What is storytelling?
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.