories and building up a repertoire slowly. Children are not judgemental.

T is for Temperament. Don’t forget to include qualities in your stories for all the temperaments.

U is for Using your voice with moderation . Children have vivid imaginations and only need for you to see the story in your own mind’s eye. It is easy to overwhelm with too much drama or volume.

V is for Vocabulary which can be extended so deliciously. Adjectives don’t get much of a look in during daily routines. Voluptuous, venomous, voluminous, vow, vault, vast, vermin…all veritably versatile verbiage for storytelling and after the age of two and a half, many children need to hear a word only once to ‘get’ it.

W is for Weaving wonder and offering a child a chance to dream into different worlds.

X is for X-box and TV and CD and DVD, all of which are machines. A story told by a human being brings warmth, connection and a sense of well being. Especially if you cuddle up at the same time.

Y is for You, because when you tell a story, you give part of yourself as a gift to the listeners, whilst simultaneously being fed yourself.

Z is for ‘Zip Zap Zest, now my story is laid to rest ‘