Storytelling has been an important family tradition since the beginning of time. It’s a way to pass down favorite memories, celebrate our past, and inform our future. Story time also provides a special opportunity to connect with a child, build their confidence, and create meaningful moments together. All of these wonderful benefits are what inspired our children’s storytelling kit, Once Upon a Time.
Once Upon a Time provides a unique take on story time that puts the child at the center of each tale. Its creation was fueled largely by our team’s own experiences telling tales to their children.
We asked Compendium’s project manager Sheila Kamuda to share how her own time telling stories to her daughter, Sydney, served as creative inspiration for the kit.
How did your time sharing stories with Sydney inspire the creation of our Once Upon a Time kit?
Kids love hearing about themselves, and we wanted to create something that honors that. The project team had the idea to make a kid’s product filled with storytelling cards and a small journal to capture the tales.
As the team started brainstorming, I immediately recalled my own daughter constantly asking us to tell her a story. Sydney loved it when we would tell her tales where she was the central character. The best part was that these weren’t made-up stories (although they could be). They were stories about her daily activities, but she was the star, the superhero. We didn’t try to make her the superhero—she just felt special hearing stories about her life.
My actual experience with this, I believe, gave substance, life, and excitement to the project.
How did your storytelling impact your relationship with Sydney?
The storytelling, which happened quite often, enhanced our relationship, brought us even closer together as a family, and brought tons of joy into our home. Because we often told actual stories about Sydney, it was fun to talk about them, to remember them. We told a lot of stories during mealtime, which made our family experience more fun as well. We didn’t rush our meals. We took the time to be together.
How can people utilize storytelling to bring a sense of comfort during this difficult time?
We all have a lot of time on our hands, especially with children being home from school right now. This is an incredible opportunity to strengthen all of our relationships, especially with our children. Recalling beautiful and silly memories adds to a sense of calm in this sea of chaos. Going back to what really matters in our lives—each other—is most important, and this is a wonderful way to add fun to any family.
How can parents use storytelling to help build their child’s self-confidence?
It’s really important to keep it real. And always try to tell a story where the child did something heroic. It can be as simple as wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle. I remember Sydney’s eyes would light up and she would get so excited to hear how she did something that we were proud of. And something she could be proud of herself for, too!
Sometimes it can be hard to recall those everyday moments that make for good story starters. The prompts in Once Upon a Time support parents in finding those gems.
Is there a favorite story you have of Sydney when she was a child?
Probably my favorite story comes from when Sydney was about three, because it astonished me. I wrote an ABC book called ABCs On Stage, which I would read to her, along with all her other books. This is a rhyming book with all sorts of animals that are on stage, doing all kinds of crazy things.
About three weeks after I had read this book to Sydney, we were having dinner, and out of nowhere Sydney recited: “The elephant conducts tonight with elegance and ease.” That was right out of ABCs On Stage. Wow. It blew my mind that she remembered it.
Another memory is from when she was five. She turned to me and said, “My heart will never let go of you.”
During this season, families are spending more time together than ever, as kids are home from school and many people are staying in their houses. Our Once Upon a Time kit can be a great way to spark a family dialogue and embrace the magic of storytelling in your daily routine. Begin sharing your family stories using these downloadable cards from the kit.