Alton, IL

                                 June 5, 2004




                                    Taleypo the Storyteller


Marilyn Kinsella, of Fairview Heights, IL, has been telling stories since 1981. She tells stories “…from nursery schools to nursing homes.” Her folktales come from many cultures, but her favorite stories are those she wrote about growing up in her small, Mid-western town. Her stories are full of energy and a delicate blend of action and word imaging. As a full-time, free-lance teller she travels to where stories want to be told. Besides telling, she often leads workshops, gives keynote addresses, and performs puppet plays. She has told stories to hundreds of schools and libraries in the Midwest and has been featured at many festivals including The St. Louis Storytelling Festival Under the Arch, The New Salem Festival, and The Illinois Storytelling Festival. For a complete bio and story information visit Marilyn at:

645 Pleasant Ridge Road

Fairview Heights, IL 62208






                                              WHY STORYTELLING


                                              MARILYN A. KINSELLA                                        website:


Why not read a story, listen to a tape or record, or let the students read it?  BECAUSE...through storytelling the listener listens with the heart first.  It is a case of heart to art communication.  Once the story is felt, then it is ready to do some internalizing




                         HOW TO TELL STORIES IN TEN EASY LESSONS


1.   Find a story that strikes a chord...your funny bone...your value system...your           sentiments...your sense of aesthetics.  Sometimes it's not for months later that you discover why a story appeals to you.  You just know that it is a story  that you have to tell.  Listen to your inner voice.  Avoid telling a story because someone asks you.  Not all stories strike that chord in you, and  those stories will come out sounding flat.

2.  Memorize your prayers, your songs, your pledges, your lines for plays...but               not your stories. Read or listen to a story all the way through several times.  Read it aloud or talk along with a tape.  Make a storyboard, an outline or  story path. This is better than memorizing word for word.

3.   Now put the story away and don't look at it until you are telling it in your own        words.  To do this, start by sequencing the story in your mind. See each  scene like pictures on a filmstrip with lots of detail.  Always review this sequence especially when first telling a story.

4.  Next, make the story your own.  Do this by reading different versions of the             same story, deciding on the character of the characters, writing compelling       dialog, adding a few clever word twists with some well-placed metaphors,          and adding participation  (if told to a young audience).

5.   Practice a strong beginning and ending.  All else can be semi-rehearsed.

6.   Write your version down once it is a "keeper"

7.   TELL IT!! the walls, your kids, the dog (I prefer telling the story alone in                 the car)

8.   Talk to the audience (or class) before you begin. Let them know who you  are or little about why you are telling the story.  However, PLEASE keep this short.

9.   Go ahead and make a mistake - make your day.  Just remember to keep

 the ones you like.  They won’t know it is mistake unless you tell them.

10. The best critique of the story is - the faces of those listening.  But give your story some time to iron itself out and to find the right audience.






                             BIBLIOGRAPHY EASY STORIES TO TELL


                                               MARILYN KINSELLA


"Handbook for Storytellers" by Caroline Feller Bauer.


"Children's Faces Looking Up: Program Building for the Storyteller" by Dorothy De Wit.


"Storytelling with Caroline Feller Bauer" videocassette.



Books by Gerald McDermott

- "Coyote," "The Stonecutter," "Zomo the Rabbit," "Anansi"


Books by Eric Kimmel

- "Anansi and the Moss-covered Rock," Anansi and the Talking Melon," "Anansi Goes Fishing."


Books by Paul Galdone

- "Tailypo," The Gingerbread Boy, "Little Red Hen."


Shari Lewis' One Minute Stories

- "Bedtime Stories," "Favorite Fairy Tales," "Animal Stories, Bible Stories," "Greek Myths" and "Christmas Stories."


"Thirty-three Multicultural Tales to Tell" by Pleasant DeSpain.

"Twenty-two Splendid Tales to Tell From Around the World."

"Pleasant Journeys" ( an earlier version of the pervious titles.)


"Stone Soup," by Marcia Brown.


"The Baker's Dozen," by Heather Forest.


Remember the 398.2 in the juvenile section of the library holds a gold mine of stories for telling. Look in the “J” section for collections and “E” for picture books

Resources and information on storytelling is available through the National Storytelling Network 101 Courthouse Sq, Jonesborough, TN 37659. (1-800/525-4514.) 


