How to Tell Stories to Children ~ Free eBook

Sara Cone Bryant wrote children’s books in the 1900s, but among her best-known works are those that encourage storytelling. We covered her Stories to Tell to Children; this time we’ll look at How to Tell Stories to Children: And Some Stories to Tell.

Stories to Tell to Children includes 51 stories with “some suggestions for telling.” But where that title focuses on content, this book primarily deals with the ‘how.’

Generally, the art of storytelling has been rather lost. But this is where reading aloud and narrating can fill a gap.

The message of the story is the message of beauty, as effective as that message in marble or paint. Its part in the economy of life is to give joy. And the purpose and working of the joy is found in that quickening of the spirit which answers every perception of the truly beautiful in the arts of man. To give joy; in and through the joy to stir and feed the life of the spirit: is not this the legitimate function of the story in education?

We tend to learn many lessons from storytelling that we could never learn but by experience.

The author talks about the various types of stories to tell including:

  • The fairy tale.
  • The nonsense tale.
  • The nature story.
  • The historical story.

She also suggests learning to adapt stories for the listener:

cutting them down, and ridding them of vulgar or sophisticated detail.

And offers the following list as stories suitable for adaptation:

From the Brothers Grimm:

  • The Star Dollars
  • The Cat and the Mouse
  • The Nail
  • The Hare and the Hedgehog
  • Snow-White and Rose-Red
  • Mother Holle
  • Thumbling
  • Three Brothers
  • The Little Porridge Pot
  • Little Snow-White
  • The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids
  • The Sea Mouse

From Andersen:

  • Little Tiny
  • The Lark and the Daisy
  • The Ugly Duckling
  • The Seven Stories of the Snow Queen
  • The Flax
  • The Little Match Girl
  • The Fir-Tree
  • The Red Shoes
  • Olé Luköié
  • Monday
  • Saturday
  • Sunday
  • The Elf of the Rose
  • Five Peas in a Pod
  • The Portuguese Duck
  • The Little Mermaid (much shortened)
  • The Nightingale (shortened)
  • The Girl who trod on a Loaf
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes

And legends such as can be found in Guerber’s Myths of Greece and Rome (a book many homeschoolers will be familiar with):

  • Arachne
  • Pandora
  • Midas
  • Apollo and Daphne
  • Apollo and Hyacinthus
  • Narcissus
  • Latona and the Rustics
  • Proserpine

The biggest part of the book explains how to tell a story using various examples to illustrate the idea.

The stories are arranged by “class” for a start on age-appropriateness.

Finally, the book ends with an extensive resource list:

valuable sources for the story-teller, all yielding either good original material for adaptation, or stories which need only a slight alteration in the telling.

Not only do we want to be great storytellers, we want to raise them! This is a wonderful resource with which to begin. And free!

Free eBook

Additional Resources

The History of Story-telling: Studies in the Development of Narrative by Arthur Ransome
Many will recognize this well-known illustrator. This book is recommended in the text for those interested.

Activity: Storytelling

Activity: Storytelling
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.

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