The benefits for boys and girls of being told stories and getting them closer to reading from very early in their lives are often talked about. In general, this practice makes children more attentive and creativethat they can acquire a richer vocabulary and even that they can think more clearly.
On the other hand, this approach to stories, books and literature from a young age encourages them to be avid readers when they reach youth and adulthood, with the numerous advantages that this in turn entails.
Much less is said, however, about the benefits that storytelling has for adults. And it is that it is not a merely altruistic activity for the well-being of the little ones: its positive effects also reach those who narrate stories. The most important are detailed below.
1. Strengthens the bond and attachment with children
This is the clearest and most obvious benefit: telling stories to children makes it possible to “strengthen in a stupendous and incredible way” the bond with them, because “that moment of meeting is a real gift, a magical space” both for children and adults.
With those words he explains Tamara Chubarovskyteacher, pedagogue and specialist in the study of stories as therapeutic and pedagogical tool. That “magical space”, she points out, is achieved when an adult reads a story aloud to a child, but much more so if she narrates it without reading it.
Narrating without reading, the adult has at his disposal not only his voice, but the whole rest of his body: he can make eye contact with the child, gesture, move his hands, etc. In this way, the story works as a door or an entrance key for the connection with the childand the “quality” of that connection is enormous.
“That bond is unbreakable.”, assures the storyteller Amaia del Campo, responsible for the web Tales in the Cloud. “The listener is willing to accompany the narrator and immerse himself in that world, as long as he or she does not get bored, in the same way that the narrator is willing to tell and that they accompany him on the journey.”
At that moment “the magic is done -adds Del Campo-, the link that unites them forges a robust bond”. For children, in addition, parents, grandparents or other close adults “are the best storytellers in the universeand at that moment, that of story time, everything stops so that they can enter other unimaginable worlds together”.
2. It allows transmitting positive values
Stories allow adults to transmit positive values to children in an indirect way. In other words, it is not about instilling in children that they must be good, behave well, etc., which often generates resistance and rejection, but rather the importance of these values can be taught through the stories that are told.
This for children is much more enjoyable and respectful, and ultimately is “more affective and effective”, emphasizes Chubarovsky. And more friendly for both parties, because being an indirect way, confrontations and fights are avoided.
Of course, this also implies a great responsibility, since “you may be planting values in children that are going to influence your personalityabout their way of seeing life”, as highlighted by the storyteller Cristina Gutierrez.
3. Stimulates imagination and creativity
Stories are a great incentive for children’s imagination and creativity, but also for adults. “Connecting with children is becoming a bit of a child too,” says Gutiérrez, “and that is something necessary: allowing ourselves to play, have fun, createbecause that way creativity develops a lot”.
Amaia del Campo maintains that the narrator “has to enjoy the story, without pressure, making the story their own and giving free rein to their creativity and imagination”.
Also in this case, the benefit is much greater when it is narrated freely, without reading, because it can be improvised, “connect with our most intuitive part”, says Chubarovsky, to adapt the length and content of the story to each particular situation and moment. Adult creativity is “trained” in this way.
However, you also have to remember that children really like to be told (or read) the same story over and over again, which in turn has its own benefits. In any case, respect for the accuracy of the fundamental data of the stories can be ensured and, in secondary aspects, add variants.
4. Help accompany children in difficult times
There are painful or traumatic situations, for which it is often difficult find the right words to talk to the children. “Situations in which the adult feels helpless – says Chubarovsky – because he does not have the tools or resources to, with his adult words, explain to the children what has happened.”
In such cases (such as an illness, an accident, the loss of a loved one, etc.) stories can lend a hand and function as “intermediaries”, adds the specialist. “Through images or metaphors, stories help to understand or gently repair difficult and traumatic situations,” adds the pedagogue, “it’s impressive how stories allow us to do that.”
5. They help create routines and sleep better
The bedtime story routine is an invaluable tool for the transition from day to night: it gives children a security and serenity that helps them relax and fall asleep. But this is not only good for them, but also for their caregivers, who avoid stress and fights of when the children do not fall asleep.
In this sense, Chubarovsky recommends respecting the tell only one story rule. Otherwise, the bedtime story time can go on too long and not only lose effectiveness, but have the opposite effect: the adult ends up exhausted and less relaxed than before.
6. Increases self-esteem
Achieving that connection with the children and noticing that they assimilate the message that the adult wants to transmit to them is something very satisfying. As Gutiérrez underlines: “It is a very big emotion: knowing that you can influence those little people who are being formed, that you can contribute something very positive to them”.
The expert adds that this is “very positive for the self-esteem” of the narrating adult. An aspect that can be fundamental for the children’s grandparents or other older adults, who after retiring -in many cases- must look for new activities that give meaning to your days.
7. Promotes self-knowledge
“When I select a theme, or a story that talks about a particular theme, I ask myself why I have the need to talk about it,” Gutiérrez describes. “I stop to think what motivates meand that also helps me with my self-knowledge: what is there, behind that choice”.
8. Exercise memory
Memorizing new stories to be able to narrate them without reading them is an excellent exercise for the brain, a “mental gymnastics” that helps to stay active. This is also of special value for older adults, as it reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
9. Improves the ability to express and oratory
Telling stories to children is a great way to “train” them in the art of public speaking and speaking with others. Chubarovsky explains that children are “a good audience”: they tend to generate less shyness than adults, but they also they are very sincere and demandingand “the least we are not good or truthful, they are going to behave worse”.
For this reason, telling stories to children (especially to several at the same time) teaches them to project their voice, have fluency in speech, gain the attention of listeners, express without being monotonous or boring but at the same time being careful not to overdo it. “Children make us a mirror -says Chubarovsky-: they reflect whether we are doing more or less well or if they are disconnected from us because there is no one to listen to us”.
10. Provides happiness
Almost as a natural result of all of the above, telling stories to children increases the feeling of well-being and happiness in adults. “Connecting with children is something special, because children are special beings,” says Gutiérrez. They are purity, innocence, love. And all that is what they also transmit to you: a lot of joy, a lot of happiness”.
Del Campo, for his part, speaks of the endless laughter that sometimes portend late sleep”, as a symptom of happiness when the bedtime story is told. That “magical space” that Chubarovsky talks about, the way to forge a bond of attachment and affection that will probably last forever.
If you don’t want to miss any of our articles, subscribe to our newsletters