STORYTELLING AND TEACHING VALUES
Here I am in the one hundredth year, and this is March. Already the calendar is showing the day is the tenth! The first book that I wrote was for the purpose of imparting to many people the way of acquiring the skills of the storyteller. It was published in 1998. The title of the book is, Storytelling in a Nutshell, with the subtitle, “Storytelling in Christian Education.” The book was requested by LifeWay Christian Resources, and was published by their press. It remained in the catalog through four printings, and finally went out of print, with all rights reverting to the author, therefore, when I finished the book, Eternity in an Hour, I began working on the revision and that has occupied my time for over a year. During this past year, (the 98th which is actually the 99th year reached January 23, 2018) I have had two serious set-backs with the heart. I was hospitalized in Richmond, VA for nearly three weeks, and had months of recovery time, and just about the time I was on the verge of getting my weight back up to the normal—bang! The pacemaker was no longer working in the two lower chambers of the heart! This began in September, and became acute in October, and from then until after Christmas I was ill, because the medicine was a very strong medicine that brought about side effects that were awful! Now the heart is behaving and I am still working on the revision. I will not go into all of these problems with you, but suffice it to say—I take Luther’s hymn very much to heart, and say, “If the right man were not on our side…”That is the crux of the matter. He “lifts me up and helps me stand, by faith on Heaven’s table land!” This is how I have survived the attacks on my body and on my mind! Thank God for all the dear family and friends who keep me in their prayers and this is the reason I can now write these words that the Lord has again given me for the purpose of perpetuating the art of storytelling for the Christian. That is, one who wants to please the Lord and in obedience, go and tell!
Now I will go into the subject that He has given me to share today, and I might say that this is one that is of primary importance–.that is—teaching the values that we hold dear.
Moral training begins in infancy. Notice the nursery rhymes that have lessons in them, and emphasize them. An example would be, Little Boy Blue come blow your horn. Here we see the indolence of the one who is supposed to be watching the sheep and the cows! His immaturity is mentioned—“Will you go wake him? NO! not I! For if I do he’s sure to cry!”
You will find lessons in many of the little nursery rhymes! Think about it. Bedtime is at 8 o’clock. Tardiness is shown in A dillar, a dollar. How about the slow worker? He shall get but a penny a day because he can’t work any faster. On and on. Of course, we cannot forget
the knave who stole the tarts and got beaten for it, or Tom, Tom, the Piper’s son, stole a pig and away he run– the pig was eaten and Tom was beaten. Well, that is enough nursery rhymes. You think of some!
While still in the nursery we have the story of The Little Red Hen. This story teaches industry. Any of the familiar fables have good lessons such as Aesop’s Dog in the Manger, Sour Grapes, etc. The story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf is particularly good. Letting children act these stories out is helpful in impressing the meaning on them.
At school age the children can learn from Hawthorne’s version of Tbe Golden Touch. (King
Midas) and there is nothing better for the older child than the Bible stories such as the Prodigal and many others, as you study and think of ways to tell these great stories so that children love them and want t hear them again and again! I always find that prayer to the Lord as you prepare, will always yield great ideas for telling stories that illustrate the truth of His stories, and you will be given a way of expressing the Bible story that will appeal to the heart of a child! REMEMBER THIS—IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD AND WORD WAS WITH GOD AND THE WORD WAS GOD! He gave His word to human beings who listened with their special ears and wrote it all down for us! He knows the heart of every child who will be listening and He will bring to your mind the right words that will delight the heart of the child! Childhood stories of famous men and women and then of who they grew up to become. You can find these stories in your church, school or public library. The children’s librarian is a friend indeed!
NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT TEACHING HISTORY!
Storytelling can make history alive and vital because it causes the child to be able to visualize
the events. Through the power of the story we can make the child see what was done by others in the past. We can show how people lived and how they worked sand acted.
The biographical story is a boon to every teacher of history. The teacher who looks at history as a fascinating story replete with all the characters of flesh and blood—not fiction, can make history so interesting that the child forms a life-long love of it. Such was
the case of one that I knew who gave me this story: He brought home a failing grade in history and his father began every night tutoring him in history. He told all sorts of tales out of history and my storyteller said that he sat there bug-eyed. He began to delve into the history book for more and then he searched for more. He asked for biographies for good books. This was a lifetime love that never stopped! When he was in the 90th year, he had cataract surgery that also included 16 laser treatments to restore his sight for reading, so with the help of a magnifier, he had finished reading six volumes of the series History of Civilization by one of his favorite authors. He continued reading his Bible through, every year, and kept abreast of current trends in literature by subscribing to Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.
Every great historian is more than a recorder of events. Most historians are also great
narrators, so the teacher can find no end of wonderful material to enhance the teaching of the subject. Again, stories suitable for telling to elementary grades are to be found in books that you will find in the library with the help of the librarian. Make a friend of that one, and let them know exactly what you are looking for, and they will help you find it! Then when high school age is attained, the public library and the good school library will be able to supply fantastic supplementary stories for the subject of history. I had
a yearly invitation to the classes of 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade English classes of the counties surrounding City of Richmond, VA. I can promise you that you will find that they love the stories that you will bring! A list of call numbers is a welcome gift, so they can go searching for they always come after class to ask, “Where do I find such stories?”
When I finally get the book, STORYTELLING IN A NUTSHELL, reprinted and out, you will have a comprehensive resource for becoming a skillful storyteller. I will conclude with this precious story. Our great storyteller, Robert Louis Stevenson, spent his last years in the islands of the South Pacific, and became the friend of the natives. They had a favorite name for him which was, (here I am not sure of the spelling, but will still tell the story for you) their word, being translated to English was the word for “Storyteller” and they called him by that name—Toosatella—The story goes that one of the natives became ill and had to be taken to a clinic. There he was questioned, “What is your name?” The only way he could answer was, “I belong to Toosatella.” Now that was not a statement that meant he was a slave of Stevenson, but that he was “ a kin” of Stevenson’s—He felt that he belonged to him! That was the only way he knew how to answer, that was how he identified himself! “I belong to the storyteller!” That is the way I want to be known. I belong to the greatest storyteller
of all the Ages—the Master Storyteller. In the book I share many things that He has taught me, with the readers! I will notify you when it is ready to be distributed.