The earliest forms of storytelling were spoken. Storytellers recited stories from memory. They may also have used hand gestures and facial expressions.

Some of the oldest recorded stories were found by French children in the Pyrenees Mountains when they discovered drawings of extinct animals on the walls of a cave. These drawings, estimated to be 35,000 years old, are the oldest written stories. They are also the first known visual art.

In Australia, the native Aboriginal people painted symbols on cave walls to help storytellers remember their stories. They recited the stories 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.

Throughout history, all the way back to the earliest tales, common themes have emerged. No matter where the stories originated, many (if not most) are didactic stories, which means they include teachings or morals.

Didactic stories also help control, influence and inspire the people and cultures of developing societies. These moral stories teach that there are rewards in life for doing good things and punishments for doing bad things.

For example, in the popular children's story “The Three Little Pigs," two lazy pigs build houses of straw and twigs. They rush through the construction of their homes so they can do something fun with their time instead of working.

The third pig works hard building a sturdy brick house. When the Big Bad Wolf arrives, he blows down the lazy pigs' straw and twig houses, but the brick house remains standing.

The moral of this story is that good things happen if you work hard in life. Can you think of morals you have learned from other popular stories?

Traditionally, stories have been memorized and passed from person to person through oral narratives. In modern-day cultures, however, our cultures have developed many other ways to share and learn about local, family and cultural histories.

Some of the modern mediums we use for storytelling today include television, movies, plays, the Internet — and our favorite — books!


Wonderopolis would like to wish you and your family a happy National Family Literacy Day!

November 1 is National Family Literacy Day. Around the country, communities are celebrating the wonders of literacy by planning special activities and events that showcase the importance of families learning together.

First held in 1994, this annual event is officially celebrated on November 1, but many communities host events throughout the entire month. Schools, libraries, literacy organizations, teachers, parents and kids participate in read-a-thons, book drives and more to celebrate the wonders of literacy.

Family literacy programs bring parents and children together to further their education and improve life skills. And we think that is wonderful!

How will your family celebrate National Family Literacy Day?

Wonder What's Next?

Enjoy celebrating National Family Literacy Day and then come back tomorrow for a wonder that's sure to win your vote!