The power of storytelling in raising smart, compassionate kids

To many parents, there is nothing more fulfilling other than instilling the right set of values in their children. That is why right from their pregnancy, all the way to the formative years of their kids and beyond, they do their best to shape their minds so they grow to be healthy and smart with a heart for a kinder world.

Of course, this also comes with exposing their children to many activities that would plant the right seeds for them. One of them is through reading books — an activity in which a child’s colorful imaginations run free. Rey Bufi, the founder of nonprofit organization, The Storytelling Project, and also a father himself, shares this belief as he harps the love and joy of reading with kids in far-flung communities in the Philippines.

Growing up, Rey admits that he was not much of a reader. But somehow in 2012, he found himself establishing a volunteer organization that aims to raise a nation of readers. “As a child, I always loved history and though I was not entirely a reader, I was fond of listening to stories of hope and inspiration about great, compassionate leaders,” Rey shared. “Service has always been my love language. It was in college when I was having a hard time and reading helped me cope. I realized, had I been a reader earlier, I wouldn’t have had a hard time. And that is how my passion for stories and service came together,” he added.

Today, Rey continues with his passion for sharing stories.  He recently participated as a host and storyteller in Enfagrow A+ Four’s Tales of Kindness from the #HealthySmartKidWithAHeart campaign, which featured stories of kindness to inspire parents to teach their children about compassion.

Reading stories to Filipino children has opened the eyes of Rey to many realities. Just as he read them stories, he likewise learned meaningful life lessons from the stories of people he encountered in his journey. To him and his wife Grace Bufi, these children are characters in their own stories. “The tales they tell make a huge impact on their overall development. It helps them communicate and make sense of the world they are in and what is happening inside themselves,” said Rey. Grace, on the other hand, said that storytelling does not only develop listening skills. “It also teaches kids the values of empathy and patience as they sit for longer periods of time. It helps kids string new words together and ignite a passion for discovering new things.”

To both Rey and Grace, their key role in establishing The Storytelling Project is to mold children to have a kind and altruistic foundation. Aside from helping them perform better academically, driving kids to uphold their values and espouse the goodness in their hearts remain their goal as parents, guardians, and caregivers.

Rey and Grace Bufi are parents to two wonderful children. When asked how they apply their learnings as storytellers and volunteers in their home, the Bufis said that, “Our work as volunteers is to let our children experience our adventures when we are close to normalcy. When we’re in the field, you get the privilege of being a part of somebody’s slice of life. And this allows you to interact in a more compassionate and caring manner even if you only spent a little time with them.”

To Rey, raising healthy and smart kids with a good heart starts with equipping them with the proper nutrition, and then harnessing it with experiences that will remind them to do good. “Doing good should come from the heart, because only then will the people around you feel it and inspire them to do good as well,” Rey said.