Storytelling in Schools
Resources: Bibliography by Dr. Joseph Sobol
He toured the country from 1994 through 1999 with his award-winning musical theatre piece In the Deep Heart's Core based on the works of Irish poet W. B. Yeats. His book on the American storytelling revival, The Storytellers' Journey, was published in 1999 by the University of Illinois Press. In addition he has released a cassette and three CDs of music and stories, alone and with his group Kiltartan Road. His most recent recording, Citternalia: Celtic Music for Cittern was honored with a "Homegrown CD Award" by Acoustic Guitar Magazine, which called the album "a watershed project--dazzling speed and precision."
After eleven years in Chicago, Illinois, doing folklore residencies with high school ESL and multilingual programs and performing regularly with some of America's top Irish traditional musicians, he is proud to have been named Director of the Graduate Program in Storytelling at East Tennessee State University.
This bibliography is reprinted here with his kind permission.
Alna, O. (1999). The importance of oral storytelling in literacy development. Ohio Reading Teacher, 33(1), 15-18. Alna discusses the history and importance of storytelling and provides specific suggestions as to how caregivers, teachers, and parents can help children become lifelong learners and readers through the use of storytelling.
Blackburne, L. (1995, November 24). Look, listen and Learn…. Times Educational Supplement, 4143, S4(1). This article introduces an academic, Vivian Gussin, who has experienced the power of storytelling in her class and has shared her experience to academic circle.
Brennan, G. (1995, May 5). Telling stories in school. Times Educational Supplement, 4114, S5(1). Brennan shows that sharing stories can cross all sorts of barriers and storytelling enables people to interact one another. She also reports that some storytellers wants to see teachers employ storytelling for their teaching.
Champion, T. B., Katz, L., Muldrow, R., & Dail, R. (1999, May). Storytelling and storymaking in an urban preschool classroom: Building bridges from home to school culture. Topics in Language Disorders, 19(3), 52-67. This article looks at the differences of children’s verbal and written narrative styles based upon their home and school experiences with oral and written storytelling. Identifying variances in the narrations of three African-American preschool children in regards to the themes of identity, social relationships and entertainment in the form of content and event were analyzed. Individual and group differences arose through the analysis. Comparing this to the practices of white middle class children, the authors identify a gap between the teaching practices of most schools and the oral and written narrative styles of culturally diverse children. To close this gap, the authors suggest that school personnel communicate with home to identify children’s cultural and social practices and gain insight into the child’s “body of knowledge” so that literacy experiences can be meaningful and language learning can be successful for children of all backgrounds.
Collins, F. (1999). The use of traditional storytelling in education to the learning of literacy skills. Early Child Development and Care, 152, 77-108. Collins examines the contribution of storytelling to the education of young children, and reviews theoretical frameworks used to contextualize storytelling in formal education. Collins presents five major types of contributions of storytelling: to other language and expressive arts, to the inner world of affect, to autobiography, to narrative, and to certain aspects of culture.
Cooper, J. D. (1997). Literacy: Helping children construct meaning. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co. 315, 539-542. Cooper suggests that retelling stories is very useful to students who begin to use journals. Cooper also introduces guidelines for using retellings for assessment.
Cullinan, B. E., Greene, E., & Jaggar, A. M. (1990). Books, babies, and libraries: The librarian’s role in literacy development. Language Arts, 67, 750-755. This article discusses how New York librarians and early childhood educators work together to get preschool children off to the right start in language and literacy. It also describes how programs through libraries and involving parents, teachers and librarians can give children a better chance to grow up literate and love books.
Dombey, H. (1995). Interaction at storytime in the nursery classroom. Paper presented at ECE conference, Paris, France. Using the tools of systematic grammar, this case study examined 3- and 4-year-old children's experiences with storytelling and the potential effects of those experiences on the children's future success in learning to read. Subjects were students attending one of two nursery school classes held at a large primary school on the south coast of England. These children came from families experiencing financial, social, and physical problems. Results indicated that: (1) storytelling helped to gain the students' attention; (2) throughout the school year, the children began to move toward more explicit, individual self-expression and away from dependence on shared observations; (3) some children had substantial gains in learning language styles very different from those found in their prior conversational experience; (4) in October, only 21 percent of teacher-child dialogic interactions were initiated by students, but by May, this number had increased to 54 percent; and (5) children experienced many positive gains, in various areas, from learning how to actively construct narratives.
