Humankind has been telling stories in one form or another for the whole of our history. Whether told orally, theatrically, through using pictures or by writing and reading scripts, our species has always found a way to communicate with each other through storytelling. Stories are passed down generations, and form an important role in children’s lives as they grow up and learn more about the world around them.
In medieval Britain, bards would be employed at the courts of nobles and royalty to entertain guests with stories, poems, songs and music. At a time when the vast majority of people were illiterate, being able to memorise and tell a good story was a skill that was in demand not just for entertainment, but also as an incredibly important way for news to travel around the country.
While the oral tradition of storytelling continues, in contemporary culture we can also access stories through media platforms, such as radio and television, and more recently social media platforms and the internet. Digital tools help us to communicate with each other and tell stories in new ways. A story can be as short as a couple of hundred characters, or it can be a full-on multi-media immersive sensory experience.
Stories are powerful. They can be used to create bonds and bring people together, they can entertain and educate, explore ideas around identity and improve wellbeing. They can bridge language and cultural divides, and appeal to all ages. However, stories can also be used to hurt and divide people, and to spread rumours and lies.
This learning story focuses on books created specifically for children. It looks at the ways in which stories written for children have changed over time, and focuses on a variety of themes, using both historical and more modern examples.
Bard: a poet or storyteller, who could recite stories from memory.