We all know about the many benefits of reading books with your child each day. But did you know that children also reap incredible rewards when we put the books aside and tell stories the old-fashioned way, in the ancient oral tradition? Many parents are surprised to learn that even young toddlers can sustain attention for extended periods of time to stories told aloud - without pictures, screens or sound effects. Here are just a few of the benefits of storytelling:

  • Builds language skills by enabling toddlers to focus on vocabulary, inflection, dialect, and plot elements without distracting stimuli
  • Enhances imagination as children form their own mental images of characters and events
  • Builds listening and attention skills, preparing children for longer and more complex lessons as they progress through school
  • Develops memory skills, as children retain character names, traits, and events without the assistance of visual aids
  • Promotes bonding between the child and the caregiver

We don't have to have an encyclopedic knowledge of folk tales to begin telling stories aloud. Old standbys like The Three Bears, The Gingerbread Man, and Red Riding Hood delight today's toddlers just as they have for generations. We can even share family anecdotes, or stories about things that happened to us as young children. This wonderful article from the National Association for the Education of Young Children has more information and tips for choosing tales to share with your child: Oral Storytelling: Building Community Through Dialogue, Engagement and Problem Solving

The upcoming holidays - with the long car rides and visits to family and friends - are a perfect time to launch a storytelling habit and build memories your child will cherish for a lifetime!