R.M. Cole’s Storytime is a fine point of reference for any parent, teacher or carer wishing to create rich and engaging stories for the children that they read to. With its friendly tone, and Cole’s regular interjections of personal experience, the book succeeds in convincing you that it is a credible and positive source, packed full of terrific tips and easy to use story-starting ideas.
Cole tackles the day-to-day challenges of keeping a story going, with modern and comprehensive advice. He suggests ways around the problems of writer’s block, separation, and visits from non-family members, and couples these tips with examples from his own experience. Cole’s story ideas are near limitless, and are a great place to start for those who want to try, and also a great imagination-jogger for whenever you find yourself stuck in a creative rut. Telling a different story every day can be tough, so even the most imaginative storytellers could benefit from having an ample list of ideas written out in front of them.
Although the advice and suggestions are sound, the book does adopt a bit of a ‘self-help’ tone, which can be a turn-off for some people. It is worth being aware of this before you buy the book, as the tone can be jarring at times, and seemingly at odds with the concept of creative originality. Cole talks about positive visualisation, initially in terms of story writing, but ultimately he means for you to engage with the idea in your general life, and it can come across a bit preachy if it’s not the kind of thing you usually go for. Despite this, Cole’s advice on story writing is positive and useful, so it is worth grinning and bearing the mentions of therapy-prevention, and instead, keeping good notes on his creative ideas.
Cole strongly promotes these stories as sentimental co-creations, and you really get a sense of his passion for this idea through his writing. He suggests that stories should be engaging and interactive, and that there is a huge amount that we can teach our children, and learn about our children, through this shared experience. Cole recommends that you keep a record of your stories, not because they might be worth a huge amount of money someday, but because they will always carry a huge amount of sentimental value, for you and for your children. At the back of the book you are given a number of lined pages to start your record, and with Cole’s advice and ideas close to hand, you are ready to begin your own stories.
Reviewed by Wendy Chard. Spring 2011. Online exclusive
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