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 Ė 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:
Earmarks of good stories for young listeners
Stories to tell
Story Stretchers, Songs, and Fillers
Tips for Telling
Bibliography and Websites
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 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
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 GruffÖ
Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock (African) - one version by Eric
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,
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
The Big-Mouth Frog - version in Margaret Read MacDonald's book, The
Parent's Guide to Storytelling.
The Lion and the Mouse by
Who's in Rabbit's House by Aardema
The Belly Button Monster - More Ready to Tell Tales by Holt and
The Barking Mouse - More Ready to Tell Tales by Holt and Mooney
The Enormous Turnip Ė (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
Darby, the Tailor Ė 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
The Little Red House with No Window or Doors
Cheese, Peas, and Chocolate Pudding in Itís 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
The following can also be used as a swallowing prop
(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
The Eye of the Needle
(Alaskan story) by Teri Sloat
II. 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
"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 Ďn Folk
Going On a Lion Hunt a version by David Axtel in Weíre Going on a
Boa Constrictor in Shel Silversteinís Where the Sidewalk Ends
The Slithery-Dee lives under the sea. He might eat you but he wonít
eat me. The Slithery-Dee lives under the sea. He might eat you but he wonít
III. 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 Ė thatís not a
bad thing Ė except you are being paid to tell stories not to listen to them.
Donít ask this age group, if they have any questions. They (for the most
part) donít understand the concept of what a question is. If they raise their
hands, itís 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 letís 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 canít 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
thatís the end of the that story" of "And they all livedÖ(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.
IV. Bibliography and Websites:
1.Storytelling with Puppets, second edition,
2. Teeny Tiny Folktales, compiled by Jean
Warren (simple folktales for young
children plus flannelboard patterns), Warren
3. Paper Stories by Jean Stangl (these are cut
and tell stories, great fun)
4.Short Short Stories compiled by Jean Warren
(simple stories for young
children plus seasonal activities), Warren Publishing
5. Easy to Tell Stories for Young Children by
6. Wee Sing over 35 different tapes and
sing-a-long books on simple songs to sing. Publisher: Los Angeles, Calif. :
7. Storytelling with Puppets, Props, & Playful
Tales by Mary Jo Huff
8. Stories to Tell to Children by Laura Cathon
9. Juba This and Juba That by V A Tashjian
10. Books by Anne Pellowski
11. Shake-it-up tales! : stories to sing,
dance, drum, and act out and Tuck-me-in tales
by Margaret Read MacDonald