Saturday, January 14, 2012

Snipp Snapp Snute

"Snipp, snapp, snute" is the Norwegian expression used to end a fairy tale (pronounced: snip, snaap, snoota). Does storytelling end? I don't believe it does. We're all enchanted by a well told story. So a better question might be, how does storytelling evolve as we grow and mature?

This morning I again told the well-known stories of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" (Norwegian: Gullhår) and "Three Billy Goats Gruff" (Norwegian: De tre bukkene bruse) to our youngest kids. Or maybe I should rather say, I told the story together with them. Here's how storytelling develops, and each stage is deeply intriguing:

Stage # 1: Infant Years
Our children enjoy repetition in order to pick up communicative sounds and patterns. The more the story is told the eXact same way the better the story becomes. To our youngest a story is not understood, but rather experienced. Gradually sounds and pictures begin to make sense.

Stage # 2: Early Childhood
At this stage we are frequently corrected whenever we deviate from the story path. Even the smallest sound may trigger a reaction. Memory and identity is a major part of this.

Stage # 3: Childhood
Amusement and reflection hits in. Our three youngest children are between ages 6 and 10 years. This morning they did not only want to listen, but also participate. Every break offers an opportunity to pull jokes, discuss options and reflect on alternative (even better) versions. Storytelling is highly interactive, not only told by one person.

Stage # 4: Youth
Fantasy blossoms. If fantasy and mental pictures were important, to a teenager it's everything. It awakens emotions and feelings like never before. A good story is almost as real as the real thing. Stories are a means to provide a vision for the future and understand consequences and relationships.

Stage # 5: Adulthood
Of all aspects, the power of a story is by association and symbols. Abstract concepts are more easily understood by way of comparison and remains true also for adults. At this stage, however, a story requires more. It takes time and effort on both sides to enter the scene, and some, for a time, almost lose the ability of imagination and empathy entirely...

Stage # 6: Old Age
...until stories return when we grow older! Music and stories stir memories and through them we relive important moments of life. Some of the rich lessons of life may only fully be understood as we listen and reflect on our own (his)story.

Here's a charming clip telling this mornings "Three Billy Goats Gruff" story.

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