This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

My grandpa was a very important person in my life. I admired him greatly. One of the things about him that I enjoyed the most was his storytelling. He had lots and lots of stories and shared multiple with us every time we visited. As he got older we often heard the same stories over again, but the way he told them and the amusement and care with which he shared them kept us engaged every time…it didn’t matter that we already knew the outcome.

My grandpa mainly shared stories of his life and the things he experienced. Most of them were very funny, others very touching, and they were always told with a bit of humility and humor at his own expense. I’ve shared a couple of these stories with my kids, and I plan to share more, but so far my own storytelling has focused mostly on the make believe.

At a young age my son began asking for “jo-jo” stories (yes that’s jo-jo as in the fried potato). I still have no idea how the thought of requesting a story about potatoes came in to his brain, but it is a funny and adorable quirk that I will always remember about him. My personal favorite has to be the story I made up about my son becoming the next Marvel Avenger: “Potato Man”…a superhero who launches potatoes at his foes to defeat them. He enjoyed the story so much that he asked his Mom to make a “Potato Man” costume for him.

I believe that storytelling plays a big part in helping children develop their literacy skills. In addition to reading and having lots of books around, a child who hears lots of stories has their mind opened up to all sorts of possibilities. Whether they are learning about an important moment or time in their family’s history, or having fun getting lost inside a fantasy world…hearing stories from the important people in their lives builds a child’s sense of wonder and love for their family.

This is fatherhood…