For many of us who have experience with children, we are likely familiar with their joy of make-believe. They love listening to stories, reading books with stories, and making up stories of their own.
As parents, caregivers, teachers, relatives and friends to young people, we have an opportunity to share this creative passion with them. We can tell them stories that we remember from our own youth, we read to them, and even make up stories for them. We can also be the attentive audience for them as they tell us their stories.
By listening to children’s stories, we validate their creativity and encourage further creativity. You may be surprised how elastic their ideas can be. I know that I still am after hearing many many stories. Below is my six-year-old’s latest tale. It has all the makings of a story: characters, conflict, plot, theme, and a surprise ending.
The Shark and the Magic Fish By Finn Coleman
Once upon a time there was a great white shark that ate everything in its path.
Then a day later, the great white shark met a fish.
When he was about to snap it down, the fish said, “Stop! Don’t eat me. I am magic.”
The shark did not eat him. Instead, they became best friends.
They ate together.
They slept together.
They did everything together.
A hundred years passed and they became very old.
Then another hundred years passed.
Then the great white shark ate the magical fish.
So, once you hear the story, what other things can you do to support and encourage them?
- Provide them the materials to write the story down, if they are too young to write all the words, you may scribe for them.
- Type their story up so they can see it in print form and share it with their friends.
- Make a book for them, by spacing out the text and providing blank pages in between for their artwork.
- Encourage them to read their story once it is printed. This will encourage emerging readers to read new words, even though they already use the words in their vocabulary.
- Provide blank lines below the text so new writers (K, grade 1) can copy the story out in their own printing.
- Some school libraries provide shelf-space for student made publications; see if your child wants his or her book to go there.