One of my most treasured memories is of lying with my sister in my grandmother's bed and listening to Grannie's stories of her childhood. We heard about the brother who loved to tease her, about the cornhusk dolls she treasured, even about the tragedies that befell her family. At my other grandparents' house, we sat spellbound by tales of wampus cats and coon hunts.
A new study reports that one-third of children don't want to hear their grandparents' stories. That's good news and bad news, because it means that two-thirds of them are eager to listen. Still, I think that grandparents should try to win over the other third.
Some people are natural storytellers. The rest of us may need these pointers:
- Don't get bogged down in details like dates. The grandkids want to know what happened. They don't care much about the rest.
- Do add colorful details. The grands won't care whether it happened in 1950 or 1951, but they will want to know that the snow was six feet deep or that the sleek bay was the fastest horse in the county.
- Don't avoid the dramatic events. Don't exhume any family skeletons, but don't leave out deaths and disasters, which fascinate most kids.
- Create prime storytelling opportunities. Stories just go with sitting on a porch, snuggling in a bed or gathering around a campfire.
- Be a good listener. Grandchildren have stories to tell as well.
In your experience, what creates a story that grandchildren will listen to?
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