Learning & Development

Power of storytelling: How different characters can help instil life lessons

Written by Avantika Bahuguna
Published: October 5, 2022

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An ex-journalist and editor, Avantika Bahuguna is a popular mom influencer based in Mumbai with a decade of experience in parenting and community building. She has hosted 100 plus parenting sessions online and otherwise and was a co-host on the digital parenting show Nine Months that was telecast across Network 18 digital platforms and Voot.

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Storytelling is not a new concept in parenting. Every mom tells a story to her kids during the day or just before going to sleep. It’s so ingrained in our system as parents that it has almost become a ritual for many. Don’t we all remember our childhoods filled with mythological and moral tales narrated to us by our grandmoms, aunts and moms, over and over again? Some of them would be our favourites, while some would be the ones that were best narrated by that one favourite storyteller (usually a grandparent). Just mentioning it brings a smile to our faces, right?

Needless to say, storytelling is one activity that perhaps all kids love and the benefits of storytelling for children are also plenty. From helping in increasing imagination and boosting creativity, to improving their listening abilities and concentration, experts can go on and on about why storytelling for kids is extremely beneficial to help them become better communicators later on in life. And while there are multiple benefits of storytelling for children of all ages, educators, parents and caregivers need to keep in mind another important aspect of storytelling, which is the kind of stories you tell your kids. Yes, that’s right. Seldom do we pay attention to the impact a particular story can have on your child’s young mind.

In this article, we will not only look at the power of storytelling for children and how it is beneficial for your younger ones but also take a look at the kind of stories you should be telling your kids and how different characters can help inculcate life lessons that stay with your kids forever.

The Multiple Benefits Of Storytelling For Kids

Mumbai-based storyteller and communications specialist Poorabie, popularly known as Poorabie aunty in storytelling circles (for kids and adults), believes in using the powerful tool of storytelling for kids as a method to up-skill ethics, values and cultural norms. 

 “Albert Einstein has said- If you want your children to be smart, tell them stories. If you want them to be brilliant, tell them more stories. Storytelling is a tool that I use to foster creative thinking. A major learning from storytelling without props and aids makes the children indulge in creative imagination and create their own characters, situations, and find solutions,” says Poorabie.

Poorabie also emphasizes on how storytelling for kids can be a great way to improve cognitive learning. “Storytelling as an activity, on the whole, promotes listening skills, helps in inculcating values, and helps enhance memory power and retention. Strengthening of analytical and cognitive learning through storytelling is unparalleled,” says Poorabie, exclusively speaking to us for this article.

First, let’s look at some exceptional benefits of storytelling for kids:

  1. Fosters creativity and boosts imagination
    Stories transform the kids into a world where they start imagining the life of the characters and how the world would have been during that time. They even start imagining how they would have felt if they were there. The best way is to always ask them what they would have done if they were part of the narrative. This helps them come up with their own versions of the story, which in turn boosts their creativity and imaginative process.
  2. Enhances the listening abilities of your kids
    A good story would always have your child’s rapt attention and they would be glued to it to know what happens next, which can be a major way to enhance their listening abilities too. Another way to make them listen more is by taking breaks and asking them what excites them about the story till now and they will make sure they listen more sharply the next time and be the first ones to answer.
  3. Allows them to express themselves
    This is one of my favourite benefits of storytelling for children as kids often find it difficult to express themselves. Storytelling could be used as a medium to help kids express themselves better by asking them to give feedback or their take on the story during the activity.
  4. Improves communication skills
    Listening and expressing are two important tools of communication and one that enable a smooth two-way interaction while trying to communicate in public life. Since storytelling helps improve listening and expressing, it amplifies their communication skills as well and helps them become better communicators when they grow up.
  5. Instils values and life lessons

    Retelling mythological stories or modern-day stories that are filled with strong characters from Amar Chitra Kattha or from Harry Potter to Cinderella, stories are a good way to teach kids about values such as honesty, integrity, bravery, kindness, empathy etc without boring them. There are so many story characters that we all have known which can be great examples for your kids while talking of key values and life lessons.

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  1. Makes learning fun

    Lastly, storytelling is the best way to make learning fun and many experts recommend teachers to explain difficult subjects to kids through storytelling even for older kids.

Stories You Should Be Telling Your Kids

husband who disrespected her, even though he happened to be Lord Ram, which highlights the fact that it’s only human to make mistakes, but some mistakes can cost you your most beloved thing.

So what are the kinds of stories we should be telling our kids? Here’s what Poorabie recommends. 

“I make up my own stories and largely enjoy telling two kinds of stories. The first kind is – family, love, and support, to create interpersonal bonding between parents and children. They are our strongest support system, and the child grows with such values, cascading them further to their friends and future family. Examples could be a family going camping, children finding adventure in an old house, etc.” she says.

The second kind of stories should revolve around adventure and rescue or mysteries like the famous tales of Arabian Nights, which give us all life lessons at every age, according to Poorabie.

“These stories are fast-paced and gripping, always bound to get 100% attention and involvement from the listener and the resolution, in the end, inculcates in the listener the zeal to face a problem head-on and solve it in one way or another. Aren’t these 2 core values we should always believe in to keep going!” she sums up.

Expert Tips: Making Storytelling For Children A Daily Affair

Here’s how you can include storytelling in your child’s daily life according to Poorabie:

  • Playtime can be turned into storytelling and enactment. The bed can turn into a pirate ship, the rugs into a magic carpet and some toys into a monster. 
  • The children’s favourite story can come to life in an obstacle course with chairs, ottomans, and stools around the house. Partner with them and enjoy the journey through storyland together. 
  • For children aged 7-8 years and above, everything their parents share with them can be presented as a story with voice modulation, excitement and basic expressions. Then be it telling them how you learned to ride a cycle and fall or discovering a star in the center of an apple when you cut it horizontally for the first time (and make it a project for them!)

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The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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