When I was at grad school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (go Illini!), I took a class on storytelling. When I signed up for the class I didn’t totally understand what I was getting into or why storytelling was so important. The first thing that I noticed was that it wasn’t just youth services people who would take the storytelling class. There were students from law school or getting their MBA that were also in my class (even though it was taught by a librarian). I learned from the class and those law and MBA students that everyone tells stories. Lawyers argue cases using the storyline of events. MBA professionals report to shareholders using stories and statistics.
Stories are also an important part of our daily lives—not just the lives of professional lawyers, business women, or journalists. Think about it: If you have a good or a bad day, don’t you go and tell a family member or friend all about it? I sure do. And that is a story that we share. We all use stories. They are part of our lives—from the stories we tell or experience to the stories we read or watch on the big screen.
The thing is, when we notice the stories all around us, we will discover that stories have power in our lives. If I watch a sad movie I am a little melancholy afterward. If I read a book where the heroine meets and falls in love with Mr. Darcy, I have an extra bounce in my step once I finish. Stories have a power. They can help me understand the world around me or the emotions inside myself—including amplifying or altering the emotions I currently have. And they can influence how I act in the future or who I trust. Stories have power—some seriously influential power.
Because the Provo City Library believes that stories have power, we believe in introducing stories to even the youngest patrons. We have a program called Book Babies that helps babies (even those only a few days old) hear songs—another form of storytelling—so that they can be introduced to language, rhythm, and words. We have Story Time (and puppet shows) that focus on books and stories to help young children understand cause/effect or prediction/foreshadowing. And during this month we also have Stories in the Park, so kids who have a hard time getting to the library can experience stories. We want to empower children with the ability to understand and communicate through stories!
Kids who attend story time can learn about stories. They can learn about narration and predict endings. They can learn about characters and imagining they are characters in a story. They can hear words and discover how putting the words together can make a story. Kids can then learn how to tell their stories when they participate in Story Time at the library.
I believe that stories have power! If you do as well, then join me at the library this month. Come to Cuentos, Canopy Capers, Summer Story Time, Book Babies, or Stories in the Park. Join me in helping children realize the power of stories, and the power that comes to their lives when stories are in them.