Tina recently wrote on Story Listening:
Recently on the FB page The Comprehensible Classroom, a discussion developed, with teachers asking about this “new” Story Listening approach. Story Listening is old, yet also new to many in our line of work.
Listening to stories, fiction or nonfiction, of course is nothing new. But nor is it, to me, simply a “new name for old approaches”.
I first heard of storytelling or “listening to stories” as a young girl thanks to the Middle Georgia Regional Library, at the Shurlington Branch by the Piggly Wiggly and Jack N Jill Children’s Clothing. I first heard of teachers’ sharing their personal stories in Mrs. Wall’s second grade class, at First Presbyterian Day School, where she would thrill us young middle Georgia kids with her tales of travels to far-away Hawaii. Once she even brought back a fresh pineapple, the first one I had ever tasted in 1984 in Macon, GA!
Adults have always known this secret – that we must modify our topics, our pacing, and our vocabulary to tell stories to children. Surely Mrs. Wall and Mrs. Buford, the Children’s Librarian, had developed skills to make their stories, both true and fictional, comprehensible to their young audiences.
These early experiences with story listening shaped me in profound ways. Mrs. Wall’s stories made me long to travel (still trying to get to Hawaii though!) and Mrs. Buford’s stories made me want to wear beautiful dresses and captivate people with the power of my voice, the power of words to transport us away from the workaday world. In that Story Nook under the stairs, by the puppet theatre, a ravenous bookworm and future teacher bloomed.
Telling stories to kids, thank God, is nothing new! Thank God for stories, for their healing power, for their humanity and warmth, for the bonds they weave from one generation to the next. Who would I even be now without Mr. Rogers’ gentle voice weaving stories of Daniel Tiger (my favorite!) and Lady Elaine Fairchild, day after day, as I lay enchanted in front of our TV set with its rabbit ears?
So, teachers, parents, grandparents and special friends, go forth and tell stories! Watch your words weave “sparkly pathways” as Ben Slavic calls them, sparkly pathways for your students to traipse down, towards a fuller growing-up.