Try This at Home!

Marilyn McPhieBy Marilyn McPhie

Do try this at home!

Often when we see professionals at work – from sword-swallowers to electricians – the warning is given: “Don’t try this at home.” That means, leave this to the professionals, the people with training and fancy letters after their names.

Well, I’ve been a professional storyteller for more than 25 years. I’ve taken classes, workshops, studied with the best and won awards. I’ve performed all across the country and beyond. I consider myself a true professional.

And I’m here to tell you:  “Do try this at home!” You can do it, too! Of course, I think you’ll also love going to a storytelling festival or a story concert. There are some fabulous storytellers out there – find them by searching in your local parenting publication, online or newspapers.

Bring storytelling home with you
Storytelling for KidsDon’t stop there, though. Bring storytelling home with you. One excellent way to get some great storytelling into your living room and your car is to get award-winning recordings from award-winning storytellers! Many of the best nationally and internationally known storytellers have wonderful recordings. At NAPPA, this is what we do: we listen and listen and listen, and then we share our favorites – the ones that made us laugh, made us think, made us remember, made us feel better about being a part of this-sometimes-difficult world, and made us draw loved ones closer. 

So get yourself some great CDs. And don’t forget audio books. There are some excellent Mr Poppers Penguinsbooks out there that can be shared a chapter at a time – or even all at once on a long car trip. (In fact, it’s often said that you can “shorten the road” with some great storytelling!)

Again, don’t stop there. Besides hearing live storytelling performances and bringing the best story recordings along on your journeys, we hope that you’ll also be inspired to “try this at home.” Of course, everyone tells stories. It’s what distinguishes us from other species: our ability and penchant for putting our experience into narrative form. Scholarly research and simple observation tell us that many animals vocalize. But as far as they can determine, only humans tell stories.

Take your own storytelling to the next step. Think about what stories you’ll want to share. Talk about your family history: about ancestors who came to America, struck it rich (or didn’t), fought, survived, and loved. You’ll want to share your personal stories about your childhood, your schooling, your games and fun, your trials, your loves. You’ll certainly want to share with your child the story of his or her birth: how your child was welcomed into your family; the hope and joy with which your son or daughter was greeted; the decision about the perfect name. Experts say this may be the most important story you can tell your child. 

“Once upon a time … ” is a magical phrase. Bring that magic into your family life.

See Marilyn's picks for 2009 NAPPA-Winning storytelling recording and audio books.