Be a Hero to Your Kids and Teach Them What's Important with Just One Story at a Time.

Snow White and the Huntsman: Are Fairy Tales Too Violent?

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

are fairytales too violent apple huntsman With the upcoming release of the “Snow White and the Huntsman”, movie, the issue of violence in fairytales comes up again. Are fairy-tales too violent for children?

In short, fairytales are not too violent for children when properly told to them in an emotionally safe environment by a trusted source who has the mental welfare of the child in mind. Snuggled in with Daddy telling stories is a great place to be safe. I’ll come back to that in a moment.

The deeper answer really comes in asking the right question. The correct question is: “Are fairytales in some movies too violent for children?” That answer is simple: Yes, movies that create violent images based on fairytales are too violent for young children.

It is often suggested to me that there is no difference between hearing a violent fairytale from a storyteller and seeing a violent movie made from the same fairytale. That’s simply wrong.

We need to remember that children do not hear and see traditional fairytales told by a storyteller (parent or professional) in the same way they see and hear a movie playing before them. In mentally processing fairytales, children only process the amount of violence their minds want to handle. A child hearing that the huntsman sets out to kill Snow White sees in their mind only what they want to see. For a small child, the permanence of death is unknown and unknowable. Nestled within the safety of the storytelling experience, they may know something “bad” could happen but they also know that they are safe. This safety along with their brief life experience creates the filter for children to understand the story at a level their minds find acceptable. They see what their minds want them to see.

The problem with fairytales and violence comes from children watching another person’s vision of that violence. Big-screen movie violence leaves no safety zone for the child to process the story. In a movie, the huntsman goes out to kill Snow White in non-filtered images and sounds of the violent looks and shouts, the sharp knife and a physical altercation.

A movie, for small children, is also an overwhelming experience of sight and sound, permanently preserved in its final form. In the movie theater, there is no place for the young child to escape the images and noise. Their fear-filter is overrun and no longer in control.

Conversely, a storyteller changes his or her story based on how the audience is reacting. For example, if I am telling a “scary” fairytale to a group of children, I will be watching my audience respond. If I see, from the children’s reactions, that some portion of the story is causing stress or fear, I will change the way I am telling the story. I will adjust the words, the pacing, the emotional non-verbal cues as I go along. True storytelling is created with the audience as it happens so it is never the same experience from audience to audience.

The role of violence in fairytales, when told to children, is to help them process fear. While we’d like our children to never be afraid or to experience violence, this is simply not a reality. With each hearing of some violence in a fairytale, the child’s unconscious controls the response as “I have had this fear before. I am safe here in this moment. I can survive this.” Each time, the child learns a bit more about how to grow up and how to deal with complex emotions.

Learning to conquer fear and to take actions is a human need. Without this overcoming, we would still be hiding in stone-age caves or extinct. When the storytelling audience is a bit older, perhaps in the early teenage or preteen years, they will usually ask for scary stories. Being scared, asking to be frightened, demonstrates their own growing mastery of fear. As well, this age group also enjoys the “justice,” no matter how warped that justice is to modern minds, that usually is delivered to evildoers in the fairytale.

Now, I am not advocating a free-wheeling give-young-children-all-the-fairytale-violence-you-want approach. As a caregiver, teacher or parent, you must judge the readiness level of the children in your care. While I believe that the scary portions of fairytales can actually be beneficial to growing children, there is a time and place for each child to embrace these stories. Use wisdom and caution in this process.

Fairytales help a child to learn the life-lesson, “I can get through this.” In many cases, the message is “We can get through this.” Isn’t that a good lesson for people of any age?


About the Author: Sean Buvala
Storyteller and author Sean Buvala has been a professional storyteller since 1986. Along with business coaching, he’s the author of the parenting resource, “DaddyTeller: How to be a Hero to Your Kids and Teach Them What’s Really Important By Telling Them One Simple Story at a Time” which trains Dads to better communicate with their children via storytelling. Daddyteller is available at

Connecting Dads to the Literacy Process

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Can you teach literacy activities with men?

He was about 25 years old and had a four-year-old daughter. Young Dad’s question, asked to me in a low whisper, was a universal “Dad” question. Most Dads end up asking me this question in one of its many forms.

I had just finished a presentation for young college students who were studying to be teachers. We talked briefly about work in helping Dads to talk with their kids, to put the storybooks down, look their kids in the eye and tell stories.