Ellis, B. F. (1997, January). Why Tell Stories?. Storytelling Magazine, 9(1), 21-23. Ellis argues that by telling stories, you are accomplishing many of the demands put upon modern educators by parents, principals, state and federal legislators.
Erickson, M. (1995, March). Why Stories?. School Arts, 94(7), 38-39. Erickson argues that students need to learn that art making can be purposeful behavior and understanding not only art making but also art history can challenge their imaginations.
Farrell, C. H. & Nessel, D. D. (1982). Effects of storytelling: An ancient art for modern classrooms (Report No. ISBN-0-936434-04-X). San Francisco, CA. Storytelling has long been a part of our culture, and teachers should recognize its value as a pedagogical tool. While many people believe that telling stories requires substantial efforts and skills, recent experience suggests that anyone interested can learn the art of telling a good tale. Teachers especially can become excellent storytellers and can enhance their instructional programs with folk tales, modern stories, and personal experiences told as stories. Before the Word Weaving Program, an experimental storytelling program, the teachers who participated in this study did not think of themselves as storytellers and were uncertain about their ability to learn the art. With the help of the workshops and with some practice, however, they soon became confident of their abilities and the enjoyment and benefits they could offer their students. Regular use of the Word Weaving techniques also improves children’s fluency and imagination when they create a story based on one they hear, and may help them remember and retell stories. Teachers also unanimously attested to storytelling’s benefits on children’s oral language development, comprehension, and fundamental understanding of the story.
Genisio, M. H. & Soundy, C. S. (1994). Tell me a story: Interweaving cultural and restorative strands into early storytelling experiences. Day Care and Early Education, 22(1), 24-31. This essay considers intellectual and affective reasons for telling tales with young children, placing special emphasis on cultural and restorative effects of storytelling. It offers suggestions for helping young children become reflective--capable of valuing their cultural heritage and coping with personal difficulties. It also includes guidelines for helping children select, narrate, and evaluate the events of their lives through joint storytelling sessions.
Groenou, M. V. (1995). “Tell Me a Story”: Using children’s oral culture in a preschool setting. Montessori Life, 7(3), 19-21. This essay examines the role of storytelling as a medium for promoting language development and cognitive growth in a preschool setting. It gives a rationale for including interactive storytelling in language curriculum and suggestions for its effective use. Also it underlines that story presentation helps children experience the world as a whole, makes lessons captivating and meaningful, stimulates imagination, and assists metaphoric fluency and articulation.
Hamilton, M. & Weiss, M. (1993, April). Children as storytellers: Teaching the basic tools. School Library Journal, 50(7), 30-33. In this article, Hamilton and Weiss describe why it is important to teach children to tell stories. The piece then goes on to outline effective strategies to use in teaching children to become more confident and successful storytellers. A list of stories that are well suited for young children to retell is also included.
Imdieke, S. J. (1991). Using traditional storyteller’s props. Reading teacher, 45(4), 329-330. This article offers two techniques, using nesting dolls and pictures as prompts, which not only aid in the telling of stories but also give the storyteller and the audience an understanding of the cultural traditions behind storytelling techniques.
Isbell, R. T. (2001). Telling and retelling stories: The literacy connection. Unpublished manuscript, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee. Isbell compares reading aloud and telling stories as ways to share literature with young children and support language and literacy learning. Isbell also describes how story telling can help children develop critical and active listening skills, and how retelling stories encourages children to create their own stories and later write and illustrate their stories.
Kim, S. (1999). The effects of storytelling and pretend play on cognitive processes, short-term and long-term narrative recall. Child Study Journal, 29(3), 175-191. In this article, Kim examined effects of storytelling and pretending play on short- and long-term narrative recall in preschoolers. It is found that: (1) storytelling and pretend play affected cognitive variables; (2) differences between storytelling and pretend play in facilitating narrative recall were significant; (3) encoding ability exceeded ability to make inferences; and (4) differences between short- and long-term conditions were insignificant.