Information on storytelling in Missouri is available through MO-TELL.  Sue Hinkel, 2236 S. Hwy. N. Pacific, MO 63069 (800-257-7014)


And, of course, I'll always be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding stories or storytelling. Marilyn Kinsella (618) 397-1377; or visit me at my website:

Telling from Birth to 2 year olds

Although I have a lot of experience in telling "from nursery school to nursing home" (as my business card states), I must confess to not having a lot of telling time devoted to children two and younger. Most of the information in this section comes from Barb Driesner, Judy Nichols, and Mary Jo Huff. These three fine storytellers tell successfully to the youngest of listeners. In this section there are some recommended storybooks that are better read than told. The youngest listeners are still learning concepts. So, the books sometimes have one or two words with pictures of the concept. Gradually, short stories are introduced as the child listens with greater acceptance. The following is divided into 3 sections:

I. Tips for Lapsit and Toddler Story Times

II. Books for Babies

III. Reference Material


I. Tips for Lapsit and Toddler Story Times

   Tips for Lapsit and Toddler Story Times   

                                                                        by Barb Driesner

                                                                  Edwardsville Public Library



 II. Books for Babies

A Selected Bibliography

by Judy Nichols

In the library catalog look under the following subject headings: 

Storytime Activities, Fingerplays or Finger Play, Puppets, Children’s Songs,

Children’s Libraries -- Activity Programs, Flannel board or Flannelgraphs, and Education (Preschool).  Search for related topics, such as Crafts, Games, Songs, Nursery Rhymes, Child Development and Cooking.  Browse library shelves in Dewey Decimal categories:  372 for early childhood education and storytelling, 641 for cooking, 745 for crafts, 784 for songs, and 793 for games.  Ask your librarian for additional suggestions.


Suggested books and stories by Barb Driesner and Marilyn Kinsella:

·         Bridges, Margaret Park. Am I big or little?

·         Grindley, Sally. Silly Goose and Dizzy Duck hunt for a rainbow, Eat up, Piglittle

·         Murphy, Mary,  Here comes the rain

Collections of Nursery Rhymes:

Most nursery rhyme collections are found in the 398.8 sections of the library. Be sure to check both the juvenile and the easy book non-fiction sections. The following are special collections:

·         All-time favorite nursery rhymes” [sound recording] / concept by Dieter Wilkinson

·         “Animal nursery rhymes” (sound recording)  compiled by Angela Wilkes.

·         “Baby's nursery rhymes” [videorecording] / sung by Phylicia Rashad

III. Resources:

Judy Nichols has written a wonderful resource book called:

Storytimes for Two-Year-Olds.  It is currently out of print but can be found in a library search.

Here are some of Judy’s favorites concerning literacy:

·         Chupela, Dolores.  Ready, Set, Go! 

·         DeSalvo, Nancy.  Beginning With Books. 

·         Jeffery, Debby Ann.  Literate Beginnings. 

·         Kaye, Peggy.  Games with Books. 

·         Kuffner, Trish Picture Book Activities. 

·         MacDonald, Margaret ReadBookplay. 

·         Toole, Amy L.  Off to a Good Start

Here are more books on choosing books, stories, and activities from Judy’s bibliography:

-          Ernst, Linda L.  Lapsit Services For the Very Young:  A How-To-Do-It Manual

-          Bishop, Ashley, et al Ready for reading : a handbook for parents of preschoolers

-          Catron, Carol Elaine and Barbara Catron Parks.  Super Story Telling:  Creative Ideas Using Finger Plays, Flannel Board Stories, Pocket Stories, and Puppets with Young Children.

-          Greene, Ellin.  Books, Babies, and Libraries:  Serving Infants, Toddlers, Their Parents and Caregivers

Using children's books in preschool settings : a how-to-do-it manual / Steven Herb and Sara Willoughby-Herb.

Creative idea books to extend stories and books:

Books by Mary Jo Huff

-          Fall frolic / by Mary Jo Huff ; illustrated by Jerry Jindrich.

