National Storytelling Week 2022

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National Storytelling Week 2022

“Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.”

29th January – 5th February 2022

Do you remember hearing this phrase as a child and understanding that it meant a story? Even if you are too young to remember the original children’s BBC radio programme called “Listen with mother”, which this phrase came from, or you do not live in the UK, you can appreciate that for over 30 years, it was the cue for children of all ages to settle down and listen to nursery rhymes, songs, and of course, stories.

Stories and storytelling telling are immensely important to children as many learning journeys start with us listening to stories and we often get our first understanding of the world around us through stories that are either read to us by our parents and carers at bedtime or presented to us by storytellers. Anyone can be a storyteller – if we are lucky, our family and teachers tell us stories daily when we are young, and we might be lucky enough to be taken to a theatre or book club where we can be introduced to the magic of professional actors and storytellers. However, we are introduced to stories, most of us are fascinated by them!

What is storytelling?

Oral storytelling is an ancient form of knowledge transfer that humans used for survival, education, and recreational purposes. Our ancestors used stories for thousands of years, often using images to enhance their words or depict heroic or noteworthy events. Storytelling is one of our oldest art forms and there is an organisation dedicated to promoting it and developing it in all its forms. The Society for Storytelling (SFS) was founded in 1993 to support and promote storytelling in England and Wales and every year, they organise and promote National Storytelling Week, which this year runs from the 29th January to the 5th February and has events all around the country to get involved in. SFS is a great source of inspiration, advice, help and support for all ages of storytellers, clubs and individuals.

National Storytelling Week was conceived in 2000 with the aim of “increasing public awareness of the art, practice and value of oral storytelling”. It is held during the first week of February each year and celebrates all things’ storytelling, including magical tales, fairy lore, folklore, phantoms, serpents, pirates, sci-fi, dragons, and anything that can transform from a figment of someone’s imagination into an exciting and colourful auditory and on occasion, sensory experience.

The SFS say:

“Wherever the events take place, the web of stories will be spun with sufficient magic between the breath of the teller and the ear of the listener.”

Storytelling Week is open to all and there are many storytelling clubs and groups that meet regularly to promote and continue this ancient art. It is delivered by libraries, teachers, parents, practitioners, theatres, storytelling groups, schools, nurseries, and educational establishments through workshops and live events, and there are many resources on the SFS website to help anyone who is interested to get involved.

You can get a copy of the resource pack by emailing membership@sfs.org.uk. It is full of tools and ideas to help people teach storytelling to children. They can help you to understand the essence of a story in only a few words or identify key moments which can help children map out story structures as a starting point for creative writing and drama. And remember, that there is a huge difference between reading a story and being engaged by the tone, pace and performance that a talented storyteller can bring to it.

You can find local events on the website and find a local club or storyteller via an interactive map where you can filter your search by postcode, date or keyword.

We can recommend the work of two storytellers, Stacey Kelly and Joanna Grace who write stories specifically to help children learn. Stacey Kelly is an expert in stories, using storytelling techniques to promote learning in children and Joanna Grace is another expert who creates sensory stories, to use with children who have sensory or special needs. You can access more information about Stacey Kelly’s work at www.eystorybox.com or Joanna Grace’s work at www.thesensoryprojects.co.uk/sensory-stories.

How to encourage your children to tell stories

Here are some tips to encourage storytelling in children:

  • Read to them regularly and ask questions about how they think things’ will turn out
  • Use objects and ask them to make up a short story about that object – it could be something simple like a hairbrush or a dog lead, or larger things’ such as a car or bridge
  • Tell a story where each of you say one sentence, following on from the person before
  • Use stimuli such as images from books or magazines
  • Use photos of different landscapes and/or people and ask questions such as; “what is happening here today?” or “where has this person come from and what have they just been doing?” You can obviously change the tense to the past, present or future
  • Tell a different story on each day of the week that is related to that day, so Monday could be a story about school, Tuesday could be about going to a dance class or club; Wednesday could be about a sports club, etc, until you’ve gone through each day
  • Make up or read some sensory stories – this means adding in some sensory experiences to enhance the story. It could be something like using a hair-dryer to simulate the wind, or some water in a bowl that the children can feel as they ‘cross the lake’ or some fabric to help them understand the texture of the animal or piece of clothing. You really can let your imagination run away with you and help children learn about the world around them at the same time
  • Vary the genre of stories you tell: think about lots of different genres such as:
    • Fantasy
    • Action and adventure
    • Every day
    • Science fiction
    • Historical
    • Superhero
    • Animal-related
    • School-based
    • Holiday
    • Romance
    • Rags to riches
    • Human transformation
    • Weather-related
    • Magical

Researchers point to a growing word gap in our younger children that can lead to some children hearing up to 3 million fewer words by the time they are 5, which can be a predictor for poorer outcomes later in life. So give your child, or a child you know, a better start and begin by reading to them – and there is no time like the present!!

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Posted in Children, Family Life, Inspirations and tagged , .

Hi. I'm Gail and I'm a teacher, coach, writer and blogger who has been involved with self-development and the performing arts for over 30 years. I'm passionate about helping people to develop their full potential and I've studied education, the law of attraction, personal development and NLP which I write about on this site.

I love working with people of all ages and backgrounds and truly believe that we are all unique, unlimited creative beings who can do wonderful things with a positive attitude and spiritual outlook on life.

Here's to your continued success.

Gail

2 Comments

  1. Stories and storytelling are very important for children. Stories inspire, they give us anchors for memory, references of how this or that character overcame some difficulty. That’s what stories are for. Stories are written so that children can sleep peacefully and parents can wake up. Stories create mental images, create archetypes of enormous strength. A story about your own life, about the life of a loved one, about a myth, or about someone unknown can act as a “lever” that leads the human being to a response from the inner strength, from the will to follow, even from the will to serve.

    • Hi Abel and thank you for your comment. I can see that you appreciate stories and the power of stories as much as I do. As a performing arts teacher, stories are the backbone of my profession and I see the impact that stories have on the children and adults I teach. They are a perfect way to get over new ideas and concepts without having to resort to ‘death by PowerPoint!’ Wishing you all the best stories today! 

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