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“The children who have the most imagination are those who have been told a lot of stories”

The cross : Why do children need stories so much?

Isabelle Sauer: Children love stories because they love what words tell them. I feel it during the sessions where I tell stories out loud, without musical accompaniment. I start talking and little by little, the whole group becomes one. I am addressing everyone, but everyone feels that the story is for them alone.

→ ANALYSIS. Why fairy tales speak to children

This is only possible, however, if the audience identifies with the hero, the one around whom everything is played out. But this closeness between the child and the hero should not be too obvious either. Above all, the good hero must not even explicitly resemble the child, while still being completely him. In order to install this ambiguity, the storyteller tries to create a vagueness: the story unfolds we don’t really know where or when.

When this link is woven, it can then address eternal themes: life, death, the difficulty of growing up, the rivalry between brothers and sisters. The child projects himself in stories written in the Middle Ages as well as in contemporary stories, in Amerindian and Australian tales, because the themes addressed are universal.

What role does the pleasure of language play in the development of the imagination?

IS: Language is essential. It is through her, her rhythm, that the tale embarks on an imaginary that fascinates the little ones. For my part, I never try, for example, to simplify the texts too much because children like words that are a little complicated. Thus, I use the past simple, although it is rarely used in everyday life. I notice that the children who try to tell their story, spontaneously, also use this time. In their minds, it is important, it has something solemn which means: “Watch out, I’m going to tell you something. » They also begin to speak with emphasis because they reproduce the tone, the attitude of the adults who read aloud to them.

Sdo they also tell stories?

IS: I think there is indeed a connection. The children who have the most imagination are those who have been told many stories, because they have been given the freedom to recombine the stories they have heard. The child’s imagination, even if it is said to be abundant, needs to be nourished. I see this very clearly when I work with those who are furthest from the written word: at first, the tale evokes nothing for them. Then, little by little, when an adult is there to feed the language games, their interest grows.


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