Storytelling, Language Skills, & Tone

Everybody loves listening to stories, I have no doubt. But mostly young children have the innocence that allows them to embrace every aspect of it – the goofy voices, exaggerated gestures, twisted facial expressions, etc. (without being embarrassed, distracted, or bored – which might happen when we tell stories to teenagers…).

Now, bear with me for a little detour.

If there are any Seinfeld fans reading this, you might remember Seinfeld talking about his discovery of his “tone of voice” when he got married.

He said his tone of voice has become such a bone of contention that his marriage has turned into a musical. “My actual speaking voice that I’m using right now to communicate with you is not welcome in my house,” he said. “That’s why I’m out here talking to you.”

Tone in marriage

I think my husband is as clueless as Seinfeld when it comes to tone… Some people (generally female) seem to be naturally gifted at using and understanding the tone of a conversation, while others (mostly male) are “tone-deaf”. Based on this common sense stereotype, I hypothesize that stories are missing from your life and upbringing if you have a difficult time with tone. And since girls tend to be drawn more to stories than boys, the answer to tone might be right here. – Wow. That came together quite nicely ;-)

Back to the main theme.

Because very young ones embrace stories to the fullest, they will pick up on how the storyteller uses language. They hear inflections in speech and they hear how words can be presented in new, compelling, and fascinating ways. If you include rhyme or poetry, children will discover how sound and melody of language can shape a story.

Very often, the vocabulary that is used in stories is much more diverse than in everyday talk or in the media. Listeners understand the power of word choice and they see how different words can add different levels of drama or emotion.

The more stories your kids will hear, the more they will see and attain the building of plot, characterization, climax, conflict, conclusions, etc.

All of these building blocks of language will then, eventually, lead us to understanding what tone means in a conversation and how we should decipher it. And that is probably the best friendship and marriage advice I can put out here… your children’s future spouses can thank me later ;-) .