A Well-known Storyteller, Author and Inspirational Speaker

How To Get Started Learning A Few Good Stories

It is not hard to start telling stories! Simply learn a few good ones and tell them! Folk tales are very simple and easy, and also ones that come out of your own memory that you have made into story form.

  • Aesops fables are easy to learn. For example the story of the how the sun and the wind had an argument as to which was stronger. That is always good to tell.
  • The Man, the Boy and the Donkey is my favorite fable.
  • I also love the one about The Proud Frog
  • and everyone loves to tell about the Boy Who Cried Wolf.
  • The Bundle of Sticks is another favorite.
  • The Sun and the Wind
  • Just that many fables that you have down pat will serve you well at all times. I never mention the lesson, although the lesson is always prominent in fables, but I follow through on my rule to let the story do the telling.
    • Think about the ones you already know and can tell. For example, almost everyone knows
    • The Billy Goats Gruff,
    • The Three Little Pigs,
    • Goldilocks and the Three Bears,
    • and Little Red Riding Hood.
    • The Gingerbread Boy
    • The Traveling Fox
    • Lambikin

This is a good start and you can easily add a few to this list and get a repertoire going .

The Ugly Duckling when animated well and shortened, is really great for fours and fives. Reading it aloud from Andersen is too long, but telling it makes all the difference. Be sure to put words in the mouths and say them the way they should sound. EX: “Now listen to me! You are to stay close and follow me–Ready!1-2-3-GO!” And they all jumped in the pond and went swimming along behind their mother.

The Fox and the Little Red Hen is another easy one, and how they love to respond for the animals!   “Who will help me do thus and so?” “Not I!” said the cat, “Not I! said the rat, Not I! said the mouse, “Then I will” said the Little Red Hen and she did. Then, of course, after the little red hen does all the work and finally bakes the cake, they want to share in the cake, but, no! they are not to be allowed to do that! Well, it is a great story! and the children ask for it over and again, so that is the proof of the pudding. Imagine my surprise when I have had the big third graders call out that title when asked, “We have a few minutes, do you have a favorite you want me to tell?”

  • Such stories as The Little Engine that Could is easy to learn, with lots of repetition the children love, and is a good Christmas story. I like to tell that one just any time, however, and they always like it. One of my favorite Christmas stories is the one about the harper who went to play for the king–I always want to call it The Harper, but I think the title is actually The Promise by Maud Lindsay. Now you can ask the librarian where to find it. I only remember the story and author at this point, but that says it–I love to tell it.
  • Think of the Native American tales you know. Do you remember the one about Why the Bear Has a Stumpy Tail? Children love them. Get a book of them at the library, and learn two or three of the simple ones like that one. Fifth and Sixth graders love Scarface, and other big long stories. I love to tell these stories! Especially the ones about the Coyote. There are so many fabulous stories in that genre. I can tell you that I learned to love them when I was in the third grade myself, and there were two or three in my reading book, along with pictures that captured my imagination. I recall the canoe that was heading for the falls. Now either that picture was in the book or in the words, I do not recall which!
  • African tales. Black Americans have wonderful stories in their culture. Find books with stories from East Africa, and ask the librarian for help. Tell the person helping you that you are just getting started and what would be good? Lots of help will be yours! Virginia Hamilton’s book The People Could Fly has some really good ones in it. I tell about He Lion, Bruh Bear and Bruh Rabbit from that one, and for high school students I tell, The People Could Fly.
  • You don’t have to memorize the story! Remember that! Just learn the sequence of events and tell it in your own words. Be sure to practice it at home so you can make your voice do things to amuse and entertain. Just a few times like this and you’ll feel great about it!

This is the way to learn a story today and tell it tomorrow:

Pick a good, amusing folk tale that appeals to you. That’s important! You have to like the story! Read the story aloud three or four times. Time it .If it is too long, shorten it by cutting out all unnecessary phrases.

  • See if you can remember what happened first, then next, etc. to the end. Say it out loud.
  • Look back at the story and see if you! Left anything out. Repeat the sequence of events.
  • If you left anything out read the story aloud a couple more times. Now repeat the sequence of events
  • Now start telling the story the way you remember it . Be sure to put words in the mouths of the characters and mimic the way you think it should sound. EX. Try to make your voice croak like a frog, hiss like a snake, or make a quackish sound for a duck’s voice. etc.
  • Practice it until you have it sounding the way you want it to sound. Leave it alone at that point so that your zest for the story itself will return to you and you feel eager to tell it.
  • Now you are ready for the audience! The kids are gonna love you!   And you are going to LOVE being a storyteller!

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