Author: John Olive
Overview: I have a friend who is a great storyteller. Every time we get together I ask her about her latest stories. She has a magical ability to describe people and interactions that make me feel as if I just watched the whole scene with my own eyes, making me laugh, or cry, or feel shocked. I, on the other hand, have never considered myself a storyteller, and in fact found myself struggling to put together a simple children’s plot for bedtime. John Olive evens out the playing field for the storytelling inept.
His book guides parents in how to set the stage, conjure up a tale, and describe events and characters. He tutors parents in the art of connecting with and influencing children through stories. He also provides tales to keep in our storytelling arsenal and gives a simple three step process to create original material: 1) create a list of story points, 2) enrich with liberal details using the five senses 3) provide dialogue and vocalized thoughts. Though short and easy to read, this book is magical.
What I liked most: I love John’s lighthearted tone as he convincingly demonstrates the fun, memories, and skills that can be created through simply turning off the lights and telling a story. I also love the simplicity of this tool—it doesn’t take money, an overhaul of routine, or extra resources. All it really takes is a few minutes at bedtime, and a willingness to put yourself out there as the new storytelling maestro. Olive gives very simple and helpful tips on how to paint a vivid picture using details, questions, and other imagination provoking tools.
How This Affected my Mothering: I was surprised at how quickly my three-year-old daughter’s vocabulary increased as she heard me use new words in different contexts and how well she remembered the story lines and twists. I feel like just this one 10-minute period in the day helps cement our relationship. Storytelling joins us together in a magical way that just isn’t the same as watching a movie together or reading books. And I am surprised at how much fun telling stories is for me! I can tailor the story to include our family’s inside jokes and her favorite things (like glitter, doughnuts and puppies). The possibilities are endless! I love that telling stories in the dark ensures that at the end of the day, we are brought together as family in a reassuring moment of intimacy that only comes from being together in imagination.
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Edited by Aubrey Degn.