Retreating into a fantasy world

Retreating into a  fantasy world

Gone are the days when parents used to narrate fairytales and fables to their children. Nowadays, they come at a price — many parents are opting to send their children to storytelling sessions instead. These are held at libraries, activity centres or apartment blocks.

Vidya Kodimoole, whose eight-year-old son regularly attends these sessions, says that they have helped her son groom himself. “A number of props are used in these sessions and they are very interactive, where everyone eagerly participates. This has helped him to build his creativity as well as improve his attention span,” she says.

She adds that these days, with both parents working and not having time enough time to spend with children, this is a good option. “Initially, my son used to be very shy and would never speak much. But later, as he’s gotten involved in these sessions, he has really opened up,” she explains.

Padmashree Shetty, another parent, says that one-hour sessions every month have helped her daughter tremendously. “My daughter has started writing poetry and I can see a definite improvement in her vocabulary. She has also gotten more interested in reading,” she explains.

According to Sowmya Srinivasan, a freelance storyteller for activity centres, who caters to children right from toddlers to the age of 10, says, “I read up a lot and narrate the stories with which I connect the best. There are many kinds of stories that can be narrated, including folk tales, fables, mythological stories and scary stories.”

This concept is still catching on in the City, with parents slowly opening up to such sessions. “There are two types of parents — those who are very enthusiastic about storytelling and those who just ask, ‘What’s in a story?’ When it comes to the second group, it takes time for them to understand the importance of storytelling. It’s more than just entertainment,” she says.

She finds these days that there is lack of attention among children because of the high levels of stimulation. “Storytelling is a very powerful tool. This is a good way to get children to bring back their focus,” she says.

Ameen Haque, founder of ‘The Storywallahs’, says that the shift towards nuclear families has given rise to this trend.

“Nowadays, grandparents spend time with the grandchildren only during the summer. With both parents working, the disappearance of the trend of storytelling is one of the bigger changes that is taking place,” he says.

He says that any story is as good as the way it is told. “Storytelling is more engaging than television. When a story is narrated, each of the listeners imagine the characters in a different way. The only thing is that people don’t realise this,” he explains.

They go to different schools and even train teachers. “It’s important that teachers are also trained in storytelling because very often there is a co-relation between the subject a student likes and the teacher,” he adds.

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