It may be easy to forget it in the flurry of shopping, cooking and revelling, but the essence of Christmas is a timeless story about the triumph of good. For children presents may loom large in the seasons charms, but the feel of this special day is created by the telling of Christmas stories, in carols, classic movies and songs and through the symbols of Christmas, from decorated trees to traditional food. With creative storytelling, parents can give children the gift of the spirit of Christmas.
How to tell a story
The essence of storytelling is atmosphere. There can be no better setting for a story than a cozy room, a sparkling Christmas tree, and candles or flickering firelight creating a special ambience. This is the first step to unleashing the imagination.
You dont have to be a pro actor to tell a story well. The basics are simple. Make sure your story is neither too long nor too short for your listeners. Know what youre saying and pace it accordingly. Know where the suspense comes in and work it for all youre worth with dramatic pauses. Use your voice pitch and volume to add emphasis at key moments. Eye contact with your listeners helps to draw them into the story. If youre reading the story, this is especially important. If youre not, thats great but stories need fluency, so sometimes having a book at hand is worth sacrificing some spontaneity for.
Props and sound effects can underline the action of your story and engage children. You can dress yourself or the kids in appropriate accessories before you start. If youre telling the story of Mary and Joseph and their donkey traveling wearily from inn to inn, get the kids to make the sounds of the donkeys hooves. If youre re-telling Dickens Christmas Carol, inject spooky noises when the three ghosts of Christmas make their appearance. If the story characters are sitting down for their Christmas dinner, hand out a chocolate each to accompany the action in the story just make sure that it doesnt break the flow and the audiences concentration.
Effective storytelling is not just about the imagination that the original author endowed the story with. Its about how you imagine it as you tell it that comes across in the narration. If you enter into the world of the story, you can take your audience with you.
There are thousands of Christmas stories out there and they dont have to be solemn religious parables. Kids may respond with awe to the story of the First World Wars Christmas Truce, when soldiers on opposing sides emerged from their respective trenches to exchange greetings and goodwill. It doesnt even have to be about Christmas as long as it captures the spirit of giving and peace on earth.
For story inspiration, get a kids book out of the library. Or, instead of plonking the kids in front of the DVD player, get the plot of a funny Christmas movie off the internet, adapt it and tell it yourself. Alternatively you can tell stories about aspects of Christmas about how people around the world celebrate it, or the history and meaning of Christmas symbols and songs. If you want to create a true family heirloom, tell a tale from your own family history or better still, make up your own story. Theres a storyteller in everyone. That includes the kids. You could get them to make up their own Christmas tales and tell them to the family.
The magic of Christmas is in the message and in the togetherness of the celebrations. The Christmas spirit, rather than a new playstation game, is what they will remember fondly and pass on to their own children.
Favorite Christmas Stories to Read to Your Kids
Looking for ideas for stories to read to your children this Christmas eve? You can never go wrong with these classics and new favorites. You will find something for all ages in this selection.
2. A Christmas Carol
3. The Night Before Christmas
4. Polar Express
5. Snowy, Blowy Christmas (The Little Engine That Could)
6. A Christmas tree
7. The Birds Christmas Carol
8. The Corgiville Christmas
9. The Christmas stocking
10. How the Trees kept Christmas
11. The Fir Tree
12. Old Father Christmas
13. Jimmy Scarecrows Christmas
14. The Dolls Christmas Party
15. A Christmas Fairy
16. Santa Claus Does Not Forget
17. The Christmas Masquerade
18. How Christmas Came to the Santa Maria Flats
19. Christmas Under the Snow
This article first appeared in the ‘Celebrating Christmas PDF Magazine 2008‘ which is a FREE magazine that you can download and even print out.