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Reading Stories

Where this thread of story-telling that connects us to our earliest ancestors is cut, families, even communities fall apart. One has to start early, when the children are small, and continue. Even after the children have learnt to read themselves, continue reading stories to them.

Let us do away with those electronic devices, the games, the phones, the tablets, the TVs, let’s take out an old fashioned book. Put on your reading glasses, open then book and read to the children…

The Kellerdoscope


“Oma-Ebersdorf ließt vor und Svend lauscht…”

(Grandma Ebersdorf is reading to him and Svend is listening…)

How much is in these three little dots…

Rolf Keller’s mother was living in Ebersdorf, near Chemnitz (nowadays a part of the city). His other grandmother was living in Hamburg, so there was “Oma Ebersdorf” and “Oma Hamburg”.

This pencil sketch by Rolf Keller, made in the 1930s, is showing my father as a child, sitting in a chair and listening while his grandmother is reading stories to him. Maybe when he was much smaller, he was sitting already in this same chair, and now, already a bit too large for it, he was making himself small again inside that chair to listen to the stories. Then, his grandmother took the heavy book from the bookshelf, put on her glasses, sat down besides him and started reading…

He told me about it…

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5 thoughts on “Reading Stories

  1. I am Nana to my two young grandchildren three days a week so I have the extraordinary leisure of spending one on one time with them for very long periods of time. I am continually amazed at the quality this adds to my life because in truth the time we spend together is completely for ourselves…for reading, for dancing, for walking and exploring. I watch them as we read together. What is this great magic in story? In word?

    What a wonderful illustration!!! The postures, the expressions, the eye looking on in expectation, the lift of the reader’s foot, the sweet bending into the story hunched in the chair listening….absolutely superb!

    • I remember the great times I had with my daughter when she was growing up. Reading to her or going for walks, or into a zoo or a museum…

      Indeed I find this particular sketch outstanding. It has been “framed”, I think by my grandfather himself, into a passepartout. Probably his mother had read these stories to him and his brother as well when they were small. In order to sketch, he had to keep out of the story telling, at least for a while, but it seems to have added to the quality of the drawing.

      An interesting detail is that two different postures of the arm were taken (compare, where he also did this with the woman’s hand). This is something one can do in a sketch, but not in a “finished” drawing.

  2. I have fond memories of my mum lying in bed reading to me every night. I’ve tried to the same with my son and he resists! He prefers playing games on the bloody phone. We’ve go a rule about bed time but half the time he ends up grabbing the book out of my hand. I’ve resorted to just telling him stories, little ones that I make up with him as the main character.

    • I don’t think it is a good idea to let a child in that age play such games. If you stop it, he might have something like withdrawal symptoms for some time and that would be a stressfull time, but maybe you should try to introduce some rules. I think both electronic games and TV should be limited. I think nowadays that might be an uphill battle, but I think parents should try.

      • We do have rules in place, time limits, educational games only, etc. but it definitely is a battle. At his age he doesn’t understand why he has a limit, the best I can do is distract him. On the plus side though I have noticed that the educational games do help him with colours, numbers, etc.

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