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The Magical Art of Storytelling

The Magical Art of Storytelling

It’s hard to imagine a world without Internet. However, if you are a child of the 70s or earlier, you might remember a time when grandma’s wisdom was passed down through word of mouth and very often stories get twisted along the way as each teller embellishes it with his or her own variation. Storytelling was a common occurrence on rediffusion and at community centres with old men regaling tales by kerosene lamps. It was the YouTube of your grandpa’s generation.

Everyone enjoys a good story. Just like ice-cream!*

Storytelling as a teaching tool can make learning more effective and enjoyable for your child. When information is embedded in the context of a story, much of what our brain retains from the learning experience are the feelings associated to the underlying message rather than the multitude of small facts.

My mother’s preferred method of cultivating good values in a child is through the traditional art of brute-force nagging. It’s a belief she holds on to firmly even till today. “If I repeat myself over and over and over again, it will get into thick head of yours,” she is wont to say. Her mother – my grandmother – on the other hand was a charming storyteller. She would start her lesson most innocuously enough with a: “Have you heard of this boy who…”

Guess which method was more effective?

Take the story of the boy who got eaten by his own intestines for example. My grandma once said that in a village in Port Klang, there was this boy who had the nasty habit of eating food off the ground and he didn’t believe in washing his hands before meals either. His tummy grew bigger a little day by day until one day he felt strange movements in his tummy. There was so much germs in his body that when combined they became somewhat of a sentient super germ. The super germ took over his intestines and turned it into a purple worm that then ate the boy from inside out.  Now, somewhere out there in the rivers of Klang, there is a purple worm waiting to devour unhygienic children. My grandmother never ended her story with a moral pitch; learning was always subtle. The story stuck in my head till today. You know it’s too incredulous to be true, but at the same time there is sufficient fascination for the brain to wonder if maybe, just maybe, there might be some truth to it. Good storytelling can invoke the listeners’ imagination and make them more open to perceiving and thinking in new ways. This is an ideal position from which to learn.

Don’t be discouraged if you think you lack to oratorical skills to make magic with stories. Storytelling is a skill that is easy to pick up but difficult to master. Good storytellers are highly prized and sort after in any industry. The best way to become good at it is to practice. Try starting with a good book meant for children between the ages of 5 to 7. This demographic of listeners are the most appreciative audience. There are many good books available on Owl Readers Club you can get your hands on. Personally, I’d recommend books by Oliver Jeffers or, if you prefer more words, then go for books by Julia Donaldson.

If you’re interested in picking up some tips on storytelling, then the next article is written for you – Short Cut to Being An Awesome Storyteller, Sort Of.


If you’re interested in picking up some tips on storytelling, then the next article is written for you – Short Cut to Being An Awesome Storyteller, Sort Of.

If storytelling sessions excite you and your little ones, do remember to check out our upcoming events page for the next story telling session organised by us with our partners.

*Marble Slab Creamery benefits for Owl Star Members!

Written by Eugene Tay, founder of Brain & Butter and Monsters Under the Bed.

When Eugene was a young boy, he wanted to be an astronaut. When that didn't take off, he decided that he was going to be like Indiana Jones and explore the world as an archaeologist. Eventually, he figured out how he can do both. That's when he became a writer.

Co-Written by Grace Chai, mother of a newborn baby boy.

Grace is a new mom and currently undergoing intensive On-The-Job Training for her new role. Between pumping milk, changing diapers and taking selfies with her baby, Grace manages stress by writing about her motherhood experience for ParentTown.


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