Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Katie. Katie Wonders, “Why do people tell stories about the past?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Katie!

Do you have a favorite bedtime story? Many kids enjoy reading with a family member before falling asleep. Some love to hear fairy tales. Others might prefer hero legends or ghost stories. Maybe you’re even a storyteller yourself!

People have told bedtime stories—and other types of tales—for thousands of years. Ancient humans told stories orally from memory. They used hand gestures and facial expressions to make the stories more interesting.

Eventually, humans began writing or drawing their stories. Some of these have been found in caves. In fact, archaeologists in Indonesia recently found 44,000-year-old pictures that tell a story on a cave wall. What was this story about? Hunting wild animals! Experts say this may be the oldest recorded story. 

The Aboriginal people of Australia also painted symbols on cave walls to tell stories. They told their tales using a combination of speaking, music, rock art, and dance. Other items such as sand, leaves, and tree carvings also helped them record the stories in pictures or writing. They still tell many of these ancient tales today!

Throughout history, many stories have had common themes. No matter where the stories come from, many include lessons or morals. In this way, stories can help influence the people and cultures who tell them.

One example is the popular children’s story “The Three Little Pigs.” You may have heard this tale once or twice at bedtime! Two lazy pigs build houses of straw and twigs. They rush through the work. The third pig works hard building a strong brick house. When the Big Bad Wolf comes, he blows down the lazy pigs’ straw and twig houses. The brick house still stands.

What’s the moral of this story? Many would say it’s that good things happen if you work hard in life. Can you think of lessons you have learned from other bedtime stories?

Today, some stories are still passed down orally. But we also have many modern mediums for storytelling. These include television, movies, plays, the Internet, and our favorite—books!

Do you enjoy books, too? If so, we know the holiday for you. It’s been around since 1994, and it happens each year on November 1. What are we talking about? National Family Literacy Day! This is a day when people around the U.S. celebrate the wonders of literacy. They plan activities and events that showcase the importance of families learning together. Some communities hold events all month long.

How do people celebrate National Family Literacy Day? They hold read-a-thons, book drives, and more. And anyone can take part! Schools, libraries, and literacy organizations often host the events. Teachers, parents, kids, and anyone else can come to celebrate.

Family literacy programs bring parents and children together. They help families further their education and learn new life skills. And we think that is wonderful! How will your family celebrate National Family Literacy Day? Will you read a bedtime story together? Maybe you’ll make up one of your own. However you celebrate, we hope you enjoy learning together with those you love.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3

Wonder What's Next?

Join us tomorrow for a Wonder of the Day that will have you jumping out of planes and putting out fires!