Sara Cone Bryant wrote children’s books in the 1900s, but among her best-known works are those that encourage storytelling. Stories to Tell to Children not only includes a list of stories to tell, but also covers the “how.”
Subtitled “Fifty-one stories with some suggestions for telling,” the author first provides the following tips:
- Take your story seriously. If it is good enough to tell, treat it with respect.
- Take your time. Don’t dawdle. Don’t hesitate. But never hurry.
- If you blunder, never admit it. Meaning, that detail you may not have gotten quite right can be corrected later. Just don’t interrupt the telling to fix it. With children it is “most unwise to break the spell.”
- When telling humorous stories, initiate the appreciation of the joke, subtly suggesting to hearers with facial expression and/or tone that soon it will be time to laugh.
- In addition, when telling humorous stories give your hearers enough time to fully appreciate the joke.
She goes on to provide another great piece of advice: children do not object to “moral stories” if they are good. And we might add, if they are good, we don’t need to add to them!
It is the type of story which specifically teaches a certain ethical or conduct lesson, in the form of a fable or an allegory,—it passes on to the child the conclusions as to conduct and character, to which the race has, in general, attained through centuries of experience and moralizing. The story becomes a part of the outfit of received ideas on manners and morals which is an inescapable and necessary possession of the heir of civilization.
Children do not object to these stories in the least, if the stories are good ones. They accept them with the relish which nature seems to maintain for all truly nourishing material. And the little tales are one of the media through which we elders may transmit some very slight share of the benefit received by us, in turn, from actual or transmitted experience.
Stories to Tell to Children also includes a list of stories to use for “reproduction” for each grade, first through fourth. We would refer to the process as narration.
One final note: Because of the time in which this book was written, you will likely find at least one story offensive. The way we dealt with these stories was to explain why the story is inappropriate or, in some cases, skip it altogether. As always, make the book fit your family rather than the other way around!
Storytelling is one of those “soft skills” our children will want to take with them into life. Here are 4 ways to develop the skill of storytelling.