Favorite Resources for Storytelling

Professional Books:

Fujita, Hiroko. Stories to Play With : Kids’ Tales Told with Puppets, Paper, Toys, and Imagination. Little Rock, Arkansas : August House, 1999.
Holt, David and Bill Mooney. More Ready-To-Tell tales from Around the World. Little Rock, Arkansas : August House, 2000.
Holt, David and Bill Mooney. Ready-to-Tell Tales. Little Rock, Arkansas: August House, 1994.
MacDonald, Margaret Read. Shake-It-Up Tales! Stories to sing, dance, drum, and act out. Little Rock, Arkansas : August House, 2000.
McClure, Amy A. Books that Invite Talk, Wonder, and Play.Urbana, Il: National Council of Teachers of English, 1996.

Story Books (sources of easy to learn stories that "tell well"):

The Three Little Pigs (any version)
Jack and the Beanstalk (any version)
The Little Red Hen (any version)
Wat’s In Fox’s sack?
Amazing Pig.
Gingerbread Boy
Always Room For One More
The Great Big Enormous Turnip
The Lady With the Alligator Purse
Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett


Read it until you know it
Don’t memorize the text – learn the story, it’s characters, its action sequences, and its “mood”.
Step into the book until you feel it
Surround yourself with the story, “visualize” yourself in the tale. Play with it, change it, make it personal.
Tell the story like you were there
It is now your story. What is it like: what do you see, feel, smell, hear? Are you going to just stand there? Will you run from encounters, react to situations, recite advice or formulas, review options/directions, recognize similarities?

From: Off the Page! by M.A. Hudson (used by permission)


Storied Career


Pew Study Indicates Personal Storytelling is behind Blogs

Beth’s Blog

Internet Time

Chief Storytelling Blog

NSN Storytellers Blogs


1. Know why it is that you want to expose your students to the art of storytelling. As you clearly define what role you hope oral tradition will play in your class or school life you will also be helping the performer to know how to craft the visit for mutual satisfaction. “We thought a storyteller would be fun!” is a good reason but far better are: “ We were studying various art forms and wanted the oral arts represented” , “We’ve been studying folklore and myth and thought the students hearing stories communicated in a traditional and ancient manner would add to the lessons,” or “ We thought that since children learn in so many diverse ways that a storyteller –bringing an auditory component – would bring an excellent dimension to the event.”
2. Clear with your building administrator to make sure that there are no problems with your plans and you have their support for bringing an enriching program to your class/library/school.
3. Place on school calendar. Get the information out early enough so that everyone gets to learn of the event, that information goes out on any mailings, or send-home packets.
4. Know how much you can spend to bring a professional teller into your setting. Some storytellers have firm price packages. Others may be more flexible, especially if they are not full time tellers. What might you use to barter a price with a storyteller? Can you guarantee a spot on the local cable TV show, a big write-up in the newspaper, or a secondary storytelling job in the same area?
5. Make sure that everything is placed in writing using a standard contract format that defines who, what, when, where, and how much. Any special additions/restrictions/etc. will need to be added to this and both parties sign and receive copies of the signed contract.
6. Plan for problems. Illnesses, missed flights, sudden death or loss of funding can all happen without warning. Remain flexible and even the worst case scenario will be much easier to handle.
7. Check with the administration about any special forms/clearances required by your system or administrative offices before a performer can a) visit your school and b) receive their check. Make sure your performer gets a copy of this in a timely manner so that payment is not unnecessarily delayed.
8. Advertise the visit among students, teachers, staff, and parents.
9. Prepare the groundwork for a wonderful experience by a) explaining your goal for the event, b) explaining storytelling, c) sharing audience etiquette with students and other staff.
10. Call or write close to the date to confirm all arrangements.
11. Provide clear directions to location.
12. Have someone on hand to a) greet (“Yes, you have the right place” b) direct (“The library is here, the restrooms here, etc.) and c) assist your guest storyteller (“would you like some water, a chair?”).
13. Make any necessary announcements prior to introduction. These may include last minute notices to staff and teachers, requests that pagers be turned off, and reminders about proper behavior.
14. Introduce your guest to the audience. If you are uncomfortable with introductions, ask the artist ahead of time to provide you with a script to use as you introduce them.
15. Thank your guest performer at the conclusion of the event. Even if the event was not all you hoped for it is a good role model for students and staff.
16. Follow up with a written thank you to the guest artist. Include copies of any PR material that may have appeared in newsletters, local papers, etc.

Just as the visiting artist should be expected to impress you with his or her level of professionalism….the teacher, administrator, librarian, or school district should also set out to impress the visiting artist that they are a place worth the artist’s time and effort.



Barrett, Ethel. Storytelling, It’s Easy. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1960.

Bauer, Carolyn Feller. New Handbook for Storytellers, with stories, poems, magic and more. Chicago: American Library Association, 1993.

Bruchac, Joseph. Tell Me A Tale: A Book About Storytelling. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1997.
Colwell, Eileen. Storytelling. London: Bodley Head, 1980.

