The Magic of Stories

Fairy gold is a special kind of treasure given to some lucky individual by a fairy. If fairy gold is hoarded, it loses its luster, turns to dust and drifts through the fingers. But if that lucky individual who possesses fairy gold willingly shares it with others, then it shines more brightly than before.

Storytelling is fairy gold. An untold story hidden within the heart fades, becomes dull and slips away. But when a story is shared, it sparkles and shines, enriching both teller and listener. It is then that storytelling truly becomes fairy gold!

Whenever and wherever there is a teller, a listener and a story, storytelling is happening. Storytelling can therefore be both informal and formal. It occurs on porch steps, in the car, around the dinner table and at bedtime as well as at "official", planned performances. Everyone has a story or stories to tell and the possibility of sharing their piece of the fairy gold. "The storyteller of today is a link in the long chain of storytellers stretching into the past and future." [1] A storyteller is one who consciously selects, prepares and tells a story. The storyteller links the story and the listener.

Stories are meant to be shared. The story itself is shaped by each teller who imparts of himself or herself. Watching TV or a movie or even reading a book is significantly different than listening to a story because the story is presented and no interaction occurs between the story, the actors and the observer. Storytelling allows for interaction between teller and listener. The storyteller offers the story through words, gestures, eye contact, facial expression, movement and silence. The listener participates with actions and words, eye contact, the nod of the head, a frown, the subtle smile. During this process the listener becomes an integral part of the story.

Storytelling forms a bond that goes beyond the story. Because we have shared a story-because we like the same story-the listener and I are now friends. This happy relationship is an intimate one which carries over into other areas. Since children tend to trust the person who tells stories well, they will share personal information with me, speak to me whenever we meet and renew that bond every time we interact.

"Stories are powerful. [With every story] there is a journey and a joining." [2] Stories enable individuals to travel to other lands and times, meet new people and explore new ideas. Stories stimulate both the teller's and the listener's imagination. Stories are keys to magic realms that exist nowhere else.

When the journey from "Once upon a time. . ." to ". . . and they lived happily ever after" has been completed, some may think that the story is done. But it's not. A story will often live on in a child's memory-an experience that he will internalize and never forget. Storytelling is much more than a way to keep children quiet. It forms a link between storyteller, story and listener. If you wish to be a part of the chain of storytellers, stories and listeners, give storytelling a chance. Go ahead--be a storyteller! Have fun! Tell stories and share them with others! Pass them on! The fairy gold can be yours and you will see it glitter as it trickles through your fingers on its way to your listeners!

Copyright 1997 Rose Owens

References consulted:

  1. Storytelling, Eileen Colwell, The Bodley Head, London, 1980.
  2. Favorite Folktales from Around the World, Jane Yolen, Pantheon Books, New York, 1986.
  3. Storytelling: Art and Technique, Second Edition, Augusta Baker and Ellin Greene, R.R. Bowker Company, New York, 1987.

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