Storytelling is an integral part of most human societies. Researchers do not know how long we have been telling stories. They think it could be as long as humans have been able to speak. Interestingly, certain story types transfer across cultures. For example, similar ideas and themes come up in many different cultures.
Sharing stories has psychological benefits. These benefits are most strongly felt when parents and children tell stories together.
Firstly, sharing a bedtime story can be a bonding experience for families. It provides an opportunity for relaxed quality time. In turn, this promotes a feeling of connection and security. It is also a way for families to share values, culture, and other aspects of identity.
Secondly, stories help children to develop their emotional understanding. They can see themselves about the characters and think about how they are feeling. They can also think about whether they would make similar or different choices to the characters. Stories also provide a way of looking at different experiences. Ideas in these stories may help children to deal with similar issues in their own lives. Stories also help children’s creativity. By imagining things that are far away or fantastical, they are learning how to think outside the box.
Thirdly, telling a story can promote listening skills. When children hear stories they learn to listen and concentrate on the language. These skills can be developed at an early age, as young as 8 months old. This may seem young, but research suggests telling stories to babies is still beneficial. It is thought that these stories help their language development when they are a bit older.
Finally, sharing stories helps children develop other language skills. If they are being read to from a book, they can get involved in reading certain passages. That way, they pick up words and phrases in a way that is more fun and engaging, than it might be in school. It is also helpful to read engagingly. For example, by using different voices for different characters. This connects words and tone with emotions and personalities. Additionally, reading stories allows children to hear and see words that they don’t know in everyday life. This includes practical things, like words describing a faraway place. It also includes something simple like more use of adjectives.
Overall, the benefits of sharing stories are emotional, social, and linguistic. These begin developing from an early age. Sharing stories can have a positive impact on a child’s social life and literacy ability.