The 21st edition of an international storytelling festival was recently held in several Iranian provinces, including Khorasan Razavi in the northeast, with the main goal of preserving the traditional art.
Reza Qanbarzadeh, the head of the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults in Khorasan Razavi, says the culture of storytelling and use of story as a means of training new generations has been among the ancient cultures of Iranian people.
According to the official, story and storytelling are the main means for developing children’s imagination and making them familiar with the world around them.
“Some people consider storytelling as an entertainment but its most significant impact is creating a ground for the tellers and listeners to enjoy a common experience. During storytelling, the listeners not only receive information and sweet and bitter stories but also life experiences, cultures and values.”
Qanbarzadeh also said it’s wrong to view the art of storytelling just as an entertainment because the traditional art has always been used as a means of training and brining up new generations.
An instructor of storytelling and playwriting says story and storytelling is an art with a deep history in Iran.
“From Shahnameh (Book of Kings) to modern stories, all provide us with a chance to get familiar with characteristics that have passed through the maze of history. These characters become sweet and bitter and renew themselves. Throughout history, no art has managed to either replace or sideline the art of storytelling,” he noted.
“Storytelling prompts children to think more and thinking is the main feature that distinguishes humans from other animals. Thinking pushes children to raise more questions, makes them fear, raises their self-confidence and reminds them of the fact that their wishes – regardless of what they may be – are within reach. Stories narrated with a soft language can transfer the adults’ experiences to children and teenagers.”
Storytelling, which used to be one of the main training methods in the ancient time, has been marginalized in the contemporary era. Storytelling and reading can highly contribute to the culture of dialogue in the family leading to further social cohesion across a country.
In an interview with Azad News Agency (ANA), Iranian Vice-President for Women and Family Affairs Massoumeh Ebtekar said promoting the culture of storytelling within the families can enhance the mental, spiritual and psychological progress of children.
“On the other hand, we can also promote communication skills among family members. Story and storytelling are the main elements strengthening family cohesion,” she added.
‘People’s lives in Iran and the world’ was the central theme of the 21st International Storytelling Festival organized by the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults. During the festival, the participants shared their storytelling experiences in three categories of specialized, general and scientific.