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One four year old I was working with had the beautiful idea of suddenly incorporating a love song as she called it into her story. She had a significant speech disorder. But she was on the way to a career in entertainment.

Your child may want to tell you stories, or hear the same song or story over and over. Or sing you songs. Or draw pictures.

It doesn’t matter how good the pictures are or whether the song or story has an ending or whether it seems to go on forever or whether a story and a song get mixed up together. The important thing is that you or your child are doing something creative with speech and language.

From a theoretical perspective quite different to mine, Victoria Joffe points the way here in her 2011 book ‘Narrative Intervention’.

One interesting facet of story telling is that stories commonly progress from one time plane to another and by the interplay between the characters. Tense, the main expression of time in English, and the ‘nominative case’, as this is known in the pronouns I, he, she, we and they, are both critical elements in the basic structure of both sentences and stories. Story telling is the most natural way of rehearsing these and other critical elements of English structure.

A story can be developed in a child’s own book – which can be very valuable in relation to reading and writing.

A story in a book is something worth discussing – why does it go one way rather than another – as well as being something to be shared and enjoyed for its own sake with its jokes, insights and revelations.

A nine-year I was working with once wanted us to read Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter together. After reading a bit, we would then discuss what we had read as literature (Not my forte – the discussion was a revelation for me). Our work together did not involve grammar in any direct way. But in a few weeks his clear and obvious issues with speech and grammar had all just faded away.

A nice idea

The picture for the story here is from a girl of around nine, not a patient, who I met when I was running small event a long time ago at the Lambeth Country Show in Brockwell Park a short walk from where I now have my clinic. I had occasion to ask her for an idea for a story. We started to develop an animation of her idea on a laptop. I think she was from somewhere near Wimbledon. She will now be an adult. I would love to know who she was and whether I can credit her. The picture is my poor interpretation of her nice idea.

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