Creating A Storytelling Child

2 Mar

My daughter loves to sing. And dance. And color. And read.

That last interest is the one I’m most proud of. Maybe because it’s one I’ve helped to cultivate most often.

Reading has always been a part of my daughter’s daily life. Always is not an overstatement. While she was in the womb, her mother was reading news stories daily on a news/talk radio station in Houston. At night, I read books to her before she was born. Stories were already a part of her life before she arrived by c-section six years ago in May.

On March 2, to coincide with the birthday of Dr. Seuss, this country celebrates Read Across America Day. It serves as a great reminder of the importance and long-lasting impact of reading to your child. If reading isn’t part of your daily routine, I encourage you to make time to read to your son or daughter for twenty minutes tonight after work or before bedtime. It’s a ritual the two of you can enjoy for years to come.

While reading stories is a simple way to build literacy skills, we started an additional routine years ago. We create stories together. I recall the early days of doing that when I set aside the books and just made up stories from scratch.

One of the stories I told was called Steve Sets Out. It’s the story of a small snake who goes searching for missing stars one night and gets lost. I think I told that story to my daughter thirty times. Keep in mind, it wasn’t written down so I would forget a detail here and there, and she would quickly notice what I left out from one telling to the next. An amazing listener!

As she got a bit older, I began encouraging her to make up her own stories. At first, she refused. She said she didn’t know what to say. So we began creating stories together. I would tell a portion and she would pick up from where I left off. We started with typical kid-friendly subject matter with her as the main character. Eventually we turned to ghost stories because my daughter loves them. I would usually turn food items into ghosts, like the potato who became a spirit and left the kitchen to start a series of misadventures.

Thanks to her mom’s passion for reading and her news anchoring duties, my daughter is getting positive influence from both parents. She’s a lucky girl! These days she often plays “news reporter.” Sometimes it’s in the studio with her mom after-hours and sometimes it’s on the way to school with me. We’ll both make up “reports” about the traffic and the weather during the one-mile trip to her school. It’s a terrific way for her to observe and comment on what’s going on around her, and we always end up laughing together. Those storytelling experiences also lead to national TV appearances thanks to a little weather report she made during a January snowfall in North Texas.

It’s been fascinating to watch her storytelling skills evolve in the last few years. As a Kindergarten student, she’s learning new words all the time and coming home with books regularly. On a snow day in February, she and I played a game using Nouns, Adjectives and Verbs. She earned points by properly categorizing each word given to her and received bonus points when handling words, such as Cook, that could be placed in more than one category depending on its use.

I can only imagine how strong those storytelling skills will become by the time she’s ready for college.  Or med school. There’s a reason I often call her Dr. Isaacs.

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One Response to “Creating A Storytelling Child”

  1. Jacquie S. March 2, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

    “Single Dad” falls short of describing you Marc. You’ve done a great job with your daughter. She already has the knack of listening, and adapting to new information, and she’s a “natural” in a lot of ways. ))_^^((Cheers to you both!

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