Benefits of Storytelling | ParentPowered®
Invitation by Shel Silverstein

By Rebecca Honig and Françoise Lartigue, ParentPowered content leaders

I spent my summers at a camp on a farm in The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The days were long in the best sort of way. They were days where one moment seamlessly took you to the next. And with each moment you collected a bit more dirt under your nails, a bit more paint in your hair, a bit more sweat from all the running and playing. Then you’d jump into a lake and wash it all off.  Benefits of storytelling

At night, we’d gather around a fire. We’d sing, do skits and always, always tell stories. There were the “Tager Tales” about a mischievous critter that was something like a tiger, something like a jaguar and something like a badger. There were tales from home told by counselors and campers. There were tales read aloud from “The Old Blue Book” which, legend had it, was found on a rock in the woods.  

The best tales came from Pops. Pops lived next door to the camp. By his account, he was 81 years old that very first summer I met him. By the time I got too old to attend camp he must have been 88. And even at that ripe old age, he once belayed me down a cliff and took me rattlesnake hunting. We would hike up a mountain to where it’s all bare and rocky and look for rattlesnakes. We found 4. True story.

During a trip to your local library, you find the librarian has turned into a dog. Tell a story about what happens next.

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Pops had spent a lifetime leading adventures and collecting Tall Tales. No matter what the content of his story, he’d always begin the same way. He’d hunch over and make his voice real low, like he was about to let you in on the most amazing secret.

And then he’d sort of bellow in a whisper… Ohhh do I have a story for you… And we’d all lean in, totally rapt, giving him every inch of our attention.

Sparking Our Imaginations

There was a power he had in those storytelling moments. And it wasn’t just the power to tell really good tales. He had the power to spark stories in all of us. What I remember most about Pops’ stories is that they made all of us campers want to tell stories, too. 

On a walk with your family, you find a mystery path and decide to follow it. Tell a story about what you find at the end of the path.

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We’d walk back to our cabins in excited whispers as we retold Pops’ story with our own twist or told a tall tale we’d cooked up on the walk home. Often the stories would continue after lights went out. I have very clear memories of hanging upside down from my top bunk as I shared one last tale with my bunkmate before falling asleep. 

No matter what the tale or who the teller, we all begin with Pops’ signature opener, Ohhhhh do I have a story for you…

I’ll forever think of summer as a time to carve out moments for stories. And this particular summer, as we emerge from so much isolation, it seems particularly important.

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Many Benefits of Storytelling

Storytelling brings us together. It gives children the chance to share their inner worlds, to capture their thoughts, and feelings, and worries, and hopes, in words. Among the many benefits of storytelling, the connections it builds is one of the most important.

In our ParentPowered programs, across all ages, and all curriculua, we include messaging around the importance of storytelling. We’re sure to mention both the learning benefits and the fun. We give tips and activities for using the people, places and things around us to spark stories. And now more than ever parents have been telling us that these storytelling activities are the most helpful—the most impactful, of all our messages. 

When we originally asked in March 2021 which activities were their favorites, caregivers told us:

  • General reminders on how to story tell or turn regular activities into learning opportunities.
  • Reading and telling a story by looking at pictures in the book. Favorite because we sit together and spend time together and books are our top favorite thing.
  • Story telling is our favorite. We have a lengthy cast of characters that includes a family with our last name that gets larger by the day. They are up to 28 kids at this point. Numerous friends and relatives. Even two bumbling brothers that are police offices at times or tv repairmen and sonogram technicians at others. We have a wild time every day. At home and while driving.
  • Sharing a snack and starting a story for them to add on to.
  • Storytelling/listening to my child tell a story.

Sparks for Your Families

My colleague Françoise made these story sparks for your families. Because when it comes to the benefits of storytelling, every season brings new opportunities to gather together, lean in and begin:

Ohhh do I have a story for you…

About the authors

Rebecca Honig is the Chief Content and Curriculum Officer at ParentPowered. She has authored numerous curricula, parent guides, and children’s storybooks for Sesame Workshop, Scholastic, Disney, Compass Learning, PBS, WGBH, HITN, Nickelodeon, Mo Willems, and The Norman Rockwell Museum. She has also served as a Curriculum and Content Specialist for Sesame Street and spent ten years teaching in public, private, and after school programs. Rebecca has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street.

Francoise Lartigue is the Director of Content at ParentPowered. She began her career teaching kindergarten in the South Bronx through Teach for America, and has ten years of experience working in both the public and private sector. Most recently, she worked with the Flying Cloud Institute to design and implement STEM and STEAM based units for elementary classrooms. Francoise has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College.

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