why I tell stories to children

Phil telling stories at the library
courtesy of Tadpole Photography, Mill Valley.

I tell stories to children because it makes me young again.

So much love occurs between the children and myself. It is a love born of innocence: their innocence, of course, & also the innocence I have learned from them.

I have become a new person since I began telling stories.

I have learned once again to be honest. Authentic. Children don’t like it if I pretend I’m something I am not, or do something I don’t fully understand. As a result, I pick stories in which I can empathize with every character I portray. This requires a good deal more compassion than I have been used to exercising.

Phil with the children of Canal Child Care Center
courtesy of Canal Child Care Center

I have learned to trust again. it is a joy to work with human beings who are neither wary nor prejudicial. And it is contagious. I choose stories in which honor, trust and respect are paramount, and these stories affect me as much as they affect the children.

I see again as a child. You probably remember some of the things you imagined when you were young: fairies, ogres, animals that talked. I have come to believe in these things again. Not as escape or delusion but because I believe they bring me closer to reality. Fairies have become faith, hope, goodness. Ogres—well, ogres have always been with us, no fantasy there. And talking animals? I see now the children are right. Animals do talk and feel and see. We grownups have forgotten. We are so busy talking with one another we don’t hear anyone else.

If indeed the planet Earth is in crisis, and if our forests and animals are vanishing from its surface, it is because we no longer listen. We have forgotten. We have lost our innocence.

Thanks to the children, I’ve regained a bit of it. And, through them, I can hear the trees and the animals and the forest.

I am truly blessed, for I am young again.

This article originally appeared in the SMMC Newsletter.
Click here to read the Marin Independent-Journal's interview with Phil.