Asalaam 'Alaikum:

I've been doing a bit of reading lately – it's amazing that I've actually been able to find the time.  I got several books from the library on different topics and read each book when I'm in the mood for that topic.  My latest and most interesting book so far has been "Tell Me a Story: Creating Bedtime Tales Your Children Will Dream On" by Chase Collins.  I actually "heard" of this book because it was in the bibliography of another book I have been reading: "Once Upon a Time: Parenting through Storytelling" by Hoda Beshir.  I'm disappointed right now because I can't find the "Once Upon a Time" book anywhere in the house – I've been carrying them around wherever I go in case I might sneak in a quick reading moment (while stirring food, and the like – can't you just imagine it?!)  Yes – that's how I make time to do things I enjoy!

Anyway, I do really recommend the Parenting Through Storytelling book – which is, by the way, written by a Muslim author.  I personally think it is great but somehow glanced through the bibliography and they mentioned the "Tell Me a Story" book – somehow I have been reading that one more (perhaps it reads better for me).  Anyway, I truly enjoy both – which brings me to my point.

I have decided to start using storytelling more as part of our daily lives.  I really think it is a valuable resource for teaching the kids and sharing ideas and thoughts with them that might be more difficult otherwise.  I think you can teach valuable lessons this way.  We are going to start our first storytelling session tonight, insha'Allah.  I am personally excited about it!  Mind you, one thing these books stress is that you don't have to be a writer, or a brain surgeon for that matter, in order to learn to use storytelling.  The "Tell Me a Story Book" really emphasizes that it is not necessary – you just need to be a parent that wants to share with your child – and the book tells you how to get there.

While I do love writing and expressing my thoughts – I really feel excited about the possiblities.  Well, let me tell you what I am doing and then I can tell you why I'm excited.

I'd like to tell you the story of Mitzi and Lulu mouse.  Mizti is 5 years old and Lulu is 3.  Mitzi is a energetic, excitable little mouse with long brown curls and large brown eyse.  Lulu is a quiet, shy little mouse who – when excited – will talk your ears off.  She has the sweetest laugh and her head is full of little ringlets that frame her face.  Now, you may think that Mitzi is a strange name.  Actually, that isn't her name at all – it is a nickname.  See, when she was younger she loved to always wear mittens.  In the winter-time this wasn't a problem, but in the summer she would get ready to go outside wearing long shorts and a dress with galoshes, mittens and a winter cap.  Even when playing dress-up in the house she would be found wearing mittens and if she couldn't find her mittens, she would put socks on her hands!  She always refused to take them off.  So, everyone called her Mitzi and each spring mother would hide the mittens, galoshes and winter hats in the storage closet. . .

Now, what makes this story so special is that the characters are based on my daughters – with their little habits (yes I actually did have to hide the mittens!).  Thus, the characters are more interesting to them and I can always add characteristics to them that reflect the changes my girls go through in time.  The one thing I am excited about is that every day we have issues to come up or learning times.  We recently had a bit of behavior come up that was unexpected and I wondered how to deal with it.  I really think that using storytelling can be a useful tool to teach the children about proper behavior.  I also think it will be a great tool for teaching the children about empathy.  When they do something that affects another, I could represent it in the story – having the child see how their behavior affected the other person.  I don't know, maybe I'm getting too excited – but my girls (like Momma) really love stories to begin with – and I hope, insha'Allah that it will work for us.  I'll have to let you know how it turns out.

Asalaam 'Alaikum,
Sumayyah Umm SAA

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  1. umm maryam says:

    Assalamualykum nice idea, dh does this with our daughter sometimes. theres 1 story she like to hear again and again the hole story! i’ll have to come up with some new ones. bascially its about all of us going for a walk and falling into a hole somewhere and then someone like teddy or rabbit coming along to help us out with a rope etc. Think i need to expand on this. i have been meaning to tell her your arnab story. maybe if i get a few ideas down i will have a better line of thought when telling her a story. as we try to do this when i need to turn the lights out and get them to sleep, but i really don’t want to read book after book!
    i can’t seem to think at all these days! i used to have such a good little routine going. well insha’Allaah i will get back into it.

  2. this is so funny because i thought of that idea by myself already. But i do it before bedtime. I tell a story of a girl named Leila and her little brother Idris (i have a daughter and a younger son) and the usual things that happen with little kids day to day. Usually i would choose something we did that weekend or that day, i would just make it up every night. Then i ran out of ideas after about a year of doing that and i started going to the library every week and getting books from there to read and sometimes i would get stories off the internet of the prophet or sahabah or wives of the prophet etc. But the storytelling is really nice, i think you will all enjoy it and it is helpful in teaching lessons too inshaAllah.

  3. Asalaam ‘Alaikum:

    Umm Maryam, It’s good to hear that you also implement this in your home. If you are wanting ideas – I truly suggest the books I mentioned in the post – especially the “Tell Me a Story” books – it is very insightful and inspiring.

    Umm Ibrahim, I know what you mean about running out of ideas – I guess I also have to work on that one. It really depends on what we did that day. I also read to them stories – especially the Prophet’s stories, etc.

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