Kuyvenhoven, J. C. (2005). In the presence of each other: A pedagogy of storytelling. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Based on the participation to a grade 4/5 classroom, Kuyvenhoven examines the role of storytelling in classroom learning life and points out that storytelling is a unified pedagogy, being developed by three participations: social awareness, mindful interaction, and deep imaginative engagement. In social awareness, the participants developed language abilities, social facility and knowledge as well as vocabularies for storytelling. In mindful interaction, participants used a story as a “thinking place.” storytelling is the means to illustrate information, explain abstract concepts and connect ideas to their applications. In the third, children took a part in deep imaginative engagement. Entering private imaginative space where the participants and the story life meet, children learn imaginative abilities, the particular knowledge gained through human experience, empathy for others and enriched their self-understanding.
Lenox, M. F. (2000). Storytelling for young children in a multicultural world. Early Childhood Education Journal, 28(2), 97-103. This article advocates storytelling as a powerful resource to promote an understanding of racial and ethnic diversity. It also addresses issues of selection criteria including elements of character development, prejudice reduction, authority and authorship, and language. It is included an annotated bibliography of stories for preschool and primary-age students and reference sources for educators.
Magee, M. A. & Sutton-Smith, B. (1983, May). The art of storytelling: How do children learn it?. Young Children, 38(4), 4-12. This article discusses stages very young children pass through as they learn to tell stories, including related activities such as picture telling and personal narrations. Also it suggests how adults can recognize children's stories, and the role adults can play in facilitating children's story telling. Educational implications are indicated.
Mallan, K. (1996, January). Storytelling and rural areas (SARA): Making links between home and school. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 21(1), 1-5. This article describes Storytelling and Rural Areas (SARA) program for children and families at Long-reach School of Distance Education (Central Queensland). SARA promotes children's oral language skills, self-confidence, and social construction. Mallan explores ways storytelling assists this development and notes how SARA provides links between home and school and encourages children, parents, and staff to share stories and spoken communication.
________ (1997). Storytelling in the school curriculum. Educational Practice and Theory, 19(1), 75-82. This article argues that story is a powerful tool for learning and for empowering students as social and cultural beings and advocates a shift of the role of story from the fringes to the center of the curriculum. It is advocated that teachers reexamine the kinds of stories and talk that occur in classrooms in the light of power relations and promotion of particular kinds of knowledge and understandings. It is also argued that storytelling has the potential for building a community of learners in an environment which openly encourages and respects a culturally diverse range of voices.
Malo, E., & Bullard, J. (2000). Storytelling and the emergent reader. Paper presented at the International Reading Association World Congress on Reading, Auckland, New Zealand. Numerous studies have linked reading aloud to preschoolers and these children's later success as readers. But some of the parents with whom teachers work, whether they work at Head Start, childcare centers, or primary grades, have limited reading skills. However, the Hispanic, Native American, African American, Irish American, and many other cultures in the United States have long histories of storytelling. Teachers can learn from these cultural traditions of storytelling, enhancing the literacy experiences in their classroom and providing an important home-school link. The child who is consistently exposed to an oral tradition of stories gains skills that prepare him/her for reading. Some of the most important skills children can gain are: (1) the concept of story; (2) the many strands of plot; (3) comprehension of vocabulary; (4) internalization of character; (5) visualization; (6) natural rhythms and patterns of the language; (7) figures of speech and metaphors; (8) prediction skills; (9) concepts about the world; (10) listening and attending skills; (11) internalizing their culture; and (12) healthy self concept. Since telling stories is a successful way to encourage literacy, it should be promoted in the classroom. Beginning storytellers can start by sharing their own personal stories, recounting daily events and elaborating on past experiences. A storytelling workshop with a master storyteller, where parents and teachers can learn the basics of storytelling together, can also be sponsored. Listening to storytelling tapes is another alternative.
