Oral Storytelling in School: Books, Websites, Research Articles

Do you want to learn more about storytelling in school? I aim to make this page an excellent resource for all research, books, and websites about oral storytelling in school.

After becoming a primary school teacher, I taught children aged 8-11 for over seven years. When I got to work full-time as a storyteller, I still worked a lot in schools.

When writing about oral storytelling for this website, I realized I had a lot of experience as both a teacher and a storyteller for children. What I missed was knowledge of the theoretical research that had been done in this field.

I went online and took many hours to gather and screen the freely available online research, books, and websites about oral storytelling in school.

The books, websites, and research articles on this page focus on storytelling in kindergarten, elementary, and primary school.

Let me know when you know about a great resource online I missed!

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💡 As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I get a little percentage whenever you buy something after clicking one of my affiliate links. Thanks!

Books about oral storytelling in school

Storytelling schools series (C. Smith and others)

I haven’t read any book in this series, but that’s my loss. These six books look like they will give you almost anything you need for storytelling in the classroom.

The method they teach has been adopted in hundreds of schools across the UK and was thoroughly tested. This experience has been used to refine the books.

Currently, there are six books in this series.

Story proof: the science behind the startling power of story (K. Haven)

I own this book, and it was fascinating to read it. He strings together a lot of research that has been done on storytelling and also reports the findings from his own research.

One of the conclusions is that teaching children the structure of stories through oral storytelling is very helpful for their writing skills.

I found this book a bit dry; it’s primarily enjoyable if you want to do deeper research into storytelling in school.

Kendall Haven, the author of Story Proof, about your brain on story

Storytelling in early childhood: enriching language, literacy and classroom culture (T. Cremin and others)

This book explores the multiple dimensions of storytelling and story acting and how they improve language and literacy learning in the early years.

It’s primarily interesting for you if you want to know more about storytelling in school with younger children.

Tell me a story: stories from the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (L. deForest and others)

I love how stories and storytelling are used in the Waldorf schools. Each year, children are told many stories and work with stories and storytelling in many layers of their curriculum.

I recommend each teacher visit the nearest Waldorf school and discover firsthand how they work with stories. This book comes highly recommended.

Teaching as story telling: an alternative approach to teaching and curriculum in the elementary school (K. Egan)

This is one of the oldest books about oral storytelling in schools, published in 1986. Many of the principles of the imaginative approach that Kieran Egan proposes are still valid.

The book is worth mentioning, but I suggest choosing a more recent book if you want to work with storytelling in your curriculum.

Teaching with story: classroom connections to storytelling (M. R. MacDonald and others)

I have four books of Margaret Read Macdonald on my shelf with storytelling books. She excels in some very useful story collections (peace tales, tales for 5 minutes, etc.).

Her books are very practical, and this book is no exception. Yes, a lot is explained about storytelling, but the main focus is getting teachers and librarians to start telling stories!

That’s why this book features many stories you can tell and tips on how to tell them.

How to tell stories to children (J. Sarosy, S. R. West)

This book about storytelling to children is more geared toward parents and grandparents but is also interesting for educators.

I liked this quote:

It’s about telling stories, simple stories, that feed the relationship with your child and will be remembered for the rest of your lives.

This book focuses on telling your own stories; it’s not so much about sharing stories already being told or available in print. It’s a book that makes me happy. 🙂

Useful websites about oral storytelling in school

Tellatale (storyteller Richard Martin)

There’s a wealth of stories to watch and information about telling stories on the website of this storyteller. The focus is primarily on storytelling for secondary school and adult learning, but much is also very usable for younger children.

https://www.tellatale.eu/resources/classroom

Storyarts (storyteller Heather Forest)

On this website, you will find a wealth of information for educators and librarians alike. There is a lot of practical information on telling stories in the classroom and lesson plans and activities.

Don’t forget to visit the storytelling store on her website. I have her ‘Wisdom Tales’ and ‘Wonder Tales’ collections, which are lovely.

https://www.storyarts.org/

European project ‘TALES’

The castle in Alden Biesen is famous for its storytelling performances, courses, and workshops. Several projects, financed by EU money, have run from there to encourage the use of storytelling.

