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How does Storytelling shape young minds?

Remember the long summer afternoons we spent with our grandparents telling us numerous stories? Some of us can even recall the stories we heard back then. And we had our favourite ones which we demanded to listen to, again and again. Every time we heard the story, we imagined it differently. Can you think of a reason behind the repetition?

According to the National Storytelling Netwrok (US), “Storytellling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and imagine of a story while encouraging the listeniner’s imagination. “

We’ve all grown up amidst stories. Our minds are shaped through stories. Our personality is shaped by stories. Our behaviour is learnt from the stories we have related to.  We are, in all, a result of the stories we have heard in our childhood. But how?

We all had a set of favourite stories. We could listen to them tirelessly all through day and night. We wanted to live the lives of our favourite characters one at a time. We wanted to be like them, think like them and behave like them. We wanted others to like us just as the characters were liked by the people around them.

According to a research, “Our brain results show that people approach narrative in a strongly character-centered and psychological manner, focused on the mental states of the protagonist of the story”.

And every time we did something wrong, our parents would ask us to relate to our favorite characters and if he/she would do this. For example, we learnt the importance of being slow and steady at times for better outcomes from the story of the race between Rabbit and Tortoise.  We learnt our morals, values, and etiquettes majorly through our childhood stories.

Clearly, our childhood stories have a major role to play in our lives. We are what we are because of the stories we have heard when we were young. And the tradition must continue for our young ones. Oh, you are wondering what’s the need for that? Don’t we have cartoons, books and other things for that? Well, then, read on!

The young minds work in the simplest and the most beautiful ways. Storytelling is an art that makes the transition at every stage of life a little easier. It creates an exceptional bond between the child and the storyteller. Stories make our children empathetic and emotionally well-managed. Through stories, the children explore the world beyond their vision. We introduce them to hills, mountains, seas, jungles and whatnot through stories. When they listen to the stories, they picturize the scenario of the play by putting up their best imaginative self and surprise you with their creative minds. Sometimes, they end up with something that doesn’t even cross our minds.

Storytelling sets up an open window for the children to hold different viewpoints and also, accept them as and when they come. Children start to model their own ideas and opinions with the help of the stories. They learn to understand the difference between right and wrong or good and bad. They begin to question and be inquisitive about what happens next in the story and what happens to its characters. The inquisitive nature is later carried on into their regular behaviour.

Physiologically, storytelling helps to shape young minds by first, catching and sustaining their attention for long enough. The children then start to resonate with the characters of the story. This is called “transportation” by Narratologists. The children experience this when their facial expressions change as the narration of the story goes. When it’s a happy part, their eyes sparkle and they smile. Similarly, when the story takes an unhappy turn, the children cringe. The physical reactions are a result of neural signals sent by the brain as a result of the emotions they felt while listening to the story. The children uncover their reactions to different emotions and tie them together for future reference.

Storytelling delivers innumerable skills, concepts, and values in the system of the child. It shapes young minds in unimaginable ways.

The ritual of storytelling has been going on for ages and it shouldn’t stop because technology gives us the option to compromise with it. We want the best for our children and what’s better than being directly involved with them?

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