Meyer, R. J. (1995, April). Stories to teach and teaching to story: The use of narrative in learning to teach. Language Arts, 72(4), 276-286. This article offers seven stories about one teacher's preschool and elementary school children to demonstrate that it is from their students that teachers learn to be better teachers.
Miller, P. J. & Sperry, L. L. (1988). Early talk about the past: the origins of conversational stories of personal experience. Journal of Child Language, 15, 293-315. This article analyzes data regarding children's early talk about past experiences, resulting from longitudinal home observations of five working-class mothers and their two-year-olds. Results indicate that children talked primarily of negative past events, especially those involving physical harm, and that during this period temporally-ordered sequences increased dramatically.
Miller, P. J. & Moore, B. B. (1989). Narrative conjunctions of caregiver and child: A comparative perspective on socialization through stories. Ethos, 17, 428-449. The article addresses the role that stories play for both caregiver and child and draws on insights from developmental psychology. Illustrative material is provided from an ethnographic study of language socialization in the urban, working-class community of South Baltimore. The questions are addressed of how children are included in storytelling events and how the genre to which they are exposed is culturally defined and practiced. Parameters of cross-cultural variation are identified. The issues of what children take from the narrative environment and how they master personal storytelling are discussed as well as the benefits of the comparative perspective in storytelling.
Morrow, L. M. (1985). Retelling stories: A strategy for improving young children's comprehension, concept of story structure, and oral language complexity. The Elementary School Journal, 85(5), 647–661. Studies indicated that a single experience of retelling a story after listening produced a small improvement in kindergarten children's comprehension and that this effect could be increased by frequent practice and guidance in retelling. Appended are a story reading and retelling guide sheet for students and directions for guiding retellings for teachers.
Morrow, L. M. (1996). Lively Discussions: Fostering Engaged Reading. In L. B. Gambrell & J. F. Almasi (Ed.), Story Retelling: A Discussion Strategy to Develop and Assess Comprehension (pp. 265-283). Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association. Morrow argues that retelling helps us understand comprehension processes used by a reader or listener and retelling allows a reader or listener to structure responses according to personal and individual interpretations of texts. Morrow also suggests that retelling is useful to assess a child’s sense of story structure, comprehension, oral language complexity, reproduction and production of stories and text.
Munsch, R., Carter, M., Dolci, M., & MacDonald, M. R. (1994, July-August). Beginnings Workshop: Storytelling. Child Care Information Exchange, 98, 31-50. Four workshop articles discuss storytelling techniques and sources: (1) "Beginning with Peekaboo: Storytelling as Interaction" (Robert Munsch); (2) "You, Yes, You: Storytelling from Many Cultures" (Margaret Read MacDonald); (3) "When the Wolf Both Is and Is Not a Wolf: The Language of Puppets" (Mariano Dolci); and (4) "Finding Our Voices: The Power of Telling Stories" (Margie Carter).
Palmer, B. C., Harshbarger, S. J., & Koch, C. A. (2001). Storytelling as a constructivist model for developing language and literacy. Journal of Poetry Therapy, 14(4), 199–212. This article presents observations of two community-sponsored summer programs in which storytelling was used as a vehicle for expanding children's existing oral language and developing their literacy abilities. It also describes how children first participated as attentive listeners to the professional storyteller, then became creative retellers, then used story mapping. It notes the children quickly adapted to stories as a vehicle for active learning.
Peck, J. (1989). Using storytelling to promote language and literacy development. The Reading Teacher, 43(2), 138–141. In this article Peck describes the benefits that storytelling can have on the development of listening and reading comprehension and the enhancement of oral and written expression. Peck also presents an example of how storytelling was used to realize these benefits in a third-grade classroom.
Phillips, E. H. (1995, Winter). Telling the tale: A classroom approach to creating an oral family history. Teaching Theatre, 6(2), 8-10. This article compares the ancient oral tradition of storytelling with modern interpretations where storytelling is blended with acting. Phillips provides guidelines for an exercise in which the students interview members of their family and bring the results to life on stage.