-          Spring fling / by Mary Jo Huff ; illustrated by Jerry Jindrich

-          Storytelling with puppets, props, & playful tales / Mary Jo Huff ; illustrated by Marilynn Barr.

-          Summer surprise / by Mary Jo Huff ; illustrated by Jerry Jindrich

-          Winter whimsy / by Mary Jo Huff ; illustrated by Jerry Jindrich.

Themeasaurus I & II by Jean Warren

Toddler time / by Francesca Simon ; illustrated by Susan Winter

Using children's books in preschool settings : a how-to-do-it manual / Steven Herb and Sara Willoughby-Herb

Story Stretchers books by Shirley Raines, et al

Story stretchers for infants, toddlers, and twos : experiences, activities, and games for popular children's books

·         More story s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-r-s : more activities to expand children's favorite books

·         Story stretchers : activities to expand children's favorite book

·         Story stretchers for the primary grades : activities to expand children's favorite books



Best of the “Mailbox Magazine”:  Songs, Poems, and Fingerplays. Education Center, 1998. 

Also available:  Busy Kids: ABCs & 123s, Busy Kids: Fine-Motor Fun, Busy Kids: Songs & Rhymes, and Busy Kids: Storytime. 

“Lady Bug Magazine.”  [Monthly]  Carus Corp.:  Box 7436, Red Oak, IA  51591-2436

Barb Driesner

Mary Jo Huff

Judy Nichols

  Part Two:  Telling to 3 to 5 Year Olds


The following compilation of ideas, stories, and resources came from my years as the storyteller at the Edwardsville Public Library, my cyber-friends on Storytell and other storytelling friends. As the storyteller, I developed many Pre-School/Parent Storytimes. As with any compilation according to age, there are certain gray areas – stories that can be told to younger or older age groups by adjusting the vocabulary and the style in which the story is presented. Some stories make great reading for children but not for telling. There are others that can be adapted to telling. The stories below are “tried and true.”  They are meant for telling without using a book. Although some of the stories listed can be told with props, they can (for the most part) also be told without. This compilation is divided into five parts. The sections include:


I.                    Earmarks of good stories for young listeners

II.                 Stories to tell

III.              Story Stretchers, Songs, and Fillers

IV.               Tips for Telling

V.                   Bibliography and Websites

Thanks to Contributors


I.                   Earmarks of good stories for young listeners

·         ·      Stories are short - usually around 5-8 minutes

·         ·      Action in the story is more desirable than lots of descriptive passages

·         ·      Participation is vital

·         ·      Simple vocabulary

·         ·      Simple linear plot with repetition

·         ·      Events that children can relate to.

·         ·      Stories with talking animals and inanimate objects and stories in rhyme

·         ·     Prop stories - lap puppets, acetate boards, flannel boards, pocket and swallowing stories, 3-dimensional objects from the story, flip stories, glove mitt stories and fingerplays, apron stories, draw-and-tell tales and storytelling dolls

·         ·     Avoid fractured fairy tales, stories with trick endings, riddles, or stories that use too many unusual or foreign words.

II.                Stories to tell:

·       Any of the standard nursery tales including - Little Red Riding  Hood, Goldilocks, The Gingerbread Man, Chicken Little, The Little Red Hen, The Three Billy Goats Gruff

·      Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock (African) - one version by Eric Kimmel

·      Anansi The Spider (African, Ashanti) by Gerald Mc Dermott

·      Where the Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak)

·      The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything (Linda Williams)

·     The Humpback Gorrible with the Hole in it's Head (Cricket Magazine, Oct., 1986)

·     The Wishing Star and Looking for Spring by Bethany Roberts in

     Waiting For Spring Stories

·      Nursery Rhymes. Recite and then have the class do it with you.

·      I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson. Great for Thanksgiving and Christmas

·         ·      Brown, Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle - great with props or pictures

·         ·    The Big-Mouth Frog - version in Margaret Read MacDonald's book, The Parent's Guide to Storytelling.

·         ·      The Lion and the Mouse by Aesop.   

