Telling Stories Builds Children’s Brains and Family Bonds


If you’re looking for ways to build a stronger relationship with your children – and build their brains at the same time – sit down and tell them a story, experts say.

“Parents are bombarded with messages about how to raise their children all the time and in all the noise sometimes what gets lost is that the smallest things can have a major impact,” says Associate Professor Julie Green, Executive Director of the Australian Government funded parenting website

“Most of the discussion around literacy focusses on the importance of reading,” Associate Professor Green says.

“But evidence also shows there are benefits to parents sitting down with their kids telling stories together. Both reading and telling stories together have benefits way beyond literacy.

“These benefits include building strong bonds between parents and children, helping children feel secure and develop socially and emotionally, helping them make sense of the world, and literally helping build their brain architecture by connecting neural pathways through positive, back-and-forth interactions.”

Professional storyteller Anne E. Stewart says storytelling is free and open to everyone – you don’t need to be an expert to make a powerful difference to children.

“Almost anything can be used as a prop as a starting point for a story – and what better day to start than now?” says Ms Stewart, who has been telling stories professionally for more than 20 years.

“Perhaps parents might like to dig out a treasured childhood item or an old photo to kickstart the creative process and promote children’s imagination and language development,” she said.

“Sharing stories about family events and history can be a good conversation starter. And if you like you can branch out to made-up tales. You can even ask your children to tell you a story. This can be great fun too.”