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Now you have chosen the story to tell how will you prepare it for telling? Click here to move on.



Choosing a story to tell


Planning to tell a story.
Building a repertoire of stories to tell takes time and practice. However, it is not as difficult as it might seem.

Do you remember having stories told to you when you were a child or perhaps you have told stories to your own children? Once young children have heard and enjoyed a story they are with you all the way, repeating familiar phrases with you, joining in at every opportunity and even reminding you if you forget, or change a phrase. Telling a story is a shared experience where both teller, and listener are active partners.

It's not so different with adults. Just think about a social evening with friends. There is a shared pool of jokes and familiar stories that are there to be retold or referenced again and again. These familiar stories make the whole group feel connected and comfortable.

This is story telling and everybody has a story to tell.
Yet the whole idea of telling a story will often make people nervous because they feel that they have be seen to to perform. I remember a public speaking course that I ran once. One participant was really nervous about giving a three minute planned speech. She clutched at her notes, shuffled her feet and exhibited extremely anxious body language. To put her at her ease we asked her to tell us what she planned to talk about. She looked up. smiled, and chatted clearly and enthusiastically, for nearly five minutes, about her hobby, the subject of her planned speech. When she was finally asked to give the speech, her head went down, her voice shrunk to a whisper and she struggled stuttering through a dire three minutes.

Story telling is not public speaking, it is not acting. It is a sharing an experience with the audience.

Choosing a Story for young children
It may be easiest to choose a story from a written source, a book of folk tales or fairy tales for instance. There is a good reason why the old fairy tales remain popular and get retold in so many forms. They are stories that young children still enjoy. Young children identify with the hero who everyone thinks will fail; Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Dumling etc. Versions of these stories can be found in nearly every country of the world. They have universal application. They still inform most popular children's films and cartoons. The archetype of he trickster animal, the magical helper is still appealing. However, children now rarely hear those stories just "told". Telling them makes them immediate and allows children to identify with them as they choose.
There are plenty of versions of folk and fairy tales to get you started. Gradually you will begin to find other stories from children's literature that would be worth telling rather than reading.

Choosing a story to tell for older children
Older children really enjoy listening to stories but can shy away from the idea as they tend to think of it as " just for babies." I find that the best way to approach story telling for older children is to change the terms used. Talk about " creating a new pilot TV show, or an outline for a film screenplay or playstation game.
Another approach is to replace more conventional approaches to history, etc. with story telling. I still remember much complicated 18th and 19th social history because I had a teacher who was an excellent story teller. Because her stories made the characters so real, the facts and dates needed for exams just seemed to magnetically attract themselves to the characters in my mind.
A third approach is to use story telling as a taster for books you want children to read. This is a bit like creating a "teaser" on a TV show. Well, it works on TV.