·         ·      Who's in Rabbit's House by Aardema

·         ·      The Belly Button Monster - More Ready to Tell Tales by Holt and Mooney

·         ·     The Barking Mouse - More Ready to Tell Tales by Holt and Mooney

·         ·     The Enormous Turnip – (Russian) retold by Kathy Parkinson

·         ·    The Snow Queen With the Cold Cold Heart - Very interactive. Crazy Gibberish by Naomi Baltuck

·         ·      Mabela the Clever - Limba folktale adapted by Margaret Read MacDonald

·         ·      Darby, the Tailor – adaptation by Marilyn Kinsella of “The Tailor” story,      a Jewish version retold by Steve Sanfield in Bit by Bit.

·         ·     Why the Bear Has A Stumpy Tale a version in “Why” Stories with Basic Vocabulary by Edward and Margurite Dolce

·         ·      Tiddalick the Frog - Australian folktale by Susan Nunes

·         ·      Jump Frog Jump by Robert Kalan

·         ·      Ten Little Rabbits by Virginia Grossman

·         ·      Hermie: a Common Caterpillar  by Max Lucado

·         ·      The Mitten (Ukrainian folktale) retold by Jan Brett

·         ·      Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag

·         ·       Harry and the Terrible Whatzit and A Bagful of Pups by Dick Gackenbach

·         ·      Dark, Dark Night a version in A Dark, Dark Tale  by Ruth Brown

·         ·     The Little Red House with No Window or Doors

·         ·      Cheese, Peas, and Chocolate Pudding in It’s Time For Storyhour by Sechrist and Woolsey

·         ·      Caps for Sale by Slobokin

·         ·      The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

·         ·      Stone Soup a version by Marcia Brown

·         ·      Monkey Face by Frank Asch. Makes a good draw-and-tell story

·         ·      The Carrot Seed by Ruth Kraus

·         ·    Jennie's Hat by Ezra Jack Keats

·         ·    Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

·         ·    Mother, Mother, I want Another by Maria Polushkin

·         ·   The Tail Who Wagged the Dog by Robert Kraus

·         ·    Crictor the Boa Constrictor  by Tom Ungerer

·         ·   Mortimer by Robert Munsch

·         ·   Frog and Toad  (and any of the sequels) by Arnold Lobel

·         ·   The Toothwitch by Nurit Karlin

·         ·     Too Much Noise

·         ·     Bremen Town Musicians

·         ·      Feegbah the enormous pumpkin (Fran Stallings in The Ghost and I)

·         ·     Grandfather bear is hungry (found in 1 of Margaret Read MadDonald's books)


The following can also be used as a swallowing prop story:

·         ·       Sody Sallyratus (American southern folktale)

·         ·       The Old Woman who Swallowed a Fly....

·         ·       The Clay Pot Boy  by Cynthia Jameson

·         ·       The Fat Cat (Danish folktale) by Jack Kent

·         ·     The Singing Snake (Australian folktale) by Stefan Czernecki and Timothy   Rhodes

·         ·       The Eye of the Needle (Alaskan story) by Teri Sloat


III.             Story Stretchers, Songs, and Fingerplays:

·         ·      Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle

·         ·      If you're ready for a story find your seat,
If you're ready for a story find your seat,
If you're ready for a story
Check your hands and then your feet,
If you're ready for a story find your seat.
(You can also use this as a story stretch and add all kinds of other movement as well and let the above be the last stanza. Example: clap your hands, stomp your feet, take a bow, turn around, etc.)

·         ·    “Hi, My Name is Joe” a version on “WOOF hits home” by Bill Wellington (audio-cassette)

·         ·       "My Aunt Came Back" found in Crazy Gibberish by Naomi Baltuck.

·         ·       “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear” found in Crazy Gibberish by Naomi Baltuck works great. It is gentle and quiet, offering movement but the ending line "teddy bear teddy bear sit back down" and gets them ready for stories.

·         ·        Five Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow

·         ·      Bought me a Cat - traditional Ozark nonsense story or song found in Wee Sing Fun ‘n Folk

·         ·      Going On a Lion Hunt (variants) David Axtel in We’re Going on a Lion Hunt

·         ·       Boa Constrictor in Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends

·         ·     The Slithery-Dee lives under the sea. He might eat you but he won’t eat me. The Slithery-Dee lives under the sea. He might eat you but he won’t (Slurp!)


