The Gift of Stories

I am engaging in the SoL classroom challenge this month and it is very exciting! For the challenge I promised my students that I would write a story based on each of them (so 23 stories throughout the month). It’s a good thing I had the March SoL to train me properly! I have no idea what I am going to write about before I start. Usually I think about a few things I know about the child, think of their character traits, consider how I might describe their character using “show don’t tell” (as I taught my students) and then think of a problem they might have.

Below is today’s story. As I reread it, I can see that I am a bit influenced by Robert Munsch. In fact, I had to go check that I hadn’t ripped-off the ENOUGH bit from one of his stories. As far as I can tell, I haven’t.

The Gift of Stories

Once upon a time there was a boy named Jimmy. Jimmy was a very good story teller. He would tell amazing stories about nature, especially trees. In his stories, Jimmy brought the trees to life! They would talk and have feelings and they could even be brave! In his stories, the trees were as beautiful as his imagination.

What Jimmy didn’t know was that every time he told a story about a tree, a real tree would actually grow in the forest! As he described a tree, somewhere in the forest, a little seed would start to wiggle and shake, then crrrrack, the little tree sprout would push itself out of the seed case and up to the sky. As Jimmy gave a story-tree feelings, a tree in the forest would push its roots into the soft, cozy soil. Whenever Jimmy gave a story-tree a friend, a tree in the forest would grow its branches and leaves, and birds and red squirrels would come and play amongst the greenery.

One day, Jimmy discovered video games. The video games were SUPERCOOLAMAZINGAWESOME!!! He started to play video games all the time. He played video games while he ate his dinner. He played video games while he brushed his teeth. He played video games while he tied his shoelaces. He played video games while he walked his dog. He played video games while putting on a t-shirt. He even played video games while playing other video games!

Eventually, people around Jimmy decided he was playing too many video games.
“ENOUGH!” said his mother.
“ENOUGH!” said his father.
“ENOUGH!” said his sister and brother.
“ENOUGH!” said his teachers.
“Huh? Jus’a minute. I have to finish this level,” said Jimmy, not looking away from the screen.
“That’s it!” said his mother. “No more video games. You are going outside. Go play in the forest.”
“FINE! I don’t care! I like it in the forest!” which was true, because he loved nature, but he had forgotten about it because of the SUPERCOOLAMAZINGAWESOME video games.

Jimmy went out into the forest and sat under a big, green, old oak tree. In the tree, a tiny yellow and grey bird was building a nest. On another branch, an orange-billed Blackbird was singing a loud, clear song. It looked like a beautiful peaceful day. But Jimmy, who was very connected to nature, realised there was something wrong. The air smelled sweet and sour at the same time. Standing up, Jimmy reached out and put his hand on the oak tree. It felt sad.

‘What could be wrong?’ Jimmy thought to himself.
Look closely,’ a thought whispered in his ear, seemingly from nowhere.

Jimmy turned and looked carefully at the forest. Then he saw it. All around him were withered young trees – dry, wrinkled and dying. Their thin, weak branches were reaching towards the sun, but Jimmy could tell that their hearts were broken. 

“What has happened here?” he cried out to the forest. Silence. No one answered.

Jimmy sat back down under the oak tree, feeling terribly sad. ‘There’s nothing I can do,’ he thought to himself. The sight of all the dying trees made him lean back his head and close his eyes. In his mind he could see his favourite story-tree character, its leaves dancing and shining in the bright sunlight. 

“Once there was a beautiful tree in a hidden forest,” he whispered to the wind. He told a story of a happy tree, with leaves that liked to play tag with the raindrops. The tree would always lose, but it was happy all the same. At the end of the story, Jimmy opened his eyes and sighed. Then he gasped with surprise! In front of him were dozens of strong, young, healthy trees with thick green leaves growing before his very eyes. 

Tell another story!’ a thought whispered in his ear, again seemingly from nowhere. So Jimmy told another story, this time about a tree who hated messes and was always trying to sweep the forest floor with its branches. The young trees shook their branches with laughter and grew 10 feet taller. So Jimmy told another story, then another, and another, until he couldn’t see the sky above him for the thick blanket of leaves. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

Jimmy smiled up at the trees. He knew what he had to do.

Every day, from that day on, Jimmy would go out into the forest, tell his stories, and watch the trees grow. He became the guardian of the forest and a friend to every animal, insect, plant and caring human under the trees.

And every once in a while, when he had absolutely nothing else to do, he would play a video game.




14 thoughts on “The Gift of Stories

  1. My word, what a beautiful story! I can’t wait to read it to my own video game enthusiast! It’s easy to see how well you understand kids and the language you choose to tell Jimmy’s story works like an invitation for young readers and older ones, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story… Well done. The theme and style put me in mind of THE WRETCHED STONE by Chris Van Allsburg. Have you read it? It is a story of another time that (age of too much TV before we handheld our devices)… and might pair well with your story. I look forward to reading more of your stories for your students.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this story. I’m glad I remembered to go back and catch up after the second one. And 23! That’s quite a commitment! I’m impressed. Your story is, indeed, reminiscent of Munsch, but it’s also a little more complex. I love the way you use repetition as an invitation into the story for young readers but incorporate a larger idea, too. This makes me think that Jimmy might like this true story about a boy who loved trees and built treehouses in Central Park:

    Liked by 1 person

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