When I was little, I insisted that my dad tell me stories before I went to bed. I didn’t have any guidelines — I just wanted a story. They ranged from childhood memories at our cottage to days at school to anything else that came to his mind while sitting at the edge of my bed.
Bedtime stories serve as a way for children to feed their growing imagination with pieces of narration. Children have youthful spirits that long for adventurous and exciting stories. And I don’t think I am all that different now. My imagination still yearns for some sort of adventure and I, along with presumably many others, turn to storytelling as a means of satisfying that desire. My eagerness to expand my imagination through storytelling is just as prevalent now as it was 10 years ago. My dad’s description of “a warm and sunny day at the cottage” or “a cool, but beautiful football Saturday” sparked the growth of my imagination. Storytelling, whether through literature, film, music or my dad’s spontaneous narratives, exists as a way for us to learn more about ourselves through an exchange of reality for fictional exploration.
Now, I’m the nightly storyteller for my younger sister Tess. As I have grown to realize the importance of this ritual through my own childhood, it comes as no surprise that my sister is just like me. She wants to listen to stories, too. There is an art within storytelling in which every person longs to engage. My sister and I aren’t the first children to insist on bedtime stories, and we certainly won’t be the last.
Storytelling will always remain a dominant part of our culture, but we must realize that there is a crucial component to this practice that cannot subside: the need to feed our imagination through our own creativity.
In this rapidly developing world, technology is everywhere, and children most often hear stories through digital media such as TV, games and whatever is immediately available electronically. As a result, young children are not developing their visual imagery, but relying on the images already handed to them. The exchange of storytelling from person to person is valuable, and though our culture is moving past the simplicity of it, I’m not sure that’s much of a benefit to our society.
We know the entertainment industry is vast and will continue to grow because people want to consume entertainment that is relatable. Psychological research has even proven that storytelling involves the process of our brain projecting ourselves within the story being told, creating an attachment and interaction with the work. As such, we can better understand ourselves. And, I’m not sure I’ll ever figure myself out, so I’ll take all the help I can get.
The value of my father’s bedtime stories comes from the freedom I had to imagine. The way his stories were recited to me was real, the way they were recalled was real and through their honesty, I was able to connect with them. Our imaginations are fueled by creativity and it is crucial we nurture these elements. In an age where we want to make an impact on the world and develop our minds to achieve amazing things, the core of that pursuit is found in the vastness and depth of our imaginations.
So am I too old to listen to bedtime stories? Yeah, that would probably be childish. But do I still want to grow and develop my imagination through a story, just as I did when I was a child? Yes, I do, and I encourage you all to do the same.