I hope that many of you have thoroughly enjoyed dramatizing and embellishing your nightly bedtime storybook reading for your children! I think you are ready now to take the leap forward to original STORYTELLING without a book in hand!
After all, the sharing stories by word of mouth in families is oldest and most natural way to educate and entertain our children. As new parents, you were your child's first storytellers. Your babies listened intently to the sound of your voice as you talked to them, and sang them lullabies and nursery rhymes, before they could even form the words themselves. Since your children are now very talkative, and may be too focused on all the visual stimuli of TVs, talking toys and electronic games, this is the perfect time to reintroduce the STORY at the family dinner table , while riding in the car, and, of course, at bedtime.
Start with stories you heard as a child from your parents or grandparents. (My father amazed me with his safari stories every night.) Treat your kids to funny but true episodes from your own childhood - misadventures with your friends, first day of school mishaps, family vacations in the car. (My grandchildren beg to hear again and again how our dog Sparky wiggled out the car window during our family car trip.) You could also retell a shortened version of one of your favorite childhood books which is probably not at all familiar to your child. (Dr. Suess's 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins was mine.) If you loved that book years ago, your retelling of it will show it.
Finally, the best method of all is to make up your own stories, and to let your child supply you with ideas as you go along. Of course you and your children and pets are the main characters with amazing abilities! Pick a wild and exotic place or country as the setting. Use lots of repetition, and plot twists. Just make sure your story has a simple beginning, a decent-sized middle, and a very satisfying ending. Your child will beg you to tell it again or will even tell it back to you. Family storytelling, shared regularly with endless enthusiasm, will soon become the "glue" that binds your family together.