Why Kids Love Stories by Sarah Henderson, NGY Storyteller

“The world is not made of atoms, it is made of stories.”
-Muriel Ruykeser, American poet

Humanity has a deep connection to story. Stories exist throughout history, from before written language, in sacred text and in literature. Stories are a valued part of cultures around the world and throughout the lifespan.

Kids love stories, and for good reason. Stories inspire us, spark our imaginations, and teach us about our cultures and human connections. Stories can help us to work out our fears and ignite our dreams.

Stories can also be practical vehicles for information. They can explain what things are, how things work, and what to do in certain circumstances (i.e. DO NOT open the door if a big bad wolf comes knocking!). “In my life, the stories I have heard from my family, my friends, my community, and from willing strangers all over the world have been the true source of my education,” says storyteller Nancy Mellon. Stories aren’t just an innocent past time. They are a powerful medium for learning!

What makes for an engaging story? There aren’t universal answers for this, but one possibility seems to be that a good story allows the listener or the reader to become a part of it in some way.

For example, we get to be in the great green room of Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon. We can accompany Gerald and Piggie as they navigate the complexities of friendship in the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. And by traveling to the magical land of Narnia with the Pevensie children, we experience fantastical adventures in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Great stories invite us in.

Another favorite author, Margaret Wise Brown

Adding yoga and mindfulness is a great way of bringing a favorite story alive. This can be done by pairing traditional poses with the story (i.e. Pigeon pose during Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus or Downward Facing Dog during Clifford the Big Red Dog), but also by using imagination with yoga poses. Could Goddess and Chair poses become the wild things in Where the Wild Things Are by Marie Sendak? How about a Squat/Malasana pose becoming a duck in Make Way For Ducklings?

One of my favorite books to add yoga and mindfulness to is Karma Wilson’s Bear Snores On. This book has several animal characters, some that have corresponding yoga poses (hare = rabbit), others that have common yoga equivalents (mouse = child’s), and more that can be approximated with poses or creative movements (raven = Sun breath).

Including yoga and mindfulness in storytime is an easy way to enrich kids’ literary experiences and to provide opportunities for whole-child learning. Adding these strategies allows storytime to become an experience of embodied learning and helps kids connect emotions, mind, and body.

Next time you are planning for your classroom or child’s storytime, take a bit of time to read through the book and imagine the yoga possibilities. What are corresponding elements that show up plainly (e.g. ocean setting = Ocean breath, sunny day = Sun Salutation)?

Then use your imagination for poses that might easily translate (e.g. baby birds in a nest = Easy/Sukasana pose, driving a car = Staff/Dandasana or a dragon breathing fire = Sighing breath).

Now ask what are other creative movements to do for additional book aspects (e.g. What does a yoga unicorn or a dump truck look like to you?). The great thing is, you can’t do this wrong! You’re sharing a story with movement and breath kids are going to love it!

Yoga Story Time

Let us know how this goes for you, what books you choose to add yoga to, and how your kids react. And if you get stuck in planning, shoot us a message and we can brainstorm. Because together we are one!

Peace & love-

P.S. – Want some inspiration? Try the NGY Lesson Plans titles Bookworm and Once Upon A Time for connections between stories and yoga. (Or join the NGY Lesson Plan Club for monthly yoga story additions in your inbox new fun for you and your favorite kids every month of the year!) 

Sarah Henderson
Next Generation Yoga Storyteller
Charlotte, NC

Sarah Henderson personifies the Next Generation Yoga philosophy with her big heart, youthful spirit and fun, creative nature. She not only co-authors new NGY Lesson Plans, but also keeps us all up to date on the latest and greatest in the world of Kids Yoga as our social media guru. Her title of NGY Storyteller is truly well-earned! Known for her imaginative teaching that brings stories and moral principles to life through Yoga, Sarah is passionate about teaching kids of all ages and abilities to connect with themselves and others through movement and meditation.


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