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Listen To the Story

We all love them. Stories that is. We read them to our children, create them in school and enjoy them on vacation. Some will write other people’s stories and some will write their own. Still others will choose to pass on stories via spoken word.

My earliest memories are of my mom and dad sharing stories of their childhood. Both came from poor Ukrainian families, working hard, living off the land and creating a life of so many possibilities in their new country.

Then came the hunting stories, some from the past and even more from the present. Dad was a superb storyteller. It didn’t seem to matter how many times I heard them, they were always great. In school I learned to read stories and then write my own. From Mrs. Gillespie in grade 1 to Mrs. Chorney in high school, I soaked up the teaching, dreaming of being an author.

The dream lives on. Spare time found me with my nose in a book. It was an opportunity to learn about places in the world I’d never been, food that one day I would be able to cook and a long list of other amazing things.

When I had my first son, I pulled out books from my childhood and then added dozens more as he discovered ones he enjoyed. The collection grew as the second son arrived and evenings would find all of us with a book in front of us. As much as the boys enjoyed books, they loved the stories from my mom and dad, listening to them over and over again.

Without a doubt the best stories were of real people in real situations. There were close calls, heartache, lessons learned and my favourite, the ones that made me laugh until tears poured down my face. I loved hearing people’s stories.

That brings me to a day a couple of years ago when I was asked if I would like to read with kids in the Partnership Approach to Literacy program. I love to read, know what a valuable life skill it is and I enjoy kids, so I agreed.

I dove into the program, getting to know the kids I was working with, trying different systems to help them read better and I quickly realized something. Lack of confidence was a huge factor in their ability to read fluently or even try to read. It presented another challenge. How would their confidence grow?

As we chatted every week and read together, I noticed little things. There would be a smile when I went to the classroom to get them. I wouldn’t have to ask how their weekend was because they’d start telling me as soon as they saw me. Challenging words were attacked. Stories emerged and so did laughter.

Why? I think it was because of something rather simple. Stories were shared. Stories of what we did the week before, what we liked or didn’t, laughter & even some sadness. It was the story of their lives unfolding and we were sharing, listening and taking time for something valuable.

So here’s my challenge to you. Listen to a story. A story of life. I’ve chosen to do that with PAL and it’s a treasured part of my life. You may choose something else but make sure that you stop to listen. Your life will be richer because of it. Listen to the story.

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