One such project is the TALES project. This is the manual:

https://issuu.com/aldenbieseneu/docs/manual-tales-eng_final

Back to elementary school with storytelling (Edutopia)

I taught many courses and workshops in storytelling to teachers. I’m always aware that my main challenge is giving the participants the tools and courage to try it out in their classrooms.

When teachers come back with enthusiastic stories about how they told a story in their classroom and how the children reacted, I smile. Experience has taught them more than whatever else I could say to them.

This article sparkles with the enthusiasm of storytelling and tries to light a fire in the reader to try it out for themselves.

https://www.edutopia.org/article/first-day-storytelling-elementary-school/

6 Goals of storytelling in the classroom (Storyteller Rudolf Roos)

Why are you telling a story? In this classroom, in this lesson, at this moment, to those children?

Answering this legitimate question from my principal led me to write this article, in which I recognize the different goals you can have with telling a story in your classroom.

https://internationalstoryteller.com/oral-storytelling-in-the-classroom/

Online research about oral storytelling in school

Unfortunately, a lot of helpful research is locked behind paywalls. However, plenty of academic articles about storytelling in school are available freely online.

Storytelling in teaching, M. C. Green (2004)

Why use storytelling in teaching psychology? The author outlines the purposes, effects, sources, and use of storytelling in teaching psychology to higher education students.

https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/storytelling-in-teaching

How stories connect and persuade us: Unleashing the brain power of narrative, E. Renken (2020)

Summary of popular scientific research into the brain on storytelling. Which brain parts are activated when we tell and listen to stories?

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/04/11/815573198/how-stories-connect-and-persuade-us-unleashing-the-brain-power-of-narrative

Fostering values through authentic storytelling, M. Gunawardena, B. Brown (2021)

This article offers two things. First, a literature review of methods used in values education in Australia. Second, a pedagogical model for storytelling.

https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1309362

The effect of storytelling skill acquisition on the impromptu speaking attitudes and anxiety levels of 6th grade students, F. Dogan, S. Çifci (2021)

Research into the effect of storytelling skills on the anxiety generated when asking students to do impromptu speaking.

https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1318816

Listening to our students: their stories, H. Roessingh (2018)

Article about the role of storytelling in promoting inclusion in the classroom. Including literature, practical ideas, and examples.

https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1245376

Connecting storytelling and social wellness: a case for holistic storytelling in the elementary classroom, R. Tinckler (2017)

According to this study, storytelling fosters social wellness in the classroom. It supports the healthy development of each child as a whole human being within and as part of that community.

https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1253509

Teaching with stories as the content and context for learning, F. Vitali (2016)

In this semester-long project, preservice teacher candidates coach students in telling their family stories. The students come from diverse backgrounds (Navajo, Hispanic, Mexican, and White). The reflections of the teacher candidates are fascinating to read. It sounds like they learned as much as their pupils.

https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1090163

Hearing ancestral voices through creative art — a tool for environmental education for sustainability, N. Silo, K. Khudu-Petersen (2016)

In this African project, village elders first tell the children folktales in their local language. They are very involved in the stories. Using different processes, the children also manage to work with the stories in English and the national language. Local teachers experience the value of working in the local language with the children.

https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1099633

The effect of teaching science through storytelling on students’ academic achievement, story writing skills and opinions about practice, T. Demirci, S. Okur (2021)

One group of students was taught a science subject in the ‘traditional’ way. The other group was taught it using stories and storytelling. The last group performed better in the end story on the subject they both needed to write.

https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1301031

Storytelling with young children, J. Smyth (2005)

Excellent resource about storytelling to and with young children. Includes theory, practical tips, and example stories. Describes experiences in storytelling, including photos and a resource list. It’s a book about storytelling you can download and use for free!

https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED488942

Missing research, books, websites

Are you missing a great resource here? I’d love to hear from you and am happy to include it. Contact me here.

If you are an elementary school teacher, you might also really enjoy reading my storytelling tips for elementary school teachers.

Photo credits: Jan Vašek from Pixabay