Do you know a child that doesn’t enjoy listening to a story? Children of all ages love listening to stories and will demand to have their favorites read again and again. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the children in our congregations clamoured to hear the stories of their faith over and over? Storytelling is an essential skill for anyone in Christian Education. Being able to retell a Bible story really well makes for a memorable experience and brings a story to life. How do we do this? Is it just a matter of finding a good children’s Bible and reading it aloud, or is there more to it than that? Here’s a few tips that I have found really helpful.
- Think of telling a story not as something to be taught, but as something special to be shared.
- Read over a story many times. Get to know the characters. Grieve with them and celebrate with them. Then share the story as if it is your story.
- Try not to speak down to the children while reading. Let the meaning and feelings of the story enter you as well. Go on the journey with the children.
- Make sure your voice is clear.
- Remember that the children are on your side; they want to hear a story. They won’t mind if you make a mistake ( they probably won’t even notice). Just tell on.
- Make sure you have the children’s full attention before you start. Make eye contact with every child.
- Have fun with the story. If you enjoy it, chances are the children will as well.
- Props can be fun, but be selective as they can distract from the story. Make sure you practice with them beforehand, so that you will know what difficulties you may encounter.
- Don’t worry if you don’t have props. Remember that children’s imaginations will transport them easily “into another world.”
A couple of helpful links
Enjoy master storyteller Robert Munsch retelling one of his stories to some children in Toronto. Take note of the children’s response to the story and his storytelling.
Mem Fox was born in Australia, grew up in Africa, studied drama in England, and returned to Adelaide, Australia in 1970. She is one of Australia’s best loved picture-book authors. She has written an excellent article about reading aloud to children and posted it on her website. It is well worth the read.
Now it’s your turn! What storytelling tips can you share?