Making stories

Once upon a time.… Those words have entertained children for ages.
Stories and kids belong together like wind in a kite. A good story can make their imaginations soar, whether they hear one or tell one. That story can help them make sense of their world, show them that right can triumph over wrong, or just keep their minds open to wonder. Let’s not forget — it can also make them laugh like crazy!

Most school-age children have a hard time inventing a story.

Simply put, children love stories.

But not all kids can make them up. I know this, because over the last six years I’ve worked to inspire over 40,000 elementary school students to write creatively. In workshop after workshop, I’ve found that most school-age children have a hard time inventing a story. Being creative has become hard work for them. There are many reasons for this, but when given a little help, kids jump in with both feet.

Your family is the perfect place to let stories thrive. Making stories is fun! It’s fast! It’s fat-free! Best of all, both you and your child will benefit.

Here’s how to get started.

Read stories aloud. Nothing is better at building a child’s understanding of how a story works. A study done by researcher Barbara Eckhoff showed a strong link between the types of stories children were exposed to and the types of stories they created themselves.

Share your own stories. The most impressive stories you can tell are the ones from your own life. They have a strong impact because they’re your personal stories. It’s wonderful to see your child’s eyes grow wide in amazement and hear them ask, “That really happened to you?”

Learn basic plots. We’re not talking War and Peace. But knowing simple plots can help you keep stories on track. They’ll be exciting journeys rather than aimless rambles. And just maybe, the next puppet show your kids put on won’t make your eyes glaze over.

Create stories with your kids. Whether it’s a multi-chapter epic or just a chuckle of an idea, inventing a tale as a family is too much fun to miss. And the opportunities are endless. Story time can be in the car, around the table, or before bed.

My 3-year-old daughter loves to join me in making stories while she swings. Any age child can get involved. From time to time, my 15-year-old son and I will go for a long walk to work out the plot of a story we’re creating together. That story will likely be a book I’ll write, but homemade tales don’t have to be written down. Often, you can do it just for the pleasure of being imaginative with your kids. Use the activities I’ve suggested if you need a boost.

You can get your child’s imagination to soar like a kite. Making stories is really a breeze.

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