Stories matter for children's learning

Published On: April 10, 2021 07:06 AM NPT By: Usha Pokharel

Stories have a powerful influence on children’s understanding of cultural and gender roles. Parents need to understand that stories develop their children’s literacy. Stories convey values, beliefs, attitudes, and social norms that shape children's perceptions and reality.

All kinds of stories are a favorite with children, not just the bedtime stories. I am sure parents have noticed that they do not have to force their children to read storybooks. Children are instinctively drawn to storybooks. They love storybooks and stories. As you know, a story is a narrative account of a real or an imagined event or events with a specific structure of narrative with a particular style and set of characters, including a sense of completeness.

So, storybooks pass accumulated wisdom and beliefs, and values to the children. Stories explain to children how things are, why they are, and our role and purpose. For children, stories are the foundation of memory and learning because they are the building blocks of knowledge. It connects them with their past, present, and future and teaches them to anticipate possible consequences of their actions. Stories help children to understand more about life, the world, and themselves.

Stories have a powerful influence on children’s understanding of cultural and gender roles. Parents need to understand that stories develop their children’s literacy. Stories convey values, beliefs, attitudes, and social norms that shape children's perceptions and reality. Children learn how to behave, think, and act through the characters that they meet through stories. Stories are one of the fundamental ways we communicate, regardless of how they are told, through picture books, dance, images, math equations, songs, or oral retellings.

Renowned literary scholars claim that we understand ourselves through the lives of characters in stories. They also believe that stories help readers understand how authors and their characters think and why they act in the way they do. Another research shows that children learn to develop through stories, a critical perspective about engaging in social action. Parents, please understand, stories help your children to develop empathy, cultivate imaginative and divergent thinking rather than looking for a single response. Often parents read or tell stories to their children before bedtime.

I like to animate stories for children. It is a fun activity much loved by children. I made up stories for them with their active participation. Often the characters of their stories reflected issues they faced in schools or with their friends. Through story building, those issues were resolved. I think stories are a powerful tool to influence children’s actions and understanding. Fairy tales and fantasy help children understand the culture and people of other countries, while folk tales help enhance their imagination. Some stories are favorites of children, and they ask their parents to read them over and over. 

I remember repeating my children's favorite stories repeatedly. Most of the time, these stories were repetitions of the ones already told before. They were fully aware that though the story was an old one, it would still be as good as new, by the time it ends, because of their input to the storyline. This is one way for my children to showcase their knowledge about different things they learned in school. Children are not bored of hearing the same story again and again. They love it. Every time the story is repeated, they understand something more.

Reading story books or listening to stories promotes vocabulary, early literacy skills and builds a good relationship with your child. When children read stories that contain feelings, it can help them understand and accept their own feelings. It is natural for you to wonder if this repetition is beneficial and not a waste of your time. There is nothing to worry about, repetition helps your child.   

Repetition helps children learn complex information by increasing opportunities for the information to be encoded. Allowing your child to focus on different elements of the experience. It also provides them opportunities to ask questions and connect concepts together through discussion. So, there is an excellent reason why children like to read the same story over again. 

Please understand, stories play a vital role in the growth and development of children. The characters they meet and get to know in the stories become like friends to your children. Children need to know that storybooks are also sources of information. They also need to know that reading books will improve their reading skills. Reading helps children with their confidence levels, coping with feelings and language, and learning. This will benefit them in school as they will feel able to take part fully in activities. Stories are a great way to introduce unfamiliar words and ideas into a child’s language. 

Reading stories helps relax children before bedtime, allows them to forget the stresses and strains of the day, and indulges them in fantasy for a while. The soothing familiarity of a much-loved story, the rhyming, and the repetitions, provide a child an added sense of security. This time spent with a parent reading stories helps children relax. It also helps children cope with feelings. It helps children understand that others also feel the same way and they are not alone. This helps them realize feelings are normal and should be expressed.

Finally, stories are also used for teaching more complex ideas, such as the importance of sharing, the passage of time, compassion for others etc. They can be used when trying to explain traumatic events, such as family break-ups and bereavement. For parents, it is the sharing of a special moment with their child leading to relaxation and peace after a busy day. Parents, please let older children read storybooks, set a time if you are not comfortable but let them read. Reading will do them good. Let them buy books rather than burgers and pizzas. I understand books are expensive but think of them as an investment in your children’s future. Now that much you can do, right parents?

(Usha Pokharel is an educationist and author of several children’s books. She can be contacted at


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