In the session, most everyone else asked some type of question except Young Dad. When we were done and the group was leaving, Young Dad pulls me aside and says, “I have bought tons of books for my daughter and we read every night. And I already do some of the no-book storytelling. She loves it and will tell me some stories sometimes. But I still have this question in my mind, ‘What If I Do It Wrong?”

WIIDIW- the question dads always want to know. Men worry that if they don’t get it right something terrible and awful will happen. Or, they worried that they will be laughed at. He’s worried about being judged by his spouse. He’s worried that his kid will not like his storytelling because it’s not as energetic as what the child sees on TV. Alternatively, his own inner critic beats him up for every word stumble or verbal typo. WIIDIW looms in his brain and keeps him from doing the best with his kid. WIIDIW is the enemy of connecting cads to literacy.

So, if you are in a position in a school, Title 1 program or some other Early Childhood Education situation, here are a three tips to help Dads connect to literacy and get past the WIIDIW block.

1. Your program must have a clear, observable, measurable objective.
Do you want Dads to mentally check out of your program? If so, then advertise something ambiguous such as “Our program will discuss the research and history of literacy education and how it might effect the modern family.” Your program and outreach will do much better if you take a hint from marketers. “Our program on Wednesday will show Fathers three easy ways to help their kids get better grades in school – starting at bedtime that night.” You could try “Tonight’s Family Meeting program gives Dads three no-fail ways to be a hero in the eyes of their children.”

2. Your program must be fun for the participants.
Do you really want to reach men? I have sat in on my share of dry, lecturing, power-pointing family presentations given by poorly trained speakers. Yawn. The average guy wants a program that is not too heavy and lets him laugh off his nervousness. Be funny, genuine, succinct and focused if you want to talk to men about their families.

2. You must provided chances for Dads to succeed.
If you want dads to embrace your ideas, then give them ways to do some hands-on experience of storytelling stories and literacy. In my programs teaching dads my DaddyTeller process, fathers get to practice one story from my book. I tell (demonstrate) a short story, teach them to instantly learn the story and then practice telling it to each other in small groups. There will be lots of laughter and at times it will appear even a bit unfocused. But, after 30 minutes of this process, Dads have a story that they can then tell to their little ones that very evening. Give Dads success and immediate application. Just one “Daddy, I love that story you tell me about the mouse” will get him coming back to you for more help and information.

3. You must allow chances for Dads to ask questions privately.
For some men, information is power. They learned this skill back in their boyhood pack days. To ask you questions in front of a large group, tacitly admitting they don’t have information, can intimidate them. So, be sure you clearly state that questions can be answered afterwards- and then take the time to answer questions. Just like my experience I mentioned to you at the start of this article, you may have your own Young Dad lurking in your audience.

Men want to be good fathers and they want their kids to be successful readers, writers and problem solvers. Don’t give up on the fathers in your school, group or organization. Learning to speak to dads and breaking through the WIIDIW blocks will create new opportunities for promoting literacy in your community.

Sean Buvala (contact him) is the author of “DaddyTeller: How to Be a Hero to Your Kids….By One Simple Story at a Time.” He is a nationally experienced workshop presenter (25 years!) who would be glad to come teach your teachers and staff how to connect dads to the literacy process. He will even come do a workshop for your dads, too. His man-size bedtime-stories nightgown is worth the fun.

Free Parenthood Video: Do I Need to Act Crazy to Tell Bedtime Kids’ Stories?

Tags: , , , , , ,

Bedtime Kids’ Stories: Do you have to be a wild and crazy dad to tell good stories to your children? In this free parenthood video, Sean teaches dads to be themselves when telling stories to children.

Get the DaddyTeller Paperback at via this link here.

You can buy the DaddyTeller Ebook at this link now.

If Amazon is sold out, order a paperback copy of this book direct from the printer. Please click on this link now.

All the free videos are listed on this page here.

Book Review for DaddyTeller

Tags: , ,

When Daddies Tell Stories

DaddyTeller: How to be a Hero to Your Kids and Teach Them What’s Really Important By Telling Them One Simple Story at a Time
Author: Sean Buvala
Ebook, 73 pages, $14.95

Quick—think of a story your father told you when you were a kid. Got it? Then you’re one of the lucky ones.

What will your children say to the same question twenty years from now? And when they look at you with those big eyes and plead, “Daddy, tell me a story,” what do you say? Do you grab a tried-and-true Golden Book of someone else’s words, or do you launch into a colorful yarn that keeps your kids entranced until the end and coming back for more?

