Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The importance and art of storytelling

"Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. And dreams are forever" (Walt Disney)

When I was a child, my parents didn't read books to me at bedtime. That doesn't mean we had no books at home, we did, and later my Mum was teaching me how to read, but I don't have memories of us sitting on the bed with Mum reading to me. However, Mum has always been a great storyteller, and she used to weave the tapestries of the fairy tales, when I was little. She encouraged me to read books, and retold the whole novels to me. I later discovered these books myself: Jane Eyre, Consuelo, Wuthering Heights and many more.
The storytelling in Russia has always been an art and a custom. Old peasant women in particular, most of them illiterate, have been the treasure troves of the old Russian folk stories and fairy tales.

Now Mum tells her wonderful stories to her granddaughters, Sasha and Sonia, and they often ask her to tell them another story. My older niece is a good reader, and she loves books, but she still enjoys evenings with my Mum. And the little one would climb on her grandma's lap and ask for a particular story. Mum would say: But I have told you this story so many times. And Sonia still demands it.

I have recently come across a very interesting report on the importance of storytelling. I was invited to an event in London - a lunch with Disney's Nancy Kanter, which sadly I couldn't attend but I asked if I could read the report later.

I don't have space to reproduce the whole report, but instead I am offering you a few highlights.
I hope you will enjoy reading them:

"At face value there are many benefits to storytelling: it provides quality time with a child; it is a safe activitu with little chance of bumps and bruises; and by allowing both teller and listener to venture into a fantasy world, it provides a degree of escapism from everyday life."

"But as research shows, the true benefits of storytelling run much deeper, aiding learning and development by helping children to understand complex social and behavioural situations and to explore ideas such as morals, respect and relationships with others, which ultimately help shape their views of life and define their persona"

And of course, you could turn watching the movies together into a lesson of storytelling.

"It’s incredibly beneficial to be able to sit there and have a conversation with your child about something that they’ve just seen, answer questions, pairing up connections that there are in your own lives to what is on the television screen. Those are, that’s really the way that kids learn from television. It’s being able to see something on television and then have a discussion about it. And so we make shows that are watchable for moms and dads, where they think you know I don’t mind watching this one with my kid”, says Nancy Kanter.

All of our stories do have themes and have messages, it’s one of the things when we write our scripts. In fact on the cover page we ask the writers to sort of outline what is the theme of this story so that they have it in their mind, we have in our mind. So every episode definitely has a theme and a message for kids".

"Disney has always been famed for the use of characters and storylines that are rooted in literature and timeless fairy tales, lessons and characters which are timeless for a reason. These evergreen tales are the social lessons relating to cooperation, team work, self-control, respect for self, and respect for others that stand the test of time and are as relevant today as they were 80 years ago."

P.S. Just in case you're wondering about the photo at the top, it has nothing to do with me or my family, this photo was taken at the beginning of XX C, and I thought this must have been one of the babushki, entertaining her grandchildren with the fabulous fairy tales.

P.P.S. This is not a sponsored post.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful gift to be a story teller. I loved reading to my sons and am enjoying the same (and with many of the same books that I have kept) with my grandson.