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Jackie Baldwin jackie@story-lovers.com
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What Works: Research About Teaching and Learning: Storytelling

Originally published in 1987 by the US Department of Education

Keywords: pre-school, elementary school, literature, character development

ABSTRACT

From page 23:

"Research Finding:

Telling young children stories can motivate them to read. Storytelling also introduces them to cultural values and literary tradition before they can read, write, and talk about stories by themselves.

Comment:

Elementary school teachers can introduce young students to the study of literature by telling them fairy tales such as the Three Billy Goats Gruff or Beauty and the Beast and myths such as The Iliad. Even students with low motivation and weak academic skills are more likely to listen, read, write, and work hard in the context of storytelling.

Stories from the oral tradition celebrate heroes who struggle to overcome great obstacles that threaten to defeat them. Children are neither bored nor alienated by learning literature through storytelling: they enjoy, understand, and sympathize naturally with the goats on the bridge, Beauty in a lonely castle, and Hector and Achilles outside the walls of Troy. With the help of skillful questioning, they can also learn to reflect on the deeper meanings of these stories.

Children also benefit from reading stories aloud and from acting out dramatic narrations, whether at home or at school. Parents can begin reading to their children as infants and continue for years to come.

Storytelling can ignite the imaginations of children, giving them a taste of where books can take them. The excitement of storytelling can make reading and learning fun and can instill in children a sense of wonder about life and learning."

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