Have you ever wished someone would put together a story-time instruction book for Daddies? Well, someone has.

DaddyTeller: How to be a Hero to Your Kids and Teach Them What’s Really Important By Telling Them One Simple Story at a Time, written by award-winning professional storyteller Sean Buvala, is a collection of eight fables, edited and arranged specifically for Daddies to share with their children. They’re easy to learn and fun to tell.

But DaddyTeller carries a double punch. Stories like “The Donkey Who Thought He Was a Lion,” “Apples For the Princess,” and “The Fisherman and His Wife” are not only bonding tools for parent and child. They also demonstrate the value of honesty, kindness, and integrity, warn of the danger of greed, and encourage a sense of self-worth that is all the more valuable to your children when it comes from you.

Each chapter presents one story in three different ways. First, the story is written out in its entirety, just as you would tell it to your child. Next, the same story is broken down into a “Brick and Mortar Reminder List” to jog your memory as you learn the sequence of events. Finally, the story is written out once again, but this time it is studded with action prompts and suggestions for funny faces and squeaky voices to capture the imagination of your audience.

Not a performer? Don’t worry. Sean’s aim is to get you telling stories to your children as soon as possible, and this he does with warmth and humor. The “coaching” instructions sprinkled throughout each story, down to what to do with your hands, will have you up and running even if you’ve never told a story in your life.

The first two chapters of DaddyTeller are also designed to set you at ease. Chapter One is a “quick-start, ten-step get-going guide” that outlines exactly what to do first, from choosing the lesson you want to share with your child (like honesty or kindness) to the nuts and bolts of how to do it. Chapter Two digs a little deeper into what you can expect from this special time with your kids—pointing out, for example, that “a story told with bumps and mistakes is better than not telling at all.”

“Making mistakes is part of the process,” Sean writes. “Don’t wait to be perfect before telling stories to your kids.”

Nevertheless, DaddyTeller has been thoughtfully compiled to include all the help you need to make story time a success. There are eight stories in the e-book itself, plus a link to a ninth story. In addition, Sean offers support for the novice storyteller in the form of audio training and video instructions that can be found at You can also sharpen your technique by watching video clips of Sean himself telling stories.

Storytelling as a way to communicate right living has surely been around as long as humans have walked the planet. Campfire lessons on the difference between good and bad choices have gone a long way toward preservation of our species.

And, really, not much has changed over the millennia. The fact is that today children all too often look to movies and television for those lessons, with varying results. Yet a beloved story told over and over by Dad, delivering the message Dad wants delivered, can pierce the jumble of voices in a child’s mind and shine like a jewel.

DaddyTeller is a good idea realized just in time. The book promises to show Dads how to teach kids what’s really important, and in this Sean Buvala seems to be on the right track. One of the greatest DaddyTeller lessons your kids may take with them down the road is that nothing in the world can ever be more important than spending time with their own kids.

For this reviewer, the book’s cover picture says it all: Look into your child’s eyes. And let him look into yours. DaddyTeller gives you a way to do just that.

Durga Walker created this review at our request.

Three Tips To Enjoy the “Father Role” in Bedtime Stories

Tags: , , , , , ,

Are you part of the 45% of fathers who won’t do a very crucial parenting job? It’s a great “job” that is fun, increases their children’s school success and builds the important father/child relationship.

According to a May 2009 poll by the National PTA, nearly half of men surveyed report that they do not participate in the essential family ritual of bedtime stories. Hearing and telling bedtime stories helps children both bond with their parents and increase their school success. As well, surveys also indicate that children who have actively involved fathers do better in school and have less issues with drugs and alcohol as teens.

Sean Buvala, a professional national storyteller and author of the book “DaddyTeller: How to Be a Hero to Your Kids and Teach Them What’s Really Important by Telling One Simple Story at a Time,” shares these three tips to help dads be more involved in bedtime stories with their children:

1. Alternate between reading books and telling stories.

There is a great emphasis on picking up storybooks and reading stories to children. Reading to children is a good thing and should be part of every father’s daily (or at least weekly) plan. For an even bigger impact on your kids, put down the storybook and tell stories to your children. The DaddyTeller books contains eight stories and step-by-step directions to tell each story. Not only will you model communication skills for your children, but you will start developing an in-your-head collection of stories that you can share with them at a moment’s notice. As your confidence in storytelling and your story repertoire grows, you will be even more confident in participating in the important bedtime story ritual in your own home.