Pierce, J., Terry, K., & Ferguson J. (1997, Summer). Promoting literacy and language development through storytelling. The Indian Reading Journal, 29(3), 59-61. In this article Pierce focuses on the benefits storytelling can have on the development of language and literacy in children. Pierce also highlights the positive rewards for children and describes an example of how children wrote and told their own stories in a particular third-grade class.
Rockman, C. (2001, August). Tell me a story: Using stories to teach children. School Library Journal, 47(8), 46-49. This article discusses the benefits of storytelling by teachers or librarians to elementary and middle school students. Topics include listening; sharing versus performing; finding stories, other than folk tales; guidelines for telling stories; and resources, including print sources and Web sites.
Roney, C. (1996, Winter/Spring). Storytelling in the classroom: Some theoretical thoughts. Storytelling World, 9, 7–9. In its most basic form, storytelling is a process where a person (the teller), using vocalization, narrative structure, and mental imagery, communicates with the audience who also use mental imagery and, in turn, communicate back to the teller primarily through body language and facial expression in an ongoing communication cycle. Storytelling is co-creative and interactive. It is one of the most powerful forms of art/communication known to humans and this explains why it possesses such great potential as a teaching-learning tool. A fundamental curriculum goal is helping children grow into adults who participate actively and competently in the democratic process. For storytelling to be successful, teller and audience must collaborate to create the story, providing children with practice in several social skills, problem solving, exercise for the left and right brain hemispheres, and literacy development. Employing storytelling in the classroom on a regular basis is a sound teaching/learning strategy, because, as an art form and means of communication, it builds on children's preschool strengths and oral language expertise to help them successfully develop social, intellectual, and linguistic competencies.
Soundry, C. S. (1993, Spring). Let the story begin: Open the box and set out the props. Childhood Education, 69(3), 146-149. Current emphasis on the use of story props moves away from teacher–directed activities and towards student independent self-generated activities in cooperative settings. Models of appropriate practice that are beginning to emerge are diversified response activities including musical accompaniments, choral readings, creative dramatics, and story reenactments. These experiences call for natural child-like communication and provide a means for children to discuss the events in books. Recent research in emergent literacy had explored instructional strategies that encourage the reconstruction of meaning. Studies of retelling activities with kindergarten children report positive benefits. Some important guidelines when planning retelling activities include: small group settings, peer interaction, uncomplicated picture books, picture books with dialog, picture books with common objects, predictable books, and verbal involvement as well as hand and body involvement. Progress is measured by the increase in total number of words and t-units in the retellings.
Sterba, D. A. (1995, January). Multicultural activities across the curriculum. Storytelling Magazine, 7(1), 22-23. Sterba helps one deal with global awareness and multiculturalism through folktales and introduces the way to implement folktales in classrooms.
Strickland, D. S., & Morrow, L. M. (1989, December). Oral language development: Children as storytellers. Reading Teacher, 43(3), 260–261. In this article Strickland and Morrow argue that although storytelling is initially difficult for young children it is a very beneficial activity to their oral language development. Strickland and Morrow describe that through scaffolding and the careful structuring of storytelling activities, storytelling can be a very valuable and successful component of a language curriculum for young children.
Trousdale, A. M. (1990, February). Interactive storytelling: Scaffolding children’s early narratives, Language Arts, 67(2), 164-173. In this article, Trousdale shares the experiences of telling stories to three-year-old Tim, who began to take over parts of the stories to tell himself. Trousdale suggests that, by making storytelling an interactive event, adults can help children feel comfortable enough in storytelling to be confident of their own emergent narrative ability.
Walker, V. L. (2001). Traditional versus new media: Storytelling as pedagogy for African-American children (Doctoral dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin). Dissertation Abstracts International, 62, 820.
Zeece, P. D. (1997). Bringing books to life: Literature-based storytelling, Early Childhood Education Journal, 25(1), 39-43. This article examines the enrichment of sharing literature with young children through storytelling. Zeece presents guidelines for selecting stories for storytelling, including literary standards, characters, plot, setting, and themes. Zeece makes suggestions for effective storytelling and discusses the importance of understanding the variation in children's listening skills. Zeece also summarizes nine books that may be effectively used in storytelling.
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