Telling Stories with HIF

You may well have seen headlines in newspapers over the past few years claiming that screentime is damaging our children’s imaginations, or complaining that on World Book Day, children would prefer to dress as YouTubers than Hermione Granger or Willy Wonka. But hope is not lost: February is home to National Storytelling Week, and Harrogate International Festivals works hard to promote literacy with our Community Libraries and our Big Write for children in Year 4 & 5 around Harrogate.

The good news is that we human beings are natural storytellers – before the Internet, before television, before radio, before print, we were telling stories to one another face-to-face. Folktales are handed down from generation to generation – if you’ve ever seen Jack and the Beanstalk in pantomime, or heard about Tom Thumb, then you’ve heard some classic folktales from the British Isles. Every country and culture has their own unique tales; from Cinderella in France to the Maid of the Mist in the USA.

Stories are, in fact, central to human existence and the way we make sense of the world. In a landmark study in 1944, Massachusetts college students were shown a video of shapes moving across a screen. When asked to describe what was happening on-screen, the scientists leading the experiment discovered that many people were quick to see a story unfold.

In those simple shapes, viewers often saw characters with emotion and motivation – triangles “blinded by rage and frustration” moving alongside “worried” circles. You can view the original video here and see for yourself if you’re a ‘natural storyteller’.

So, while National Storytelling Week may have passed us by, why not brush up on your storytelling skills this month? National Storytelling Week may be popular in schools for children, but you’re never too old to tell an excellent story. Being a top storyteller has been highlighted as a sign of good leadership by high-profile platforms like Forbes and Harvard Business Review and also makes you an excellent dinner party guest – so what’s stopping you?

As Harvard Business Review advises in their article:


  • Consider your audience — choose a framework and details that will best resonate with your listeners.
  • Identify the moral or message your want to impart.
  • Find inspiration in your life experiences.


  • Assume you don’t have storytelling chops — we all have it in us to tell memorable stories.
  • Give yourself the starring role.
  • Overwhelm your story with unnecessary details.

Good luck with your storytelling!