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What is Storytelling?

Stephanie Goloway, EdD

June 1, 2020

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What is storytelling?

Answer

Usually, when I tell people that we're going to do storytelling, they think about story reading, which is taking a picture book and sharing it with young children. Storytelling is not that. Storytelling is telling a story without the book. It's being able to share it orally with children or with other adults. We've been doing storytelling as a species since we became human.

You may have seen things on TV about cavemen etching out pictures on the walls of their caves of the hunt that they just completed or things like that. While we tend to look at those as art, anthropologists tell us that actually those are indications that they were telling stories and using those pictures to illustrate. Storytelling has been around forever. Before we had the printing press, storytelling was the only way that most people got both information and entertainment. Since the printing press came about, we have not ever dropped the use of storytelling as our way of communicating what's happened in our lives or our hopes and our dreams to the people around us. What we have done is shifted a lot of the sharing of the made-up stories to TV and to other media.  

Storytelling is ordinary. We do it all the time. It takes no resources or fancy equipment. It's just what comes out of us naturally. The effects of that, especially on young children, is truly magical. 

 

This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course, The Ordinary Magic of Storytelling, presented by Stephanie Goloway, EdD.


stephanie goloway

Stephanie Goloway, EdD

Dr. Stephanie Goloway is a lifelong advocate for the power of imagination, play, and storytelling. She is a professor emeritus of early education and child development at the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Prior to that, she taught in childcare, elementary school, and special education settings. She has been the director of both a college lab preschool and an early intervention center and has worked as a children's librarian and professional storyteller. Stephanie holds an EdD in Early Childhood from Walden University, where she researched how fairytales, storytelling, and Vivian Paley's pedagogy could impact both resilience and emergent literacy in young children, especially those living with substance use disorders and other forms of trauma. She is the author of an upcoming Redleaf Press book about using fairytales to nurture children's resilience in the early childhood classroom.


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