The Oral Tradition of Storytelling

Kathy Staff Image

Storytelling, the oral tradition of sharing stories, has been a long tradition (since the late 1800s) at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.  It’s one of the reasons I love what I do at the library!

Anyone can be a storyteller, and besides, don’t we all have a story to tell?!?  The library has lots of sources to help you get started or even fine-tune this craft.

Here are some of my favorites.

The Storyteller’s Start-Up Book: Finding, Learning, Performing and Using Folktales by Margaret Read MacDonald

Book cover for The Storyteller's Start-Up Book by Margaret Read MacDonald

Margaret Read MacDonald is a noted storyteller, author, librarian and researcher.  She offers solid advice for the beginner storyteller whether you are a teacher, librarian, minister, or camp director.  Practical advice is paired with stories that she has used on audiences, plus her tips for telling.

The Story Vine: A Source Book of Unusual and Easy-to-Tell Stories from Around the World by Anne Pellowski

Book cover for The Story Vine by Anne Pellowski

If you’re looking for a different way to tell a story, this will do it!  Anne Pellowski gives detailed instructions for stories that involve drawing, string, sand, nesting dolls and more.  She has collected these stories from around the world and have found that audiences are interested and entertained by them.  I couldn’t agree more.

Folktales Aloud:  Practical Advice for Playful Storytelling  by Janice Del Negro

Book cover for Folktales Aloud by Janice M. Del Negro

Janice Del Negro says that she was terrified when she took her first storytelling class in graduate library school because she hated public speaking.  Fortunately, she made it through that class, and with the help of some colleagues in her first job, she became a favorite teller at preschool storytimes. She writes this book as though she is sitting next to you and talking to you — it’s very personable.  She groups the stories by age levels starting at 3 years and going to 14 years old.  Her tips are helpful throughout, plus she includes some great bibliographies.  She now teaches storytelling at the university level.

Tell Along Tales!  Playing with Participation Stories by Dianne de Las Casas

Book cover for Tell Along Tales! by Dianne De Las Casas

Storytelling can be more than listening and learning; it can also involve clapping, singing, chanting, rapping, giggling and more.  Dianne de Las Casas suggests many ways in which to accomplish just that.  She gives chapters on “Warm-Ups” and “Settle-Downs” and includes a multitude of ways to manage the audience with the participation.  Her personal notes are given in each of the stories presented in this book.  Her advice is simple and concise and perfect for anyone who wants to try this.

You can learn more about storytelling by attending The Art of Storytelling for Educators on Sunday, October 23, 2016 at 3:30pm in the Children’s Department, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Oakland.

Kathy is a Senior Librarian in the Children’s Department at Main.  While she’s originally from Michigan, she loves Pittsburgh where she enjoys doing Bulgarian folk dancing and sharing the oral tradition of storytelling.

Exterior front entrance at CLP-Main in Oakland

The Art of Storytelling for Educators

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