Making Up Stories
By Shara Lawrence-Weiss
My colleague Dr. Sally wrote a blog post today titled “Story of the Day.”
Sally is an active advocate of language, believing strongly that a language-rich home will render successful readers. I would tend to agree. My husband and I have mentored numerous kids over the years from homes in which language wasn’t well respected. To put it mildly – many of the kids were neglected during their early years and left to watch TV for hours/days on end (with very little human interaction). In the harsher cases, some kids were allowed to wonder outside, looking for ways to keep busy (at the age of two or three, yep). The people they interacted with were few and far between and they certainly didn’t engage in meaningful conversation with any big people.
They all struggle to read… in fact, some of them are still reading at an elementary level, at the age of 15 or 16.
The more I read and learn about language, the more I realize how strongly it ties to reading, comprehension and literacy. I find that storytelling is one of the many ways I can engage my kids in language. Two nights ago, my daughter asked me to tell her a story before bed. She said, “Don’t read me a book tonight, mom. Just tell me a made up story, please.”
So I did. Although I, myself, am not wrapped up in everything PRINCESS, my daughter Samantha loves princesses. I don’t deny her this, as she has a right to embrace her own likes and if that includes all things pink and princess, so be it. I balance that out by playing with her in the dirt, too, don’t worry.
I like to weave social emotional ties into my stories, when possible, so here’s what I did…
My story began, “There was once a princess named Samaphelimia. She had many lovely and fancy dresses. She had so many dresses that she never had to wear any of them twice.”
My daughter said, “Ohhh!!!!!” She liked that idea.
I went on, “One day, another girl came to her and asked to wear one of the dresses. She didn’t have nice clothing and she had always envied the princesses dresses. She wanted to feel pretty, too.”
My daughter asked, “And what did the princess say?”
She said, “Absolutely not! These are MY dresses! I own them and they are special to me! You may NOT borrow any of them. So the little girl walked away feeling very sad.”
I went on, “A few days later, the dresses went missing. Someone had stolen them all!”
My daughter said, “Oh, no! What happened next?”
I said, “The little girl heard that the dresses had gone missing and she offered to help the princess find them. Together, they searched until the dresses were located and the princess had them safely in her care, once again.”
I continued, “The princess was so grateful to the girl for her help. The girl had helped the princess find the dresses, even though the princess had been unkind to her. She offered to give her some of the dresses. This made the little girl very happy. It also made the princess happy.”
My daughter said, “I’m glad she did that. I’m glad she gave some of the dresses away.”
Then she drifted off to sleep…
I love that Dr. Sally is encouraging parents to start the day with a story. I have only ever ended our day with a made up story. To start the day with a story is a fun idea I hadn’t thought of. Thanks, Sally!