IV.              Tips for Telling

·         ·       Be animated, use gestures, funny voices

·         ·      Avoid scary voices and being too loud

·         ·      Tell to small groups (about 25 max) - no need for microphone

·         ·     Teller should sit in a chair with students on the floor. Try to keep them fairly close. The further back they are from you, the less attentive they are to the stories.

·         ·      If a word is used in the story that is unfamiliar to the class talk about it ahead of time or incorporate its definition into the story.

·         ·     Do not ask questions of the group during the story unless you are prepared to answer all the questions and be ready for inappropriate and long responses. Some children will raise their hands and have to tell you about what their brother or sister did that morning, and you are stuck listening – that’s not a bad thing – except you are being paid to tell stories not to listen to them.

·         ·      Don’t ask this age group, if they have any questions. They (for the most part) don’t understand the concept of what a question is. If they raise their hands, it’s probably to relate something that is not even remotely related to what you are talking about.

·         ·     What do you say when the child can't remember what he/she was about to say? The little ones get their feeling hurt rather easily.

·         ·     Participation is key to telling to this age. Keep the participation the same. Once you've set it up - don't change the words or rhythm. Recognize that the participation has to be short and simple enough so they can follow along yet snappy and “ear” catching so they “want” to follow along.

·         ·    Participation can include making nature sounds, onomatopoeia, simple rhymes and songs, musical sounds, physical gestures and noises (hand clapping, snapping, etc), machine sounds, animal noises, a repeated word or phrase

·         ·     Have a familiar gesture that allows the students to join in on the participation and, if it is a repeated sound, tell them how many times to do it. Ex. “ For thunder let’s clap 3 times (and as you clap say) one, two, three.” Have a signal that lets them know the participation is over.

·         ·     You will notice that with very young children that once you set up that they are allowed to participate, they will want to join in on many more things in the story than you are prepared for. So, just go with the flow. Let them finish your sentences or a word that has become familiar in the story.

·         ·      Keep the participation simple - make sure they can do it. Some of the little ones can’t snap their fingers or remember over two lines.

·         ·     Parents or teachers should be present and aware that you appreciate their presence in keeping the young children focused on the storytelling by joining in on participation and correcting any inappropriate behavior

·         ·    Use a rhythm clap or "Open Them, Shut Them" rhyme to get their attention and settle them down.

·         ·    End the story with something that lets them know the story is over “And that’s the end of the that story” of  “And they all lived…(let them join in with) happily, ever after.”

·         ·      Probably the most important thing for telling to really young children is to be playful and to present the stories with a positive, energetic attitude. Smile when the children arrive. If time, ask them to do a fingerplay or song that they are working on.


V. Bibliography

Joining In: an Anthology of Audience Participation Stories and How to Tell Them

.Storytelling with Puppets, second edition, Connie Champlin

Teeny Tiny Folktales, compiled by Jean Warren (simple folktales for young

children plus flannelboard patterns), Warren Publishing House

Paper Stories by Jean Stangl (these are cut and tell stories, great fun)

Short Short Stories compiled by Jean Warren (simple stories for young

children plus seasonal activities), Warren Publishing House

Easy to Tell Stories for Young Children by Annette Harrison

Wee Sing   over 35 different tapes and sing-a-long books on simple songs to sing. Publisher: Los Angeles, Calif. : Price/Stern/Sloan

Storytelling with Puppets, Props, & Playful Tales  by Mary Jo Huff

Stories to Tell to Children by Laura Cathon

Juba This and Juba That by V A Tashjian

Books by Anne Pellowski

Shake-it-up tales! : stories to sing, dance, drum, and act out  and Tuck-me-in tales by Margaret Read MacDonald

Tell a Story, Make a Friend  with Jim May [videorecording]: Stories for young children and storytellers of all ages / produced by Afterglow Creative Services.


WEBSITES:  Storytelling Dolls -   Paper-cutting story   Paper-cutting books    Glove mitts


          VI. Thanks to the following storytellers for their help:

Karen Chace, Kimberly King, Bev Comer, Rita Kohler, Joan Kimball, Barb Driesner, Batsy Bybell and most especially Annette Harrison.