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Why is Storytelling an Effective Technique to Use?

     Telling stories has long been recognized as an important part of healing, self-knowledge, and personal and spiritual vehicle for connecting us to other people and to God. . . . it is a means for understanding ourselves and our place in the world.

     We conceive of our lives as a web of stories - a historical novel or a mini-series in the making.. . . . We tell stories in order to live. We use stories to construct meaning and communicate ourselves to another. Stories help us organize and make sense of the experiences of a life.

     Stories are mighty, however, not only because we shape our lives through them but also because they have the power to unsettle the lives we have comfortably shaped by them. . . . Weaving together the human and the divine enables us to hear our own stories retold with clarity and new possibilities; our lives are transformed in the telling.

     Stories have the potential to build authentic communities of shared meaning and values.

     Myths: refers mostly to meditation and reconciliation. It performs the task of mediating irreducible opposites. Myths allow us to dream and believe in a future better than the present. E.g. Beauty and the Beast

     Parable: Parabolic narratives show the seams and edges of the myths we fashion. Parables show the fault lines beneath the comfortable surfaces of the worlds we build for ourselves. Myths may give stability to our story, but parables are agents of change and sometimes disruption. Parables are often unsettling. They stop us from living in a dream world, call us to comfort the present, and deter us from trusting in any hope that does not face the hard reality of the present. E.g. "the meek shall inherit the earth.

Quotes from Mighty Stories, Dangerous Rituals
by Herbert Anderson and Edward Foley

     Considering the importance of storytelling to a child's development, psychologists have promoted the positive effects of reading and telling children stories for decades. It is a particularly good way to teach children realistic thinking, as stories can show children how people realistically solve their problems.

     Many people don't realize the extent to which stories influence our behavior and even shape our culture. Think of the fables and parables that molded your values. Think of how stories about your national, cultural, or family history have shaped your attitudes about yourself and others.

     Stories are particularly effective in influencing the way our children think and behave, because they like to hear or read them over and over again. This repletion, combined with your children's imaginations and the inestimable power of your presence, makes stories one of the best ways to influence their thinking.

     In his book The Competent Child, psychologist Joseph Strayhorn, Jr. teaches parents to make up what he calls "positive modeling stories" that address their child's real-life problems or concerns. In these stories, the protagonist, who has similar traits to the child, models realistic thinking and problem solving in her thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The protagonist may or may not be externally rewarded for exhibiting particular psychological skills, but she always rewards herself for being internally motivated.

Excerpts from How to Raise a Child with a High EQ
by Lawrence Shapiro

     Example is always the best teacher - and what we do always overwhelms and overshadows and outteaches what we say. But, while example is the prime teacher, close behind (and closely interrelated) are the methods of storytelling, games, role-playing, and imagination.

Excerpt from Teaching Your Children Values
by Linda and Richard Eyre

     The Victorians brought fairy tales into the nursery because they saw in them the capacity to stimulate and instruct the moral imagination. The renowned psychiatrist Bruno Bettleheim lent an important impetus to this movement almost twenty-five years ago with his publication of The Uses of Enchantment: the meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales (1975). "It hardly requires emphasis at this moment in our history," Bettleheim wrote, that children need "a moral education . . . [that teaches] not through abstract ethical concepts but through that which seems tangibly right and therefore meaningful . . . The child finds this kind of meaning through fairy tales."

Excerpt from Tending the Heart of Virtue
by Vigen Guroian

     Reading aloud may be one of the most important contributions that parents can make toward developing good character in their children. Why? For several reasons. First, because stories can create emotional attachment to goodness, a desire to do the right thing. Second, because stories provide a wealth of good examples - the kind of examples that are often missing from a child's day to day environment. Third, because stories familiarize youngsters with the codes of conduct they need to know. Finally, because stories help to make sense out of life.

     When we see others from the inside, as we do in stories, . . .we learn a new respect for people. In the June 1990 issue of American Psychologist, Paul Vitz, a professor at New York University, provides an extensive survey of psychological studies pointing to "the importance of stories in developing moral life."

     But why stories? Why not simply explain the difference between right and wrong to your children? Why not supply them with a list of dos and don'ts?

     Such explanations are important but they fail to touch children on the level where it matters -- the level of imagination. Imagination. The word comes from "image" -- a mental picture. When a moral principle has the power to move us into action, it is often because it is backed up by a picture or image.

     Plato said that children should be brought up in such a way that they will fall in love with virtue and hate vice. How does a child fall in love with virtue? By being exposed to the right kind of stories, music, and art, said Plato.

     Stories, because of their hold on the imagination, can create an attachment to goodness. The nature of stories enables us to "rehearse" moral decisions, strengthening our solidarity with the good.

Excerpts from Books That Build Character
by William Kilpatrick and Gregory and Suzanee Wolfe

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