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The Power of Story
by Joan Wink
Published by Libraries Unlimited/ABCLIO
Copyright © 2018 by Joan Wink
Why Stories?

We often think of storytelling with younger children, as stories open the door to words and ideas. Stories heap language and literacy on kids in the most delightful ways. The kids are wrapped up in the narrative, the plot, the setting, the characters, the action, the suspense, the humor, the mystery while language and literacy are free gifts buried inside of stories. Stories create oral language, and oral language leads to literacy.

However, stories are not just for younger children. Some of the best stories I have ever heard have been at funerals, when the participants are asked to share. With tears flowing, we suddenly come to know in new ways the person, who has just left us. We learn of the humor, the joy, the sorrow, the adventures, and the complexities. The person we are honoring is embedded in every story. These stories break the boundaries of earthly life, and create a lasting legacy, which stays alive in new ways with family and friends.

Stories also bind us together in love with family and friends. We have been friends with three other families for 50 years; we all did college together; we stayed connected while our families grew; and we have maintained those human connections. When we all get together with our now extended families, we immediately begin telling stories—the same stories, which we have heard for decades. We all know who tells which story; we all know every story by heart; and, yet, we all laugh with the annual retellings. The truth is that we love each story more with each passing year. Now, that our adult children are all well into adulthood, the minute they hear the mere mention of “Jack and The Beanstalk,” they are immediately carried to their childhood. On this particular day they had played hard all day; they each had their baths and were lined up on the couch to wait eagerly for Frank’s outrageous telling of “Jack and The Beanstalk.” Our four families now have one of every age group, and we cherish these stories.