Why We Listened When My Father Read to Us

Why We Listened When My Father Read to Us

I have precious childhood memories of sitting with my sister on my father’s lap and listening with rapt attention as Dad read aloud to us. Sometimes he would carry us away into a world of chubby stuffed teddy bears and their squeaky piglet friends. We would listen, enchanted, as Winnie-the-Pooh found himself wedged firmly in to the entranceway of Rabbit’s home, or got his head stuck in a hunny pot. Sometimes Dad would read to us from a big book with a yellow cover that held a collection of Uncle Remus stories. That book was illustrated beautifully, and it gave us vivid images with which to enlighten our dreams. Does anybody else out there remember Br’er Fox, Br’er Rabbit and Tar Baby?

Growing up, our bookshelves held collections of fairy tales and books of poetry, and Dad was one of those wonderful fathers who always changed his voice to reflect the different personalities of each character whose lives he was sharing with us. I’m sure that part of the reason I grew up to be a writer was because I had an early taste of the magical landscapes languages could conjure. Our bookshelves held other books, too – several different dictionaries, a beat up French-English dictionary, and an “old-fashioned” thesaurus that catalogued all entries by number, rather than in alphabetical order. Now that was a good thesaurus!

What made my sister and I pay attention wasn’t just the fact that Dad had a captivating way of telling a story (although he did!). Or that we felt safe and cozy in his arms (which we did!). But there was also the fact that the stories he told kept us in suspense while delivering easy-to-digest wisdom with which we could identify. Pooh Bear got stuck in Rabbit’s doorway? Oh NO! How was he going to get out of there? (Better not eat too much, or that could happen to you!)

Br’er Rabbit fell for Br’er Fox’s Tar Baby trap? Oh NO, he’s lunch now, for sure! (Keep your cool and stay out of trouble, but if you do get tricked, think of a better trick!) Thinking of that whole comfortable passage in my life the other day reminded me that, while businesspeople are all expected to be story-tellers and publishing companies in the grand effort of making sure our business interests show up in online searches, not many people are telling us how to do that. Here are a few pointers:

  • Think of a sequence of events that is rooted in an emotional state – in my example today, I’ve keyed in on my happy memories of my father telling bedtime stories
  • Include specific details (names of books and characters, how I felt, how my dad read stories)
  • Include emotion (suspense, dreams, manipulation)
  • Look for a logical bridge between your story and the point you want to make (stories from my childhood and how they relate to the stories we are expected to tell as business people today)
  • Be of service (with these pointers, for example)

There is a lot more to writing than these details, of course, and that’s why a strong writer is worth his or her weight in hunny to a business today. But if you’re looking for some basic guidelines, start with those ones and play with them a little. You’re also welcome to purchase my book on how to write. It’s called The Write Way and it’s available on Amazon.

And if you are looking for a collection of wonderful stories to pass the time of day. I highly recommended the original collection of Winnie-the-Pooh books written by A.A. Milne. The original illustrations are a must. It’s a classic and as of today it’s the #7-ranked collection of children stories on Amazon.com. For good reason.

One comment

  1. Stephen Hocking

    Love the post but made me smile! Using a capital “R” for reading makes a big difference in the UK. Reading (pronounced “reding”) is a town in SW England with a well reguarded University, a football team (not American football but the football the rest of the world plays) and uninspiring architecture.

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