Does your nighttime routine with your kids include reading stories? Ours definitely does. Sometimes we only read one book, but other times we get carried away and do lots more. Have you ever tried telling personal stories to your kids?
Recently, my husband started telling our daughter stories (opposed to reading them)…and now that’s all she asks for!
If you struggle to tell stories, don’t worry. I’m in the same boat. I struggle to think of topics, then I struggle to make them interesting. (Take a look at Donald Miller’s free eBook where he teaches you How to Tell a Story, if you want an extra tool.)
My husband could tell stories until the sun rises, and that’s one of the things I love about him. I eagerly wait in anticipation each night to find out what he and my daughter ended up talking about that night. The topics range from stories from our childhood, our kids’ births, our marriage, current events, and other random facts — the options are endless!
Even though it’s easier for me to read directly from a book (which is definitely important for pre- and early readers!), here are:
5 Reasons Why Telling Personal Stories to Your Kids is Valuable:
Bedtime remains one of my favorite times with my daughter, because she really shares a lot as we lay on our pillows together. When we started telling stories, she started looking at my face and eyes more as I shared whatever story we decided on for the night. Instead of looking at a book and the words, we looked at each other more.
When my husband and I tell stories to our daughter she connects with us on a different level, because she learns more about our life than we would normally share in our day-to-day activities. She feels closer to us emotionally, because she learns how we reacted to different events or what makes us excited. We laugh more (like gutteral, deep-belly laughs!) and often when we tell stories, and now we have some fun inside-jokes that stem from something that happened in the stories we share.
And just as we do when we are reading books, we are always snuggled up close or sitting right by each other.
When you share stories from your personal experience, your child gets a picture of what your life was like growing up or as an adult. Telling personal stories to your kids helps them see what life was like before you had kids and gives your kids a glimpse into a world before their time.
Our daughter also gets varying perspectives just by the differences in how my husband and I tell stories. Sometimes she asks us each to tell the same story, but of course she will hear it in different ways. My husband and I also grew up in different parts of the country, which provide us with different types of stories as well.
Tells Family History
How many stories can you tell from your parents’ childhood? Your grandparents’ childhood? What would you give to be able to interview any family members that have passed away, and learn more about your family history? I know I wish I would have paid more attention when I was 8 and went on a family trip to where my grandparents grew up.
You have the opportunity to begin telling personal stories to your kids to help them know your past and create a family history. Tell stories about your parents, your siblings, your cousins. Give your children a glimpse at their extended family — especially if you don’t live close to them. Have fun letting them about the people that mean the most to you. Instill in them a sense of the importance of family, so that they will in turn do so with their family.
Consider having your extended family write some family history, so you have that as a keepsake as well.
When we tell stories, we ALWAYS get questions. Either she wants to hear more about a particular part or sometimes it’s a question that has nothing to do with the storyline, but regardless she is learning to ask questions, learn more, and use her reasonsing skills. When something doesn’t make sense or she doesn’t know why something happened…she asks! How many of us as adults just stand on the sidelines and remain quiet when we have a question? Have the curiousity and boldness of a preschooler and ask. By answering your kids’ questions, you demonstrate the importance of curiosity in learning.
We tell some personal stories. We base other stories on transmission of facts (think landing on the moon). Either way, our kids learn something new whether it be informational, inspirational, or corrective. Many times, we share instances where we made mistakes (either as adults or kids) and reflect on how we should have done something differently (or not at all!). Other times, we expose her to ways that we helped out someone or someone helped us! Throughout these stories she learns morals, we reiterate values, and we help her to see cause and effect situations. This definitely takes intentionality (and discernment) to share age-appropriate stories that go along with age-approporiate lessons.
Our kids learn a tremendous amount of vocabulary when we tell stories. By creating stories from your own experiences, you chose what words you use. Don’t be afraid to use a “big word” with your kids. It’s amazing how much they can retain…and don’t underestimate their intelligence! If they don’t know what a word means, they’ll ask (Trust me!). Stop and teach them! Don’t be shy.
I admire my husband’s intentional parenting in the way he shares his stories. He carefully chooses his stories to help educate our daughter and broaden her knowledge base.
Don’t just tell stories for the sake of entertainment, be intentional with what life lessons and opportunities for growth your stories contain. It’s amazing what their little brains will absorb!
Share in the comments what type of stories your kids like to hear or what stories you enjoy sharing with your kids.