Educators need to be taught the fine art of storytelling as this serves to encourage reading habits, particularly among children, experts say.
â€œStorytelling fires the imagination of children and makes them thirst for more, which encourages them to read books,â€ said Deepa Agarwal, a Delhi-based writer who was among those who attended a just-concluded international conference here on storytelling for children.
â€œStorytelling is not just entertainment, it is education though entertainment,â€ added Agarwal, who is a member of the Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (AWIC) that organised the conference.
The event was meant to teach the art of storytelling to teachers, librarians, and parents so that they could, in turn, become storytellers. AWIC believes that rather than telling stories to, say, 20,000 children, it would be better to educate 5,000 teachers and librarians about the art of storytelling so that they would be able to take the process forward.
â€œIn many Indian cities, where both parents work, a child does not get to listen to stories because of which s/he ends up reading only textbooks. It is here that the storyteller steps into the picture,â€ Agarwal pointed out. â€œA storyteller would relate ancient and modern tales to them, which would encourage them to read more,â€ she added.
Tanya Batt, a storyteller from New Zealand agreed.
â€œJust like it is not difficult to speak, it is not difficult to be a storyteller as well. However, one has to do thorough research on what different cultures, as also your own, have to offer,â€ she said. â€œIn this way, the stories you tell become more interesting and varied,â€ she added.
The conference brought together storytellers, teachers, pedagogic researchers and others from 18 countries, including India, Pakistan, France, Japan, Britain, the US, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Mongolia and New Zealand. They showcased the diversity of storytelling from different parts of world and different cultures.
According to AWIC, the conference was an important step forward in mainstreaming the captivating medium of storytelling into the educational curriculum and to make reading fun for children.