Reading books may be a large path to literacy but the path is wider when it’s supported by other paths leading into it. Music is one of those and so is storytelling. A recent article in The Atlantic talks about why it’s a good thing that parents tell their kids stories about the times they were growing up and adventures about their extended family. The article draws on research conducted in the last couple of decades and talks about the benefits to children.
It’s easy to forget that storytelling was the main way history and knowledge was passed along before books were in wide circulation. Even though we may no longer need to get information important to our physical survival that way, family stories can provide emotional support, as evidenced by the researchers’ cited findings that “adolescents with a stronger knowledge of family history have more robust identities, better coping skills, and lower rates of depression and anxiety.”
You may already be telling family stories to your kids on a regular basis, but the holidays, with their focus on tradition, can provide a good starting point to begin talking about events from the past or find new opportunities to do so. With older kids, you can even tell stories about the past they remember. Look at family videos and photos for inspiration and see where the conversation takes you. Sometimes you’ll even be surprised to find that you children place importance to details that didn’t even get your attention from family events in the past. Stories of any kind, whether fictional from a book or real from memory have the power to provide connection and conversation.