It’s a pretty terrifying age. I mean, I don’t know many people who enjoyed being 15 and 16, it’s such a confusing time.
But beyond that, it was terrifying to me.
Imagine. 5 groups, 35 kids in each group – for 25 minutes each. It was Storytime!
Here’s what it looked like. They shuffled in, dragging their bags and their feet, jostling each other, laughing, yelling and the brave ones mumbled ‘hullo’.
They sat down reluctantly, slumped in their seats and eventually reached a semblance of quiet.
Then I started.
‘When I was 10 years old, my mother took me to see a witch’.
It wasn’t what they expected; immediate eyes widened, leaning forward, sitting up straight. The story had begun.
As always, I knew I could trust the stories, wooing, romancing and thrilling these kids; so used to the enticement of mobile phones, computers and other screens and yet how engaged and calm they became in the arms of a good story.
The teachers were amazed by how quiet and attentive they were, even the wild ones!
Now none of this is shocking to me, I know how story works. I implicitly trust the story space to make this magic happen.
Here’s what was so truly shocking.
There’s a time in almost every presentation that I give, that I ask my audience, so who told you stories when you were little? For some adults, it takes a few moments to remember the wonderful experience of their parent, or grandparent, sibling or teacher who told them stories.
With this group of kids the response was a room full of blank expressions. I almost pleaded with them, tell me, who told you stories, your brother, rabbi, teacher, saba (grandfather)? Who used to tell you stories at night?
They looked puzzled and just shrugged.
I realized. These kids are not told stories. The teachers said to me, the parents are too busy, the kids too distracted, who has time for stories anymore?
I can honestly say, I was surprised and shocked and it breaks my heart.
What is going on that we are too busy to tell our kids stories?
What kind of world are we creating when our children don’t have access to that knowing and understanding that is acquired through story?
How will they know their place in the world without their stories?
I don’t know what I’m going to do about this, but I have to do something.
It may be a program for parents to re-learn how to tell stories to their kids.
I want to go to the rooftops and shout at the top of my voice, tell your stories. Please tell your stories.
Leave a comment below