Monday, March 4, 2013

#ReadItMD13 - "Stories we make up and tell our children"

For this week's theme we thought we'd take a look at the stories parents tell their children that can't be found in books.

At some point, parents may be stuck in the middle of nowhere - or be unable to reach into their capacious bookcases to grab a book to entertain their children with, so we resort to making things up on the fly. Parents are natural storytellers - we impart our wisdom to our children on a daily basis (usually in the form of "Don't do that" or "No that's not supposed to go in your mouth" or even "Wet Paint is NOT an instruction!") so is it much of a stretch to turn your good advice into a little moral tale perhaps?

Our imaginations are boundless and if you can use yours to feed your child a good story, the chances are they'll reply in kind.

For a long time I've made up daft little stories about a character named "Merlin the Happy Pig". Often "Merlin" is used as a bit of a lure. If Charlotte is taking ages over breakfast, or I can't get her to go and get ready in the morning, I'll promise her a "Merlin" story. Making a rod for your own back isn't always advisable though because you can never get away with "Merlin the Happy Pig went into town one day, bought some sweeties and then came home, the end" - You sometimes get stuck in a loop of making the stories more complex, more convoluted and (usually, because Charlotte is obsessed with spooky stuff) more scary.

So Merlin, the rather haphazard little piggy fellow has morphed from a character who usually did really silly things (like eating too many lemon drops and needing trips to the dentist) into some sort of globetrotting ghostbuster.

I recently changed tack a bit after we got bored with trying to think up ever-increasingly dangerous situations to put Merlin in, and drew on my love of fantasy and science fiction to come up with another character for a set of made up stories, called "Epona" - A beautiful white horse who lives in a magical land - as a bit more of a 'girl friendly' story. Again Charlotte always demands that the stories are packed with adventure, excitement and magic but we bounce ideas off each other and often stories can last a lot longer than reading a quick picture book can.

As an incentive for hurrying up, getting ready, polishing off a meal, made up stories have become a reward - but a reward that doesn't cost anything, and doesn't rot their teeth (like a sweet reward would) - and one that also gives them something to start building their own story library in their heads.

It's not easy, and not everyone will be able to just pull a story out of thin air - but you can always cheat a bit by drawing on your own story influences, old wives tales, myths and legends - or just re-version a story you know and love yourself.

Try it, you'll be pleasantly surprised at the reaction.

Think you've got a great story to tell and can do it in less than 100 words?

Enter our competition, in conjunction with Child's Play Publishing!


Georgia Warley-Cummings said...

A story that is no more than 100 words is called a 'drabble', in case you didn't know. And yes, I have done a few and they're extremely difficult. :P

ReadItDaddy said...

Interesting to know. I think I should've made it a bit clearer that we're after people giving us a flavour of the sort of stories they tell, or just a bit about how they read and how they began to read to their children. Drabbles also welcome, I love that word!