Friday, April 20, 2012

Storytelling With Illustrations

Illustrating for storytelling

Storytelling is a staple activity in our household. It adapts well and often serves as a springboard for other activities. It's one of our favorite past-times and the benefits are numerous. Storytelling, by itself, is a wonderful way to connect with your children and it's a ton of fun. Imaginations are flexed and stretched by the power of your words. It's truly amazing. Lately, we've been adding onto the experience by illustrating our stories. It does not take the place of storytelling with words alone, but it is a wonderful change of pace with it's own pleasures and benefits.

R delights in telling his own stories and has come to love illustrating them as well. He gathers us around his easel and sets to work. He names his story in advance and sets the stage. He draws a little and then speaks. We hang on his words and his pictures. And his actions. As he draws, he further engrosses himself into his story. He begins to act out emotions. He's not reciting. He is storytelling. It's absolutely wonderful to watch.

Acting out the emotions during storytelling with illustrations
Emoting during storytelling. 

I love seeing his stories evolve along with his artwork. I adore getting a glimpse into his active imagination. He knows he's entertaining us, but I'm not sure he grasps just how much.

And he's learning. While we are being entertained. While we are bonding. He is learning.

Tips For Your Family

  • Use what you have. If you don't have an easel, this activity would be lovely done on paper while you cuddle on the couch. And, as an added bonus, you have a special keepsake afterwards!
  • Take turns. Let your children see you tell a story and illustrate it yourself. Then give them the stage and listen intently. 
  • Let go of perfection. You don't have to be an artist or a particularly remarkable storyteller. Your child will love it regardless and appreciate your effort. And, chances are, you'll get better with practice.
  • Use various voices. An easy way to make your stories more interesting and fun is to use a new voice for each character. I think the best part of that is watching your child mimic you and experiment with voices of their own afterwards.
  • Tell an array of stories. You can share a classic favorite from your childhood or make up a special story just for your child. 
  • Build a Series. Once you make up a character, perhaps based on a special little boy or girl you know, you can build upon that story by describing new adventures. It will be very exciting and give your children something special to look forward to for next time. 

*By the way, Mommy Labs has a fantastic post about the benefits of storytelling and why it is so important for childhood. I think it's beautiful and a must read.

I hope this activity is as magical for you, as it is for my family. Happy connecting!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing or following me on Facebook for future updates. I hope to continue to inspire you to savor the childhood that beckons you. Thank you for reading!


  1. I love storytelling with the families that attend my program. And I wanted to get them more involved with the stories so I started "You be the illustrator". Before telling the story I would introduce a character and ask who would like to draw it. I would give a piece of paper and one marker. They'd draw and hold on to their picture. As I tell the story they bring up their picture as their character is introduced. The children loved it. We also did this in front of a school assembly with our big buddy class.

  2. We love storytelling. I like how you talk about using drawing to tell stories. It's fun to see my toddler make up stories about the art he is creating (often scribbles).

  3. Ohh, that's a wonderful idea Maureen! I love that. I think my son would get a kick out of making it interactive like that.

    And I loved the stories about scribbled, Trisha :) And it's amazing to see those scribbles and stories evolve. This is such a fun time.

    Thank you both for taking the time to read and comment :) It means a lot!

  4. Storytelling is definitely an activity which one never outgrows. We'll always love being read to. And when it's given a creative touch, that all the more enhances the experience. Thanks for the tips :)

  5. We have an easel- but my kids have really taken to an old dry erase board I used to use in my office- I think we could totally do this on that!

  6. Never though to use our chalk easel this way. Great idea.

  7. Great idea to use a chalkboard for storytelling. Love the pic of R getting into his story!

  8. Thank you everyone. I appreciate all of you taking the time to read and comment. Your comments really make my day!


Thank you for reading! I'd love and appreciate your feedback. And if you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing.