Human values can be induced through storytelling: Bhavna Singh

INTERVIEW WITH A CHENNAIITE AUTHOR

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Bhavna Singh, author of Story Express

Stories can be told through sound, words and visuals.  Stories expressed through sound are mostly songs and spoken tales.  Novels, short-stories, ballards and poetry are stories expressed with words. Finally combining words, sound and visuals are stories that are told through films, television series, plays and musicals. In today’s context, we could even include videos and other forms of digital content.  

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“Writing has no barriers. All you need is passion”, says Bhavna Singh, a debutante writer. Her book, Story Express, a chronicle of short stories for children, was launched recently. Bhavna Singh is an ardent believer in  inculcating values and morals among children through storytelling. Currently Director — Communications, Organisation of Pharmaceutical producers of India, Bhavna talks to Citizen Matters about her book and how technology could be used to take storytelling to a wider audience.

Excerpts from the interview:

How was the response to your book?

The response to Story Express has been positive and very encouraging.  My audience (children in the age group of 10-12 years), who have read the book loved it.  Children found the characters in the stories relatable and real. My objective has been to tell a story in simple words.

Do moral stories touch a chord with teenagers? What form of storytelling works for them?

Stories have the power to touch a chord within all of us.  No one really outgrows the story telling phase. We have grown up with stories, and we continue to communicate using stories.  It is important here to pause and understand why we remember stories. In fact, another interesting input is that we do not remember all stories.  Stories that are well-written, realistic and relatable are those that linger in our memories. It’s the same for all. While stories can be presented in digital and e-form that caters to the youth, the premise of good storytelling remains the same: simple to read, easy to understand and presentable characters.

The new forms of storytelling, are they same as the traditional ways of retaining the emotional connect?

According to me, the forms of storytelling have adapted to the technology and the mediums available today.  As mentioned earlier, the ingredients of a good story continue to play a pivotal role in effective storytelling.  These days for example, it’s a proven fact that millennials have a short attention span, hence, today most communication is short and crisp — either a short video or even infographics.  Graphic novels with visuals and less content is appealing to the youth.

The current e-generation kids need to be re-introduced to books, other than text books, that could teach them simple yet valuable aspects of life.  Story Express focuses on values like friendship, bravery, love and respect and the stories make you fall in love with the characters.

What, according to you, is the best medium for storytelling — verbal, non verbal or narrative?

The medium for a story depends on the story.  Some stories are best told through strong narratives and some simply through pictures.  The objective of the stories also plays a part in the choice of medium.

How important is storytelling in a child’s life?

Storytelling is integral to a child’s life.  Technology can only complement storytelling. It is an enabler and cannot replace learning through stories.  

What do you think is the audience like for storytelling in today’s world? Are there age barriers?

In my opinion, storytelling cuts across age, sex, geographies and class.   We as adults love stories as much as kids. All of us love to hear stories, we love to tell them too. In fact, storytelling is emerging as an effective communications technique that is being adapted by big brands while they talk to their consumers.

What is the significance of moral stories in schools?

Life itself is a great place to begin with for moral stories.  When we look around us, we have enough content to build our stories on, and enough of values that can be simply illustrated to make us better people.  As school is the first institution in which a child receives formal education, storytelling plays a pivotal role.

What should be the motive of a storyteller? To change the listener’s perspective or to entertain or both?

A good story plants a seed of thought in the mind of the audience.  It catalyses thinking and shares a perspective. This should be the motive of any storyteller.  While some feel storytelling is to be persuasive or to provoke transformation, I think a story well told is a story that makes one want to attempt to think a little away from the routine and usual.

How is your observance on the reading habit in today’s children?

With so many distractions, so many interesting ways of conversing, I hear many of my friends say they need to ensure that their wards read every day.  It’s another item on the ‘good parenting list.’ Nothing in life can be made enjoyable if it is forced or thrust upon anyone. Reading should be made fun.  Then it simply becomes a part of your life. It becomes a routine as it is for all of us in today’s times to keep staring into our mobile phones or reading messages over WhatsApp.

Tell us of any event or story that inspired you to get into writing.

I love children and I love stories.  My inspiration has been my son, my niece and my mother.  My son and my niece, because they always made me narrate stories. I think I inherited the skill from my mother.

Can you give you an example of how storytelling could bring a change in a child’s behaviour?

I have an example in my own home.  After reading one of my stories, my grandmother and my twelve-year old’s perspective towards family and bonding has undergone a change.  He makes an attempt and takes time out to spend quality moments with his grandma. And I can already see that it has made a positive impact in his life.

Story Express is now available for sale online on various online stores with a Kindle version also available. The physical copies will be available in leading book stores across the country in the next couple of weeks.

 


About S Chandramouli 1 Article
S Chandramouli works with Amazon and in his free time, engages with all issues that would interest citizens.