A Story to Tell

Do you remember as a child sitting around a campfire, where spooky stories were being told? Or maybe you have fond memories of listening to relatives share stories of days gone by.  The art of storytelling has us connecting with others and sharing experiences. Storytelling entertains, educates, preserves culture and instills values.

If you are interested in building storytelling into your family routines, I would suggest spending time listening and observing with your children in different environments. Go into the forest, sit on a log together and just listen to the sounds. What do you hear? Look up high into the trees; imagine what lives in the branches. Are there hollowed out trunks or crevices between rocks? Who or what could be living there? Be creative, all responses accepted, there’s no wrong answers. This builds in an aspect of risk taking that is needed when telling stories. Often we can become paralyzed in our storytelling searching for a correct response or perfect way to tell a story. Spend time “people watching” in stores and parks. One of my favourite places to watch people is the airport. Make up stories about the people you observe. Where are they going? Who are they going to see? When driving in the car, look out at the landscapes, farmyards or neighbourhoods. Ask questions to each other about what you see that would illicit creative responses. All these aspects are great springboards to becoming a storyteller. 

This last year I had the opportunity to develop a series of five stories for Bedtime Stories (getbedtimestories.com). It is a digital storytelling app to support parents in sharing stories with their children. It has a multifaceted approach where parents can directly read the stories word for word to their children or they can use the key points to guide their storytelling.  With each story series having five stories, children and parents connect to the characters and observe the growth and development throughout the series. They can even continue making up new stories related to the series. There is also a Story Builder section where random components of a story are selected and families build their own story together. It can make for many giggles on a long car trip with each family member contributing to telling the story. Authors all around the world contributed to this storytelling app, seeing the value in bringing families together through storytelling. Bedtime Stories will be releasing a Storytelling School within the app to assist families with how to tell stories and the benefits of storytelling for your child’s growth and family connection.  

Carter & the Cedar Forest Critters is the story series I developed for Bedtime Stories. Carter is a rather shy boy and often struggles to have his voice heard among his four older and louder brothers. When he has the opportunity to spend summer with his grandparents in Cedar Forest, Carter discovers a magical walking stick, giving him the ability to talk to furry and feathered critters. His knowledge and love of nature allows him to lend a helping hand, solve a few problems and make new friends. 

One of the highlights in my writing journey has been to connect with storytellers from around the world. The publisher for Bedtime Stories is Little Lights Studio in Vienna, Austria. The illustrator for the cover of Carter & the Cedar Forest Critters was Lenny Wen who lives in Jakarta, Indonesia. Seeing the characters you created on paper be brought to life in illustration was quite exciting. Having each story world with only one illustration is part of the concept behind the storytelling app. This allows for families to incorporate more creativity and interpretation into the story world. 

Nature is an aspect I love to include in my story writing. There is peace that unclutters the mind and heart when one spends time in nature. While writing this story series I would immerse myself in the natural setting of the forest for inspiration. Often I would load up my folding chair, laptop, coffee and munchies (because chocolate and writing go hand in hand) and head to Bateman Park. You may have seen me writing under the large trees with the gurgling stream. 

My writing journey continues on as I have numerous picture book manuscripts completed as well as a middle grade novel set in the Pacific West coast.  This summer I dipped my feet into the waters of screenplay writing andworked with my dear friend, Denise Jaden www.denisejaden.com from Abbotsford, who writes YA fiction. The path to traditional publishing can be difficult and at times disheartening with rejections. Connecting with fellow authors and being part of the writing community is key.  My focus is to enjoy the steps in the journey and not worry about the destination, for it is in our steps where we find the story.

May your days be filled with stories to share and your cup with coffee. 



You can connect with Nikki on Twitter (@NBergstresser) and Facebook (Nikki Bergstresser-author) or check out her blog NikkiBergstresser.com


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