By Olga and Mildreth
In the Mexican culture, it is a tradition to grow up listening to cuentos (oral stories) from close family members. For the most part, the children sit around their grandparents to listen to classical or made up stories. These cuentos become part of their life and as they grow up, they in turn begin to retell them to their own children. Thus values are passed on from generation to generation in a fun and memorable way. The children enjoy listening to them not knowing that their parents are using them as a means to educate them. Numerous studies have shown that cuentos have many benefits in the education and family life of a child. The main advantage is the capacity that a cuento has to transmit personal values that would raise better citizens. For example, “The Three Little Pigs” is a classical story that not only entertains, but teaches children the importance of hard work in order to succeed. In addition, a cuento can help introduce new ideas and knowledge to children due to their form. The simplicity of the story allows the listener to memorize and recall details more easily. A cuento can also help create bonds between the listerner and the storyteller. A cuento is easy to make up and allows for personalization. The personalization process makes children feel special and the center of attention. The children can be asked to create their own characters and name them, which makes the information being heard more meaningful. This can result extremely beneficial to families of working parents whose schedules permits them to give their children very little attention. Finally, since cuentos are usually told without the aid of pictures or books, it forces the children to pay close attention to the details. If they want to be transported to the world of fantasy where the cuento takes place; then they will need to open their mind and center their attention. Parents and teachers can use this opportunity to stimulate the visual and creative aspect of the children by filling their cuento with colorful characters and detailed events that the children would have to imagine. It is true that our world is changing, but that doesn’t mean that values should be lost. Let us use this valuable resource that cuentos are to instill them in our children. Below are the links to some websites that specialize in the art of cuentos, please feel free to explore them.