Nourishing children with good healthy stories

There is nothing more precious and vulnerable than the developing ‘inner-world’ of a growing child and the quality of the stories we feed them, just like a good healthy bowl of food, will nourish their souls for years to come.

So when it comes to the question of nourishing children with good healthy stories, one must ask just what makes up a healthy story?

Naturally only a parent can truly answer this question for their own child and it’s something as a storyteller and mother I am constantly thinking about. Writing and performing stories for kids and songs for kids is a big responsibility and it’s not one I take lightly.

A child’s young senses are so open and aware that the types of stories digested have a huge impression on how they not only view the world, but more importantly, how they view themselves as they grow into their own beings.

A parent recently got in touch with me to share the following story. She explained that her child had become absolutely fascinated with plover birds since hearing my story of Jack Frost Meets His Match on the Come Gather collection of Wintery Tales & Songs.

The 4 year old was adamant that he and  his mother find a book in the library that told them what these birds looked like and where exactly they lived. After they had done this together and worked out that plover birds did indeed live in their part of the world, the boy was obviously relieved and said, “Good. Now I know that mean Jack Frost can’t get us here!”

Last year I had a little girl come up to me after a storytent performance where I had told the story of The Message in the Bottle from the Jump In collection of Summer stories and songs. It’s the perfect tale to help with challenges around sibling rivalry and in this case, it’s the younger brother mostly getting the raw end of the stick. At the end of the show, this little girl looked me right in the eye and said, “I have a little sister and you know it’s hard being the big sister sometimes too?!”

Another time, after sharing story magic with a lovely Kindy class I asked them all if they had any questions or wanted to tell me any stories. One by one each of them shared with me about their Grandparents or people they knew who had died.

I am so grateful for little moments like these where I get to connect with that precious inner world of a small child. Their brutal honesty and unaffected way of relating to the world is such a gift and I really do feel deeply honoured to receive it.

Encountering these often confronting emotional states in the land of story will only help a child (and adult) face these real life emotions when they arise in their everyday lives.

It’s also a great reminder that kids stories go deep in all kinds of ways. The art of therapeutic storytelling is a hugely valuable tool for all parents and certainly not something reserved for professional storytellers. One of the reasons I became a storyteller was because I often couldn’t find the perfect story to help with a particular situation or emotion that one of my boys was intensely experiencing at that time. Our bedtime stories are often about using the power of story to access those sacred little souls floating around in those oceans of emotion and it’s particularly a lovely time to access that part of ourselves too.


I like to use songs also at this time of the day to help soothe any restlessness or questions about that huge world these little children are slowly coming to grips with. I find for myself that music opens the heart allowing the words of a story to then go even deeper. It’s for this reason that I’ve followed the format of songs and then stories throughout The Seasonal Collection of nourishing seasonal tales and songs for children. Music is a fantastic way to bring a child ‘into their body’ which then allows them to drop into that ‘listening space’ so perfect for receiving story medicine.

For me good healthy stories are the ones that not only bring joy and laughter but also stir the soul on a deeper level. Healthy stories speak directly to those big questions that for a small child perhaps cannot be articulated either out loud or comprehended at all in a mental way, but are still constantly felt with the ability to cause the confusion and uncertainty that lead to challenging behaviours. And because young children simply cannot speak of such uncertainties or fears in that mental or adult way, story and metaphor are the perfect way to help them move through such times. Stories make us feel good and bad, strong and vulnerable, safe and scared – and it’s so important that stories for kids also stimulate and address these healthy emotions too.

Encountering these often confronting emotional states in the land of story will only help a child (and adult) face these real life emotions when they arise in their everyday lives.

Happy healthy storytelling to you!

x Annie


Annie Bryant is a storyteller & musician from Mullumbimby, Australia who loves to share her seasonally-inspired stories and songs for children at live performances and on The Seasonal Collection of Winter, Spring, Summer & Autumn recordings. To listen to her stories & songs or find out more click here   


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