I like telling stories. My kids love hearing them. I read to them at bedtime. Currently we are reading The Penderwicks in Spring,the last book in a series that we have read and re-read over the years. The first book is about four sisters and a dog. The family slowly grows and a little boy is added to the mix. Needless to say, they LOVE this book. They identify with the different personalities of each sister and the dynamics between them. My kids love to read about the Penderwicks’ adventures on vacations or even in their own neighbourhood.
Stories are a big part of our homeschooling. Through fairy tales, legends and mythology from the world, I teach history, geography, language arts, and even math. And sometimes when we are in between books at bedtime or someone is going through a bit of a rough time, I make up a story myself.
In all these stories, there is a formula – the hero’s journey – a term I was first introduced to after I read The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.
The call to adventure signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of this society to a zone unknown. This fateful region of both treasure and danger may be variously represented: as a distant land, a forest, a kingdom underground, beneath the waves or above the sky, a secret island, lofty mountaintop, or profound dream state; but it is always a place of strangely fluid and polymorphous beings, unimaginable torments, superhuman deeds, and impossible delights.
According to Campbell, there is an archetypal hero and his/her journey in every myth. From Grimm’s fairy tales to Norse mythology to Star Wars, you can see the same pattern.
In the intro to the book, Campbell writes:
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
A call to adventure. A road of trials. The goal or “boon.” The return journey. The application of “boon.”
When I was young, I loved drawing the superheroes and villains in Marvel Comics. There was something so black and white about good vs evil. Although there would be instances when a superhero would go through this “hero’s journey.” Spiderman comes to mind. (And in DC comics, there is Superman).
These hero adventures resonate with something deep in our consciousness. If this wasn’t the case, why do we find creation myths from all around the world with similar themes and storylines?
Today, return to this land of stories.
Don’t read off a page. Tell it from memory and from your heart. A favourite one. Tell your kids. Or tell a story of a recent adventure in great detail to a friend. Or make up a story on the spot. Keep it simple. Remember the simple formula of the hero’s journey. A hero. Some challenges. Overcome them. Return home.
Here are other ideas and tips:
Try your hand at writing a story.
Tips on writing a children’s story.
Re-tell a simple story and change a detail to make your audience relate better. For example, I changed the turnip to an apple in a tree in this story around apple picking time.
Get advice from a storyteller.
My stories tend to be inspired by the seasons and animals. Many Thornton Burgess and Elsa Beskow stories have been my inspiration for those improv bedtime stories.
Remember: You can’t fail with Once upon a time…
A note for tomorrow’s creative prompt materials:
blank ceramic bowls or mugs and nail polish
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