2. Make bedtime stories a two-way conversation.
In telling stories to your kids, they will start to learn the rhythm and flow of the stories you tell them. Learn to stop telling a story and ask, “What happens next?” Help your child to think about the future of characters in books or your oral stories. For example, in the “Lion and the Mouse” story by Aesop, ask your child to imagine and share with you how the Lion and Mouse might be friends in the future or to make up stories about where the mouse lives. You can download this story and instructions for free from .

3. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Although storytelling is a powerful tool to help you child succeed in school and life, bedtime stories should be fun. Take the pressure off yourself to be a faultless parent in every breath and action you take. In the DaddyTeller book, you will learn just how and when to use a funny story.

You can spend lots of time learning to tell the perfect story perfectly, but in the end, the relationship you are building and the time you spend together with your kids is more important than perfect storytelling techniques. Some fathers will worry more about getting it right than getting in front of their children. Look your child in the eye and tell them stories. If laughing and giggling occurs, that is a good thing, too. Sometimes the “father role” is just being the giggle-man with the funny bedtime stories.

Dads! Don’t be part of the nearly 50% of fathers that miss one of the most important parts of their child’s lives and development. Share stories with your kids to improve their future!

Sean Buvala is the author of DaddyTeller™, which teaches dads how to tell bedtime stories for children. You can find his book at

Telling Bedtime Stories: DaddyTeller Training Video

Tags: , , ,

When you buy the DaddyTeller book or Ebook, you get access to some free audio and video training. Here is a sample of one of these short videos. We talk about the father role in telling funny bedtime stories or any type of bedtime stories. Here’s the sample.

You can buy the DaddyTeller book at this link now.

Add to Cart

Video: Three Dad Tips

Tags: , , , , ,

Here’s a short video for fathers to learn some quick family communication skills. When you are done, please visit the front page and pick up our DaddyTeller Ebook.

3 Quick Ways for Dad to Communicate Better with His Child

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The world needs fathers. Study after study confirms the important role of the father in a family. Let’s improve your father-children relationship. Here are three quick and easy ways for Dads to relate better to their children.

1. Put down the distractions.
If you want to communicate better with your young kids, then learn to pay attention. Listening to a child while you channel surf, web surf or refrigerator surf is not really listening. Put down the remote or the mouse or close the ‘fridge door. Pay attention to what your child is saying. By the way, this rule changes a bit when your kids, especially your sons, are older. A great way to get your teens to talk is do a shared activity together. You’ll notice that I used the word “shared” in that sentence, right?

2. Look your child in the eye.
All the media your child is exposed to shares one thing in common: all of it has your child’s eyes and ears glued upon it. When you talk to your child, do you have their eye-contact? One of the greatest gifts we give to our children is looking them in the eye. Let them see you seeing them. Put down the storybook and tell them a story. Involve them in the tale. Advertisers are not hesitant to look your kids in the eye. You should do no less.

3. Make your child’s needs the priority.
As more and more dads, thankfully, become much more active in parenting, I read more about fathers who do not like kiddie things. I have read several posts, for example, about how some stay-at-home dads don’t like kid’s music and wish to substitute rock artists for kids musicians.

Although some of these daddy-blogger posts are written tongue-in-cheek, there is an underlying issue: kid things are not designed for dads. They are designed for kids. Don’t be in a hurry to bypass the usefulness of all the kiddie toys and noise that is out there.

The “Wheels On The Bus” song is driving you crazy? Let it make you crazy and let your kids listen to it a hundred times a day if they want. Raising four kids in our house, I can assure you that this phase doesn’t last long. Very soon, you’ll be dealing with the wheels on the car which is under your teen’s control as it is driven from your home.

The repetition of songs and stories is important for your child’s development and even future skills for learning and school. Be focused on what your kids need, not what you want.

In reality, all three of these ideas are really expressing the same need: Dads, give your kids the gift of your attention. You don’t need to be father of the year. You need to be the best daddy you can to your kids.

Sean Buvala, father of four and a professional storyteller, is the author of the book “DaddyTeller™: Be a Hero to Your Kids and Teach Them What’s Really Important by Telling Them One Simple Story at a Time.” Get your copy by visiting

© 2009 DaddyTeller. All Rights Reserved.

This blog is powered by Wordpress and Magatheme by Bryan Helmig.