This is from an article was compiled and edited by my friend and fellow storyteller Dan Keding published in Sing Out! Magazine. At the time I was teaching full time storytelling classes at a high school in California. I now teach Applied Storytelling at Ohio Dominican University.
As we consider youth involvement in stories and storytelling I think what it says applies even more today than yesterday. For this reason I have posted it on my blog.
From: Sing Out! | Date: 9/22/2004 | Author: Keding, Dan
This issue I have asked three of the best known advocates of youth storytelling to talk
about some of the issues and ideas that arise when dealing with storytelling with kids.
Flora Joy is currently the Storytelling Professor Emeritus at East Tennessee State
University. In 2000, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Storytelling from
the National Storytelling Network. Kevin Cordi teaches storytelling at the high school
level and created the award winning student storytelling troupe, Voices of Illusion. He is
the 2004 recipient of the National Service Award from the NSN. Judy Sima has trained
hundreds of young storytellers at the middle school where she is the librarian in Warren,
Michigan. She started the Chatterton Talespinners, a student troupe and The Parent
Tellers, an award winning adult volunteer storytelling group. She is the coauthor with
Kevin of the new book Raising Voices: Creating Youth Storytelling Groups and Troupes.
What is the best way to attract students to be active storytellers?
KC: In order to encourage students to be storytellers they must first be aware of the value
of stories and storytelling. We need to have a national and international mentoring
program where older or seasoned storytellers can work with younger tellers. This
apprenticeship program can work wonders.
JS: Expose them to good storytelling by professional storytellers as well as other youth
tellers. Then, invite them to join a group and bring their friends. Provide active and
engaging activities to teach storytelling skills and always have a performance goal in
FJ: Youngsters must feel the power of story before they are drawn to the telling process.
Sometimes this power occurs through the strength of peer approval (whether they’re
telling ”stories” in a private group or in a more formal audience), and sometimes the
power is emanated through the stories’ messages. Adult leaders can provide venues for
both of these situations.
In what way does storytelling fit into the curriculum?
KC: There is no subject material that cannot be taught using storytelling. In this state of
standards, oral and written language are highly valued. What better way to teach them
than through story? Storytelling is a natural method to learn any material.
FJ: All storytellers who are interested in connecting with schoolage listeners (and
potential tellers) should first check out . Massive listings of curriculum skills are given
(and they are even broken down by individual states). Practically every story that is fit a
teller’s repertoire call relate to one or more of the skills listed. ”Tellers wanting to
convince academic personnel of the value of their programs should in advance prepare a
written connection of their stories and these standards.
What is the value of storytelling in the classroom?
JS: Many state objectives now include oral communication. Storytelling helps not only in
communication skills but listening skills, as well as comprehension. By helping
strengthen imagination, storytelling helps with writing and comprehension and even
understanding of science concepts. Storytelling brings any subject to life? history,
Englisheven math. In regards to reading it helps with comprehension, story structure
and language development. Storytelling by students helps them develop self confidence,
poise and strengthens their ability to organize and express their thoughts. My students
also tell me it helps with their memory skills in all subjects.
KC: Since it has been observed that using narrativebased teaching or storytelling is the
most effective style of learning, storytelling has a natural place in teachers’ lesson plans.
It can be used to teach effective skills such as group cooperation to cognitive work such
as exploring the causes of The Civil War.
FJ: And the young learners themselves may become involved in the telling process. By so
doing, they are developing all of the oral language arts skillsa ”lifetime” communication
Do young storytellers actually stay with the art form?
KC: We have a ”Storyteller’s Hall of Fame” on my classroom walls. Everyone in my
storytelling group signs it at the end of the year. I see it everyday and just the other day I
looked at all the names and was surprised that 1 knew where most of the students were
over the years. Very few, but some, have become professional storytellers … but
countless others write or call me to share how they use stories as nurses, police officers,
as guards in the military, or even how they now tell stories to their own family.
JS: Many of my former Talespinners went into the theater program and forensics in high
school. They’ve told me that storytelling helped them in speech and writing classes. And
one wrote that she tells stories now to her own child.