I do a lot of driving.
I do a lot of driving with my four-year-old in the car seat – the hostage to my daily routine.
She doesn’t want to be in the car.
These days she does. In fact, she enjoys the ride because we have a growing collection of storyteller Jenni Cargill Strong’s fabulous CDs thus allowing Ivy to enjoy the wonder of story while I concentrate on the road.
I also have that lovely warm feeling that my daughter isn’t in the back on a DVD; she’s ensconced in the creative and wondrous process of listening to story.
It’s funny because I listen too; I am kind of forced to. And even though they are children’s stories, there’s a deeper narrative in what Jenni creates herself or the folk stories she chooses and adapts for a new, young and contemporary listener.
I was driving the other day and I had this small but slightly profound realisation about story and its importance.
I watch my daughter in the car listen to the same story over and over, like a mantra, and I wonder what it is that has her transfixed?
It occurred to me that story isn’t just amusement; it serves a much more valuable role. Stories tell children about their world, it tells them about human behaviour, about sadness, joy, disappointment, anger. It tells them about consequence. It creates a pathway of understanding, a kind of emotional and intellectual anchor in the overwhelming sea of existence. Story is the way we pass on mythology. It’s why it was so important to indigenous peoples. Story teaches us things that can’t be told in a scientific factual linear nature. It tells us about spirit, or place, or feeling, and about connectedness.
Alongside heroes who triumph in the face of danger, story also shows us the landscape of loss, fear and despair.
I wait anxiously for Jenni’s next story albums, and I’m thrilled that she seems to be keeping up with my Ivy’s passion for story consumption.
This Christmas Jenni has released Reaching for the Moon, a double CD of wisdom tales that get kids to think about their connection to the environment and to inspire them to believe that they can make a difference. Environmental issues are one of Jenni’s passions and something that she manages to weave effectively into her stories, helping nurture the compassion and consciousness of our younger generations. Filled with song, music, and a lively sense of humour, Jenni’s lovely new CD will play for 111 minutes. That’s a trip to Brisbane. That’s a decent afternoon nap. Compared to popping a DVD in the recorded, Jenni’s story tree CDs are the food equivalent to choosing a McDonald’s thickshake or a delicious organic mango smoothie. Now what kind of brain food do you want to feed your kids?