Storytelling: A Personal Touch in a Digital World

Storytelling: A Personal Touch in a Digital World

In a time when the world has become most impersonal because everyone is connected, entertained, communicating through electronic devices, there is a need for the personal touch of storytelling. Today, we are going to look at storytelling…the who…the why …the what …the how
Who does storytelling?
A. Everyone, although many people deny it.
B. We do it all the time in our conversation — to teach — to entertain – to celebrate faith.
C. We do it in as a natural part of how we think and speak — But our natural, unrehearsed stories don’t feel official.
D. Writing has been around since about 3500 B.C. – Storytelling for thousands of years longer.
E. Do you tell stories…do you breathe air?

Why Storytelling? Storytelling vs. its cousin Story reading
A. We are hard wired to tell, listen, and remember in story format. It’s a multisensory experience. We bring ourselves into the story. We have passion; enthusiasm; indignation; humor; variations in our voices; gestures…. And we do it without thinking about it.

B. They did a study in Michigan with 4th graders — 4 classes got the same story…
One room – given a copy to read; One room – the story was read to them; One room — saw a video of the story; One room – the story was told to them.
A month later they interviewed students in each room.
Those who read it themselves and those who saw the video needed a great deal of prompting to remember at all (They were bystanders to the story.) The most vivid retelling detail and expansive images were recalled by those to whom the story was told. (They were brought in to the story by the teller.) Story reading recall was somewhere in the middle.

III. What is Storytelling?
A. Defined by National Storytelling Network
“The art of using language, vocalization, and/or physical movement and gesture to reveal the elements and images of a story to a specific, live audience…The teller’s role is to prepare and present the necessary language, vocalization, and physicality to effectively and efficiently communicate the images of a story. In addition, it is the duty of the teller to ensure that their stories, and the story characters, will be relevant for, accessible to, and appropriate for each specified audience, ad hat their material is in appropriate story form.”

B. Rules of Storytelling – no real rules. What works for one teller may not work for another.

C. Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end (Without these it is a rambling………..)
There is a problem with a struggle to solve it and a solution (good or bad)

IV. How to tell stories
A. Find a story that you like…that speaks to you!

B. Where to find stories
1. Picture books (literary stories) Many we know already because we have read them aloud multiple times. Be sure to give credit to the author when telling them.
2. Folktales, fairytales, tall tales — They have withstood the test of time. Tried and true stories. Please tell the stories from whence they came – Don’t make European stories into other cultures, as has been done on HBO and some publishers.
3. Stories you hear on cd’s
4. Songs (Tell the original story based on the song, “Old Lovers”
5. Stories with repetition work very well (“Old Woman and her Pig”)
6. Historical stories you have heard – It is important to do research to confirm accuracy.
7. Personal stories – You have lived them…you’re the expert. (“Going to China”)

C. Do not do the “M” word – memorization It is hard to do, and time consuming too. The audience does not care about the exact wording. It creates a lot of stress on you to learn it that way.

D. Visualize the story…the characters…the scenes…the action

V. Dressing up a story
A. Audience participation — Prepared – Have audience play a part (“Gunni Wolf”) or Natural – With repetition, audience naturally starts to join in; Choral stories both prepared and natural
B. Puppets – can introduce a story, tell it, or play a part in it (Warning – they can steal the show.)
C. Props — such as Musical instruments can be played for their music, or just to enhance a scene or a moment; String stories (“Yams”); Drawing or Cutting stories (“Gloria’s Christmas Angel”); Scarves, fans, other objects that can enhance the story

VI. BUT! I feel naked without the book.
So, tell a snippet of the story so that you only have to learn a part of it; or tell a snippet of information from you personally that will add richness and enhance the story.

These are notes for a presentation given at the Nebraska Library Association/Nebraska School Librarians Association joint annual conference in Lincoln, NE, October 16, 2015.

Harper, Wilhelmina. The Gunniwolf. New York: Dutton Juvenile, 1969.

Haven, Kendall. Super Simple Storytelling: A Can-Do Guide for Every Classroom, Every Day. Greenwood Village, CO: Teacher Ideas Press, 2000.

Kimmel, Eric. The Old Woman and her Pig. New York: Holiday House, 1996.

Pellowski, Anne. The story vine. New York: Aladdin Publishing, 2008.

Warren, Jean. Totline “Cut & Tell” Scissor Stories for Fall ~ Original Stories, Paper Plate Cut-Outs and Patterns. Charlotte, NC: Warren Publishing House, Inc. 1984.