Good stories are captivating, especially for young children. Well told stories are powerful. There is a reason that all of us, at some point, can be captivated by the power of a well told story. We are made for story. We are a living story even as we witness the writing of our own story AND because we are part of a greater story. Our lives are a “sub-plot” that is a part of a larger story. As in any well told story the sub-plots, and there may be many, all contribute to the accomplishment of the primary plot line of the author. The sub-plots are not unimportant and in fact can contribute to or detract from the primary plot line.
It is the Christian and biblical worldview alone that gives our stories significance because the Author of the Greater Story has given our story proximate and ultimate meaning. Stated another way, in terms of a biblical worldview, there are NO UNIMPORTANT sub-plots, stories, or lives! None. No unimportant characters. All of life, including your story and mine has meaning, significance, importance, and a destiny!
There are many deeply theological implications, and practical applications to this fact, that affect all of us and have an effect upon all of us. We may explore some of these in future articles. With that being said, I ask you to realize the huge influence and power that well told stories have in all of our lives and especially the lives of our children!
I have been teaching for over 30 years and have always enjoyed telling stories to my students. I love to see their eyes light up when I ask, “may I tell/read you a story?” For the last 15 years we have been teaching Preschoolers to read. I must confess that these years have been some of the most enjoyable of all my years teaching. One of the strategies of “redirection” I have often used to get the attention of my students is asking them if I can tell (or read) them a story. Without exception children, especially very young children, become quickly captivated by the thought of a story. Especially if they have previously experienced well told/read stories. Do you want to get a child’s attention? Ask them if you can read them a story! Read (or tell) the story well and you will have an immediate friend who pleads with you for more.
But more than a classroom strategy, exposing children to good stories, well written stories, exciting stories, over a period of time and consistently, has a multitude of benefits in their lives that they (and often we adults) will not initially recognize. These benefits include the stimulation of a child’s passion for that which is good, beautiful, and true, developing a passionate opposition to that which is evil, learning how to recognize and love good writing, a growing and enlarged vocabulary, an excitement for adventure, mystery, and the stimulation of their curiosity and imagination, are all the result of exposing children to good stories. Again, that’s because we are made for a story. We are writing a story. We are part of a larger story. Story is imprinted upon our very being.
Two things I heartily recommend to parents of young children: (1) read stories aloud to you children…frequently and regularly, and (2) teach them to read early. Exposing them to well written, exciting stories is the prerequisite that teaches them to love the written and spoken word. Giving them the gift of literacy early, equips them to continue to love the world of words and stories. Our children are made for it. It is imprinted upon their very being.