Strengthening families through storytelling photos

Storytelling: The Return Of A Lost Art


Isn’t it about time to bring storytelling back into our lives?


A couple months ago I watched a free webinar on the lost art of storytelling and was inspired to increase the amount of storytelling that takes place in our home.

It occurred to me that I could use the storytelling tactic to increase our family’s enthusiasm for family history work, improve our public speaking skills, and practice hospitality all at the same time.


My husband and I immediately set to work telling our children stories about their ancestors. We pulled out the family histories and family photos, which had been packed safely away, and started going through them.



Who knew how engaged our five-year-old son would be with his great-grandfather’s first-hand account of a shipwreck at sea?



Or how hard he and his sisters would laugh when they learned that a great-aunt had accidentally fallen out of a bathroom window while searching for her shoes, landing smack dab in the middle of a trash can outside?



The shocked look on their faces when they learned that their sweet, feminine grandma used to hang from the trestle beneath a passing train, legs swinging in midair, was priceless. “Oh my goodness!” their eyes seemed to say.



Now that we had the kids’ full attention, we encouraged them to choose a story and prepare to share it with the small group of people we would be inviting into our home the following week. They each chose a story and practiced telling it until they had all the details down. My husband and I chose a story, too.

The following Sunday evening our living room was filled with guests who were excited to hear our stories and anxious to share their own. For the next few hours, we laughed and cried and looked incredulously at one another as one story after another was shared. We enjoyed simple refreshments, lively conversation, and a new connection with one another.


In the end, my children were able to practice their public speaking skills. But, infinitely more important, they experienced the joy that comes from learning about their ancestors, and the gratification and connection that comes from opening your heart and home to others.

“That was so much fun!” my kids shouted, almost in unison, as we headed to bed for the night.

“Well, select another story to tell,” I quickly replied, “because we’ll be doing this again soon!”

Day 17 Challenge: Now it’s your turn! Learn about an ancestor by talking with family members or by visiting or Share the stories you learn with your family.


This is Day 17 of my Write 31 Days series for 2017: 31 Days to an Authentic Life.
For an index of all the posts in the series, please click HERE.


** This post may contain affiliate links.


BUY NOW: To Our Children’s Children: Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come


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  • J.M.

    What a lovely way to get kids (and adults!) interested in family history. It’s so much more than just names and dates and personally I love finding all of the stories of my ancestors.

  • Kim W Brengle

    My grandmother’s storytelling is one of the main reasons I’ve always been enthralled by family history. She told about her beloved Civil War veteran grandfather, Major Nicholas Snowden Hill, who would appear and tell her to reach into his deep overcoat pocket, only to find a puppy. Or buy her Mars, the circus pony she had admired. It was magical to me. Thanks for your stories and encouragement!

  • Marian Wood

    I laughed out loud at some of these stories. No wonder your children were intrigued and then encouraged to retell the stories as practice for public speaking. I’m going to try this with my younger relatives! Thanks for the idea.

  • Lori | Choosing Wisdom

    Stories are a powerful tool in bringing generations together! My kids used to always ask me to tell them a story of when I was their age. Even now that they are grown they are asking about things they did when they were younger. It is important to record our stories for future generations to be able to read, learn, and grow from.

    Thanks for sharing on #WanderingWednesday with Choosing Wisdom! 💕

  • Ris Phillips

    My kids love to hear stories about our families, and I love the idea of leveraging those stories to practice public speaking. I could also envision this dovetailing with writing practice – they could write notes for themselves, or write the story in their own words. Definitely going to do this!

    • Down Aspen Lane

      I’ve not heard of Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I’ll have to look her up. Thanks for the recommendation, Sandra!

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