Geisler, Harlynne. Storytelling Professionally: The Nuts and Bolts of a Working Performer. Englewood, CO.: Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 1997.

Griffin, Barbara Budge. Storyteller’s Journal: A Guidebook for Story Research and Learning. Medford, OR: Storyteller Guidebook Series, 1990.

Hutchinson, Duane. Storytelling Tips: How to Love, Learn, and Relate a Story. Lincoln, NE: Foundation Books, 1985.

Litherland, Janet. Storytelling from the Bible: Make scripture live for all ages through the art of storytelling. Colorado Springs, CO: Meriweather Publishing, 1991.

Livo, Norma J. Storytelling: Process and Practice. Littleton, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 1986.

Maguire, Jack. Creative Storytelling: Choosing, Inventing, and Sharing Tales for Children. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1985.

Moore, Robin. Awakening the Hidden Storyteller: How to Build a Storytelling Tradition in Your Family. Boston: Shambhala, 1991.

Pellowski, Anne. The Storytelling Handbook: A Young People’s Collection of Unusual Tales and Helpful Hints on How to Tell Them. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Pellowski, Anne. The World of Storytelling. Expanded & Rev. ed. Bronx, NY: H.W. Wilson, 1990.

Storytelling: Learning and Sharing. [video recording] Coyote Creek Productions. 1995.

Zipes, Jack. Creative Storytelling: Building Community, Changing Lives. New York: Routledge, 1995.


Bierlein, J.F. Parallel Myths. New York: Ballantine Books, 1994.
Bullfinch’s Mythology. New York: Gramercy Books, 1979.
Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1993.
Philip, Neil. The Illustrated Book of Myths: Tales and Legends of the World. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1995.

Marilyn A. Hudson/Storytelling 101/30 September 1999


The Audience
In order to tell stories to children several factors should be in place.
· Know children: how they develop, how they change, what they are learning in school and what interests them.
· Revisit your childhood. Go back in memory and walk into your room, taste your favorite things, run down the street as you hurried to a friend’s house…some things never change. As you discover those “universal” elements you will be well on your way to being able to recognize timeless elements for use in your stories.

The Story
In order to be a storyteller you must have a story. The story you tell can be a family story, a familiar folktale, a classic myth, or a page out of history. Regardless of the type of story chosen for telling the key is to remember two important facts.
The story must be appropriate to the age and develop of the children in the audience. It must also be a story you can really enjoy telling because children can see through half-hearted interest and lazy telling.
What kind of stories can be told to children?
· Myths
· Fables
· Folklore
· Tall tales
· Family Stories
· Historical tales
· Nursery rhymes
· Religious tales
Where can a storyteller find an audience?
· Schools
· Churches
· Camps
· Festivals
· Hospitals
· Nursing Homes
· Local clubs
· Hotels
· Luncheons
· Historical associations
· Park programs
· Conventions
· Senior citizens centers
· Fundraisers
· Local special events

As you begin the process of learning and practicing the story it is important to keep in mind the role that such things as vocabulary, diction, and timing play in telling a story.

Vocabulary: How easy to understand are the words? If unique terms are used are they adequately explained?

Diction: How clearly are you speaking? Are you understood as you tell by people listening at the back of the room?

Timing: Do you tend to gallop through what you say in a breathless fashion because of nervousness or fright? Are you telling stories like they were “fast food” when what you really need is a sit down meal with pauses between the courses?

All of these can be dealt with by taping yourself, judging listener response, and taking a deep breath to steady yourself as you perform.

The Event
Children can be noisy, have a short attention span, and be easily distracted combining to cause a storyteller to swear never to tell to anyone under 20 ever again! On top of those normal childhood conditions there is the culture which has trained us to 60-second commercials, big productions, and dizzying special effects.
The storyteller can feel they are too simple to really appeal to children, however, these elements can be turned to the teller’s advantage. Some stories are very short and as you may have read a collection you discarded one or two because they were too short for telling to an adult audience. Look at these again to see if they can be adapted to the shorter story times required for younger children.
Some ways to get and keep attention (try some on for size):
· Costume
· Storytelling clothing (hat, vest, cane, glasses, etc.)
· Listener contract (spell out expectations on attention, noise, etc. up front)
· Opening ritual (candle, gather in story place, song, spiral dance, poem, fingerplays, etc.)
· Lively presentation with varied speech levels.
· Audience participation

The Recovery

You successfully made your appearance telling stories to your audience. You may have been embarrassed, you may have been elated, and you may have been sure you could never do that again in a million years. If you are a storyteller you will be telling again and as soon as you can. The post-event period is very important to improving your presentation. It requires assessing what worked, what was awkward, and what seemed to really make the time fly while you had real fun telling your story or stories.


Oklahoma Storytellers - Part of Red Dirt Book Festival 2005

There are pictures of Kathryn Thurman, President Bonnie, Rosemary Czarski, and Marilyn Hudson on this flicker page created by the Pioneer Library System (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jsyk/481798040/in/set-72157600087279200/ ).
The next one of these festivals will be the first Friday and Saturday of November 2007 in Shawnee, Oklahoma. See you there!