Storytelling: building kids’ life, listening, and language skills one word at a time

Telling spooky stories around a campfire, recounting a grandpas’s heroism, or describing how mom or dad once got in big trouble but learned an important lesson from it are all great teaching tools. Oral storytelling is an ancient tradition that remains invaluable for today’s kids.

The Child Development Institute, in “Storytelling for Children,” notes that while listening to a storyteller, kids are “hearing inflections in speech and words presented in a compelling and fascinating way.” It can expand vocabulary and build expressive skills. The article further notes that if rhyme or poetic prose are used, it also helps kids learn how language sounds and how it can contribute to a story.

Once kids begin to mimic and master those skills, they can apply them in many ways. Chook is an Australian word for hen or chicken, and the The Book Chook, is a children’s literacy blog offering tips for parents and teachers. One post to the blog titled “Sixteen Sensational Storytelling Ideas,” says, “Storytelling skills are excellent ones for children to learn, and attending storytelling sessions given by an adult will pay dividends. Kids learn to improvise, gain an understanding of basic story structure, sequence a story correctly, speak with confidence and engage an audience.”

Family stories also strengthen family bonds and sense of identity and belonging. Watch the smiles on kids’ faces as they hear about the day you brought them home from the hospital or the silly or naughty thing they did as a toddler. Colorful ancestors are also excellent fodder for good stories. How about that great-great-something-or-another who did an Outlandish Thing or had a brush with Someone Very Famous?

On the Story and Stretch blog, Rachel Mork, in “Benefits of Storytelling to Children” (previously published on Life 123) writes that “Children love to hear stories; a story told well can communicate morals and important lessons, or afford a medium for your children to explore feelings.” More specifically she suggests that effective storytelling can help kids diffuse fears, explore consequences, stimulate imagination, convey moral expectations and have fun.

Storytelling can also be part of other creative play and learning. For example, both adults and kids can make up stories to go along with the shadow play produced by  Bedtime Alphabet, Nighttime Interactive Flash Cards. These versatile cards, and stories to accompany them, can also be a great way to overcome fear of the dark as letters and shapes dance on floors, walls, and ceilings.

Similarly Three-Letter Words Write-on Learning Interactive Flash Cards can also build imaginative “what happened next” scenarios and listening skills. Kids can use them to write silly sentences and say them out loud, change the sequence for a brand-new sound (and story!) or craft one-of-a-kind poems. For more ideas see

So store up your collection of great tales and story-building tools. The next time your child says, “Tell me a story,” be ready! You will be giving much more than a few minutes of entertainment.