Tips for Telling to Youngsters


by Victor Schill


  1. Select stories that would be familiar to youngsters e.g. folktales and fairy tales such as Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Little Pigs such stories are also familiar to you, the teller, and require a minimum of learning time, and can be recalled easily.
  2. Read folktales from other cultures. Some common themes are found in every folk tradition, and using different versions, can provide you with a fresh telling of a familiar theme that will also provide interesting points for discussion with young listeners in appropriate situations.
  3. Read a lot of the picture books which have been published as retellings of familiar tales and tales from around the world. I find that many of these retellings are easy to learn and that having illustrations accompanying the text helps me to learn the story and sort of see it unfolding in my mind’s eye as I learn and tell it e.g. I recommend the books by Gerald McDermott who does good retellings and fantastic illustrations. His retellings are easy to learn and are good talking points for showing youngsters how they can learn a story.
  4. When telling a story based on a picture book adaptation, try to take a copy of the book with you in order to share with your listeners after you have finished your telling I think this helps bring the story even more alive to kids who can see the illustrations and read the story as well.
  5. Use participation stories kids love to help you tell and act out a story, e.g. the turnip story where the farmer plants a turnip which grows so big that it takes several characters to finally pull the turnip out of the ground participating in the story is fun for young listeners and adds an extra level of involvement.
  6. Use props when appropriate e.g. Bark, George by Jules Feiffer can be enhanced by using puppets in telling the story–the story is short, easy to learn, and really comes alive when using puppets in the telling.

Recommended books for stories to tell:

  • “Zomo the Rabbit” by Gerald McDermott
  • “Native American Animal Tales” by Joseph Bruchac
  • “Bark, George” by Jules Feiffer