Children gather under trees at evening time, campfires in summer, sleepovers at a friend’s house, they sit on the floor after recess has ended. This is story time. Adults gather in barbershops, hair salons, at meet-up groups, picnics, they host roasts for dear friends or they simply sit in the living room after work. This is story time. The art of storytelling can take place at anytime in any place anywhere around the world. It is a strong feature in African and Caribbean culture, but all the world’s peoples and nations tell stories. Stories are told by all ages about a wide range of topics in any language. We are all storytellers. The oral tradition is as old as mankind. Greek mythology is storytelling. The sharing of Anansi Stories is storytelling. Newfoundland has a strong musical storytelling tradition. What is life without a sense of wonder? Where would we be without stories?
Why tell stories?
Storytelling fosters the human connection. It is an essential ingredient in community building, maintaining traditions and teaching cultural practices. It is a creative way of teaching life lessons, explaining our lives and history, celebrating our yesterdays and today. Storytelling is powerful, intriguing, entertaining, educational and informative. Every time we share an experience with a friend we are telling a story in its most basic form.
Who is the Storyteller?
The professional storyteller or raconteur tells stories for a living. Some tell stories in prose, others in poetry or song. The traditional storyteller told old folk tales. The modern day storyteller performs new stories about every day incidents that his or audience can relate to.
There is a strong tradition of telling stories in the Caribbean and the craft has travelledworldwide through performers such as the Late Louise Bennett-Coverley from Jamaica, Rita Cox, Pearl Eintou-Springer and Rhoma Spencer, all from Trinidad. Many Canadians will know the names of the master storyteller Paul Keens-Douglas and his brother Rickie Keens-Douglas.
Why tell stories to your children?
The most important storyteller in your child’s life is you. You could turn the television on for early morning kids programming or buy an electronic learning device and your children would probably learn; however, they will be missing the bond that storytelling brings. Storytelling, especially traditional folk characters like Compere Monkey and Anansi are used to gently pass on important moral messages. These folk tales teach us about right and wrong and what Janet Campbellbuilds healthy relationships.
Stories weren’t meant to be told through machines, we are meant to hear them from our mothers, fathers, grandparents, community elders, teachers and even our peers. The most important lessons in life should be handed down from one generation to the next. It’s story time.