Tell me a story out of your mouth: How to share the gift of storytelling

Published on: 04 January 2018 Author: Cath Little

To celebrate National Storytelling Week, which begins on 27 January, writer Cath Little explains why sharing stories is so special... and offers advice on spinning a few yarns yourself.

Cath Little

What gift is a gift that you can give away and still keep for yourself? The answer is a story. When you share a story with someone you are giving them a gift. For the space of the story you are with them, sharing your time, your attention and your love. The Scottish Traveller storytelling tradition puts it like this: 'Eye to eye, mind to mind, heart to heart.'

When we listen to stories, we make pictures in our heads. This picture-making part of us needs practice to develop, just like a muscle. The more we use it, the better we get.

This creative imagination, this ability to imagine otherwise, is a gift that can help us in reading, writing, thinking and feeling - it's a gift that can help us in our lives.

What stories can we tell? Stories are all around us and we are all natural, instinctive storytellers. It's how we make sense of our world.

There are the old favourites, the traditional stories that have lasted the test of time, stories we might have been lucky enough to have known and loved in our childhood. There are all the stories that we've read and remembered.

Glamorgan Folk Tales by Cath Little

There are the stories behind the names of the places where we live, stories rooted in the history of our land.

There are the true stories, shared memories about accidents and adventures, and all the funny, scary, sad or wonderful things that have happened to us.

Then there are new made up stories that might begin in this world and end up in another world entirely, a world where anything can happen.

How to start telling stories yourself

Fiona Lumbers illustration

Here's a story making game that's easy to play. First, think of a character: human or animal, real or imagined. Next, give your character a problem. Now, decide how the problem can be solved. When you've found a solution to the problem, you've got a story.

This game makes it easy and fun to make up stories. It can also offer a way of looking at real issues in a safe and playful way. Often the problems that come to mind when we play the game are connected to issues we are dealing with in our lives.

So, have a go! Tell some stories out of your mouth. Tell them at bedtime, or in the car, or on a walk in the park or in a supermarket queue.

Extra inspiration

Here are some story starters for you:

  • Once there was a scary old troll living under a bridge ...
  • In a dark, dark wood there's a ...
  • See this scar, I'll tell you how I got it ...
  • I saw a star fall out of the sky, so I went to pick it up ...

Cath Little is a storyteller and writer from Cardiff. She is the author of Glamorgan Folk Tales for Children, a book of traditional stories retold in her captivating style. Cath believes that these old stories are gifts from the past and that they belong to us all. You can visit her website here.

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