Articles About Storytelling

Why Storytelling?

A List for Parents, Teachers, and Curricula-Makers

Teachers like to know "why" when it comes to introducing any new skill or curriculum component, and rightly so.

As a full-time teacher I was astounded when I incorporated storytelling into my curriculum. Working up tales and performing them took time, yes, but the benefits affected the reading, writing and understanding of my students in so many ways that I felt it was well worth the time.

Now as an artist-in-residence, even in a short visit, I can see students' increased confidence and facility with language because of storytelling.

Teachers and tellers once helped me compile a list of the positive effects of storytelling on children and their learning. If you want to be able to convey to others the value of storytelling in education, help yourself to this list of all the reasons for "Why storytelling?"

Storytelling gives students:

  1. a sense of history
  2. experiences of listening and turn-taking
  3. a sense of community
  4. the ability to imagine
  5. confidence
  6. respectful (responsive) listening
  7. a tool for changing social cliques and stereotypes
  8. expressive presentation skills:
    • eye contact,
    • voice volume and variety,
    • effective pauses,
    • and awareness of movement, gesture, and facial expression
  9. vocabulary development or the use (practice) of new or difficult words in context
  10. the sound and use of grammars and syntaxes other than their own
  11. an understanding of the purpose for punctuation - for pausing or setting off
  12. an understanding of characters and how to give them shape and shading
  13. a knowledge of sequencing and story structure
  14. a sense of writing techniques such as
    • a strong beginning and end,
    • the use of suspense,
    • the use of sensory detail and imagery
  15. an opportunity to make choices (story choices, editing choices, tone or style of presentation choices, etc.)
  16. a sensitivity to oral language and its importance to culture
  17. a connection between language and meaning
  18. an awareness of the language of movement and expression
  19. a sense of how stories have layers of meaning
  20. the experience of how through retelling we go deeper into a tale
  21. a realization of how stories change with different audiences knowledge of how the teller and audience co-compose the story
  22. the "fluidity" of the oral mode
  23. a chance to experience the shapes, vocabularies and styles of many genres of (oral) literature
  24. opportunities to overcome fears of performing and speaking out
  25. a sense of personal power and self-control
  26. an experience of their own natural creativity
  27. a sense of power when they crawl inside a story because the structure and world of the story provides a kind of shelter and makes telling a story feel safe
  28. a chance to "walk the tightrope of a tale" and succeed
  29. a feeling of "I did it!" (feeling of accomplishment)
  30. a chance to be heard chance to show others who they really are - often through the symbol or metaphor of the story
  31. a chance to succeed as they see others succeed
  32. a feeling that their own childhood loves are still valid (even though they are cool Old Kids now)
  33. an opportunity to learn to trust themselves and others (if handled well - if handled poorly kids can learn it is not safe to tell stories or to trust)
  34. a chance to command the attention of the group
  35. a chance to be validated, to matter, to be seen
  36. an opportunity to see how education is connected to life - especially when kids find themselves in stories or tell their personal experience stories
  37. a sense of how academic "work" can feel like play
  38. a sense of their bodies in space and how others use space, movement, voice and character
  39. a chance to shape their own learning - when they are allowed to choose their own story and keep track of what skills they are learning or what is difficult for them in the act of telling and then to seek the kind of help that fits
  40. an awareness of ancient cultures and how stories told orally were the first literature (besides cave paintings?)
  41. a sense of how ancient culture is connected to the present.