The youngest storytellers

Start them young. Fill their heads with stories, and children will have the guideposts they need to find their way through life’s labyrinth. I remember meeting a young storyteller when I was touring American military schools in Germany. Her family was housing me during my stay in the community. I’m sure the six-year-old girl expected a magical being to get off the train. Instead, what she saw was a middle-aged, quite ordinary woman. Her face fell.

The two mothers who met me, along with the disappointed six-year-old, found a café in the city’s central square. We ordered lunch and sat talking about the storytelling performances I would be doing next day. The child was silent, watching me speculatively.

Lunch came, and I could see the little girl was shivering. I offered her some of my hot soup. That seemed to thaw things between us. She blurted out, “Would you like to hear a story?”

Encouraged by my enthusiastic reply, she began to tell a folktale with complete absorption and consummate skill. Thrilled with the responses of three admiring adults, she told another and then another. After several stories, her mother asked her where she had learned the stories.

Turned out her babysitter read folktales to her, and the girl learned them by heart. Her mother was astonished, as the child had never told her the stories. I was astonished because she was the most accomplished young storyteller I had ever met.

The two children in the videos were considerably younger when these stories were recorded. The little guy in the first video is off to a strong start. Hats off to his mother, who’s nurturing her child’s natural love of words, ideas, and stories. (You can check out her videos on WillowWeathers’s YouTube Channel.)

The second is young Capucine, the French storyteller who became something of a YouTube sensation with her charming storytelling. This video version takes the original story and turns it into a production, with Capucine’s storytelling woven through it.

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