The benefits of reading books to children are well known, but making up stories for and with them is the pinnacle of care and teaching.
The good news is, it isn’t about telling a perfect story. Instead, it’s about giving interactive attention to the children, creating memories, passing on morals and culture that are important to you and them, and fostering their imagination in a relaxing and positive context. The children develop their creative and critical thinking skills as they try to picture the story being told and wonder about the characters and ask about the reasons for things. When they can participate and choose the characters or what happens next, their thirst for learning is developed.
In addition, making up stories with them develops their confidence and resilience, it can help them relax before bed, and the adult can benefit too – because children’s imaginations are inspiring and off the charts. The verbal interaction with the child or children helps with their language and logic skills, expands their vocabulary, and introduces them to new ideas.
If you’re tired at the end of the day, it’s okay – get the children to do the work and ask them what happens next, which you can then modify. That sort of questioning helps them with their prediction and analytical skills. Stories can be totally fantastical, or they can come from your own experiences, from your culture or from family history. Aim to be expressive when telling the stories, and use different voices.
My mum told me stories when I was a kid. I think she enjoyed the journey they took her on as well. What follows is one of the stories she told, then later wrote up. It’s full of the defiant positivity, dreaming, and hope that she embodies.