From the time I was very young, stories have been an important part of my life. I remember listening to my dad spin tales of William the Great Wolf and Joey the Monkey. I was enthralled by the characters always looking forward to the next installment of my father's imagination. As an adult, storytelling has helped me build friendships and served as a cathartic process for difficult moments.
One of my favorite things in the world is to sit with friends or family sharing memories while also creating new ones. How else would I find out nuggets of family history like how my grandfather was the principal at the school where the Sugar Hill Gang attended? Stories make us laugh and cry, but most of all, they make us appreciate those around us.
As we continue through another holiday season that can sometimes get overwhelmed with running from place to place, eating way more than our bodies are meant to hold, and drowning in consumerism, let's take some time to listen to each other. To share a story or two of our own and prompt others to do the same.
It's also the perfect time to encourage your students to do the same with their families and friends and to model it in the classroom. Stories can be one of the most authentic ways for students to connect to what they are learning and build empathy for others.
One of my favorite resources for collecting stories is Story Corps. They are probably most well known for their program called The Great Thanksgiving Listen, but it doesn't have to be Thanksgiving to listen to and record stories. "The campaign empowers young people—and people of all ages—to create an oral history of the contemporary United States by recording an interview with an elder using the free StoryCorps App." It can be done at any time, and the recordings are archived in the Library of Congress.
On the website you can also find stories to share and listen to including collections like Veterans Stories or Latino Stories. There is even a whole section for classroom resources.
Not sure if you should give it a try? Here's a video from a student about her experience telling her story.
In light of the growing tension in the US, Story Corps has also created a new initiative called the One Small Step Campaign. Watch this video for more information.
No matter what you have planned for the coming weeks, take some time to invite stories into your life through the comfort of a good book, listening to someone else, or finding a way to share your part of yourself with someone else.
Stories connect us, they create links in a chain that bind us together as humans. We could all use a little more connection these days.