Puppetaria's performance at Indonesia's International Storytelling Festival in Jakarta on Saturday. (JG Photo/Diana Mariska)

Stories of Heroes the Highlight at Indonesia's Storytelling Festival


NOVEMBER 03, 2019

Jakarta. Local and international storytellers gathered together to entertain children and educate parents about the importance of storytelling during the two-day Indonesia's International Storytelling Festival at the National Museum in Jakarta on Nov. 2-3.

More than 50 storytellers performed in front of audiences of thousands made up of both children and adults at the festival, which this year carries the official theme of "Stories of Heroes."

The festival's international contingent were made up of Roger Jenkins from Singapore, Jeff Gere from the United States, Deepa Kiran from India and Ng Kok Keong from Malaysia.

Local performers included Aceh's famous storyteller PM Toh, puppeteers troupe Puppeteria, who worked with Sesame Street Indonesia from 2006 to 2010, and Kak Aio, the co-founder of Ayo Dongeng Indonesia ("Let's Tell a Story Indonesia" or AyoDI for short).

Festival director Yanie said this weekend's festivities marked the peak of a series of events organized by AyoDI.

"This is the seventh edition of the festival. With the 'Stories of Heroes' theme, we want to instill heroic values in children through our storytellers. Not only the characters are important, but also the moral messages, such as bravery and honesty," Yanie said in Jakarta on Saturday.

"We hope parents can tell stories to their children at home, too, to create a stronger bond with them. Storytelling can also help parents to not be so patronizing when communicating with their children," Yanie said.

The festival had four separate stages for all-ages shows, puppetry shows, storytelling in English and storytelling for children from three to seven years old.

Storytelling and Brain Development

A study on human neurons led by Dr. G. Reid Lyon from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the US discovered that bedtime stories may help improve brain development.

Roger Jenkins, who is also the co-founder of the Federation of Asian Storytellers (Feast), said storytelling offers many benefits for children. 

"Einstein said if you want to raise intelligent children, read them stories; and if you want to raise more intelligent children, tell them more stories. Storytelling is very much a parent-and-child activity, a great way to bond. When you hear a story, you start to visualize and imagine. Later in school, a child who listens to stories can easily visualize, say, a math question, whereas a kid who has not done that, has not used his imagination, will struggle," Jenkins said.

Ana from puppeteers troupe Puppetaria said storytelling can be used to train the children's imagination.

"Storytelling trains children to use their imagination. If you want to teach your children moral values, tell them a story," she said.