Fairytales, Families & Forests reviewed by Nimue Brown on her blog, originally posted on 7 June. Read the full review on the original website here...
Georgiana Keable and Dawne McFarlane have created a brilliant resource for anyone who wants to wants to tell stories to small children. I’ve come to this as a reviewer and I don’t currently have any small children in my life, but I have had some experience of parenting, storytelling and of dealing with children in Pagan settings.
This book does a number of things and it does them all very well. It makes a case for why storytelling with children is a good idea – exploring what spoken stories offer to children emotionally, psychologically, socially and in terms of their learning and development. The book offers the reader a selection of stories, organised by age and with tips on how to share them The stories come from around the world, and are gentle and eco-friendly tales selected to help a child develop a good relationship with the natural world. There’s good content on story sourcing and avoiding appropriation.
You would be able to just read the stories to a child if you aren’t confident about telling them, and the book has a lot of charming child-friendly illustrations for anyone who goes that route.
Where the book really shines is that it includes really good pointers for how to get inside a story. There’s a lot more to storytelling than just memorising the words. To be a good storyteller you need much more of a relationship with the story you are telling. Getting to know a story and building a relationship with it isn’t an obvious process nor is it something most of us have been taught. These insights are really substantial. Understanding how to engage with a story opens the way to being able to tell it from the inside, rather than just reciting it.
There’s also a wealth of wisdom here about how to work with children of different ages. These aren’t just storytelling tips, but guidance for living and parenting that I have no doubt many people would find helpful. Small children can be terrifying with their combination of total need and limited means to communicate, and so many people come to parenting with little experience of small children. Guidance for how to deflate tensions, manage behaviour and handle your own emotions in a gentle way are valuable things to have in your toolbox, making this a good choice of a gift for new parents.Nimue Brown