Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Telling One Story Five Ways

Over the years I have learned different ways of presenting a story. In addition to flannel or magnet board stories, I do draw and tell stories and paper cutting stories and I use stick puppets and props to tell stories. I have also ventured into storytelling using paper folding and tangrams though I have found that I am not very good at using those formats.

Why do I use so many different storytelling formats? The main reason is to engage my audience. I primarily do a family storytime for all ages and it helps to keep their attention when they don't know what will be coming next. I also want the adults who attend a storytime to enjoy it as well, whether they are parents, caregivers or teachers, for they are the ones who bring the children to the library. Another reason is simply that I have fun doing these different types of stories.

Very seldom do I tell a story exactly as written. Often there are elements that I don't like, or the story is too long or not long enough. I will change the story to suit my style of storytelling. Sometimes this happens without my realizing it. I once had a library school student who had to do a preschool storytime which was observed by her professor. I gave her the material covering the theme I was using for that week and told her to choose how she wanted to present it. One thing she did was one of my favorite flannel board stories. I had given her a copy of the original story but when she told it, it was not at all like the story I told. After the program, I looked at the original copy and it was exactly what she had told. It turns out that I had changed the story as I told it over the years! (I liked my version better.)

There are times when it has been difficult to find exactly what I want for a storytime program. This has been particularly true for my family storytime so I ended up writing my own stories. I usually adapt folktales though I have also written stories around a familiar concept such as "be careful what you wish for." I wish I had started doing this earlier because I found out that I quite enjoy doing this and I have even branched out and written some draw and tell stories and paper cutting stories. Again this has helped me plan my family storytimes. I try to limit the number of board stories I use to two or three at the most in each program. I then use other formats for the rest of the program. I usually do not use more than two books so the other types of stories are important.

It is really not that difficult to create different formats. I have written about this before in my post "From Felt to Prop."  To illustrate how it can be done, I will take one story and present it five different ways - as a board story, using stick puppets, using props, as a draw and tell story and as a paper cutting story. The story I have chosen is the folktale, "The Fisherman and His Wife." Each format will be a separate post. Below is a photo of several versions of the story that I found at the library where I work. Most are quite different not only from each other but also from the original story. I will be presenting my own versions with the various formats.


  1. I love this post! I'm going to add this to my Storytime Tools class syllabus. Can't wait to see your 5 different posts to go along with this story.

    1. Thank you! It was fun coming up with the different versions. I hope it encourages people to try different types of storytelling and to be willing to change stories to fit their programs.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.