III. Telling Stories from Young Teens to Adults

As the listener progresses through the various stages of development –so does his ability to grasp certain stories that before were too difficult or beyond his/her social development. This age opens a wide-range of stories that challenge and entertain. Of course, choosing the right story is only half of the equation. There are performance techniques that also play a heavy hand on how well this group accepts storytelling. One of the biggest hurdles, when telling to this age group, is to let them know that storytelling is for all ages. The teller will not be talking down to them – no, au contraire! They will be challenged to keep up with the story. It can be disheartening for a teller to walk into an auditorium full of 13 and 14 year olds and hear an audible moan and see the rolling of eyes – a storyteller…that’s for babies. The teller has his/her work cut out for them. The amount of work that goes into learning stories for this age group could double and even triple in preparation. This group will not be as likely to forgive as the younger listeners. But, having said that, the rewards you get from the "right" story told well is insurmountable. To watch that same group of young teens being drawn into the story, to watch the story have an impact, to hear them walking away talking about the stories are Holy Grail which tellers’ seek. Adult listeners, at least, accept you as a storyteller. They are respectful of your craft. But, the teller has to come through with a program that serves the objectives of the group. It’s not just one story. It’s a program of stories that allows the listener to ride the "roller-coaster of emotions." Elizabeth Ellis, a master storyteller has a formula…First, tell a Ha-ha story – get the audience laughing, then go for a story an Ah-ha! This story has a trick or surprise ending. Then, slip in an Ahhh story – something that touches the heart. Finally (and it may never come to this) tell an Amen story – a story that makes the listener sit back and mull the story over and over and see the greater implications this story has on life. But, of course, the building blocks to telling to Young Teens to Adults are the stories…

  1. Earmarks of a Good Story for Young Teens to Adults
  2. Stories to tell to Young Teens to Adults
  3. Tips for telling to Young Teens to Adults
  4. Bibliography and Websites
  5. Appreciations

                                            Earmarks of a Good Story For Young Teens to Adults

                                                        Stories to Tell to Young Teens to Adults

                                                                   Folktales, Myths, Urban Legends, Fairytales, Spiritual:

  • The Tiger's Whisker--traditional Korean

  • The Snow Bird and the Dove--Alternatives to Violence Project)

  •  Selkie tales in many British Isles collections

  •  Vassalisa Russian folktale

  • The Magic Brocade Chinese folktale

  • Canterbury Tales - and variant tales showing the universality of folklore

  • The Arabian Nights (tap into powerful themes (humor, justice, love and betrayal, etc

  • The Princess and the Vagabond

  • Tale of the Mandarin Ducks

  • Two White Horses (ghost story)

  • Shadow on the Wall (Vietnamese-love story)

  • Mister Fox - English Folk Tale

  • Jack Tales and Grandfather Tales by Richard Chase (Lazy Jack, Jack and the Giant Killer, Jack and the Haunted House, Sop Doll) - Appalachian stories

  • Leopard's Magnificent Drum from Turtle Tales by Pleasant DeSpain

  • Beyond the Bayou

  • The Blue Rose Chinese folktale

  • Brer Rabbit & Tar Baby – Joel Chandler Harris collections

  • Broken Fan

  • Coyote Dances w/Star - Cherokee Legend

  • Curious Frogs fable

  • Dervish in the Road Wisdom tale

  • Filling the House Wisdom tale

  • Grandmother Spider (variants) Cherokee

  • Hoja Stories - Elephant, Wife, Lost Key, Lost Purse - Mid-East Trickster and Sage

  • Ma Lien and the Magic Paintbrush Chinese Folktale

  • Magic Doubling Pot (variants) Chinese folktale

  • One Wish - Wisdom tale

  • Pandora¹s Troubles - Greek myth

  • Possum and Snake also called Br’er Possum’s Dilemma – (variants) in The Knee-High Man by Julius Lester

  • Sherazade - Arabian Stories

  • Smell of the Bread wisdom story

  • Stolen Child (variant) Irish or Scottish fairy-folk tale

  • Stonecutter on Mountain – a Japanese folktale

  • First Strawberries Cherokee legend

  • Tante Tina from Ruthilde Kronberg’s A Piece of the Wind

  • Turtle Flies South or Why Turtle Has a Cracked Shell (variants)

  • Two Polite Babies (joke story)

  • Wide-Mouthed Frog (joke story)

  • Wise Tailor

  • Worry Bundles

  • Black Bubble Gum originally a short story by John Steinbeck/ greatly adapted by tellers

  • Fire Ants and Snake Spit

  • Golden Arm (variants) collected by Mark Twain

  • Hitchhiker (Urban Legend)

  • Trains - Ghost Woman in Cab (Urban Legend)

  • Children push car – Texas (Urban Legend)

  • Victoria on the Goldenrod

  • The Monkey’s Paw (variants) collected and retold by

  • Two Warriors version by Dan Keding

  • Lady Truth – wisdom tale

  • The Conjure Wives – American South

  • The Foolish Man Armenian folktale

  • Wicked John and the Devil - Appalachian folktale

  • Whistling Tsonaquas – Northwest Coast Native American

  • Skunny Wundy and the Stone Giant and The Vampire Skeleton – Iroquois legends in Iroquois Stories Myths and Monsters by Joseph Bruchac

  • The Piasa – Illinois legend

  • The Three Wishes (variants) Swedish folktale

  • The Blue Faience Hippopotamus - Egyptian folktale retold by Joan Grant

  • The Woodcutter and the Bird from Cathy Spagnoli's Asian Tales and Tellers

                                                                                         Literary Suggestions:

                                                                                                  Personal Stories

The personal stories are told by individual tellers. They are an important part of stories told to Young Teens to Adults. The tellers wrote them about their own lives and yet connected the story to a universal theme. They make great listening stories, but, for the most part, are not for retelling. Some of the personal story collections by tellers include:

"Me and Denny" – CD - stories by Mike Anderson

"Fair Views from Old Fairview" by Marilyn Kinsella

    "Teen Angel"

The Farm on Nippersink Creek by Jim May

A Storyteller is a Soybean by Michael Cotter

                                                                           Tips for telling to Young Teen to Adults

  1. Pay attention to the words you choose. Adults especially enjoy a well-crated story with some different sentence structures, limited imagery, and word plays.
  2. Have seats for everyone to sit on. Even Young Teens dislike sitting on the floor for 45 minutes. Arrange the chairs in a comfortable semi-circle.
  3. This a personal preference and it is, by no means, the only way to tell, but I find it best….Plant your feet squarely on the floor or sit on a high stool and tell the story. This age does not need a lot of walking around and animated movement to go along with the story. Gesture with your arms and hands, use facial and vocal expression, but don’t put a lot of extraneous movement in your story. Again, this is a personal preference. I’ve seen a few tellers who move around in the story and they do it extremely well. But, for the most part, the movement seems unnecessary and, at times, it’s just nervousness.
  4. I usually use a microphone. It helps when you want your voice to very soft and it makes great sound effects. It depends on the room, of course, but I’ve found that most storytellers benefit when they use a mic.
  5. For adults, as I mentioned earlier, work on a program of stories. Pick a theme and pick stories that follow that theme but illicit a variety of moods. Remember the roller-coaster ride.
  6. For Young Teens and even Teens I usually start off with a gory story and once I have them hooked I tell a variety of stories. I always end with one of my best to have them leave on a high on storytelling.
  7. Try to work on some study sheets to go along with a couple of the stories. It’s greatly appreciated by the teachers.
  8. Since there are a lot of literary stories that are great to tell to this age group, it is wise to know the copyright laws…if you are getting paid.


"Crossroads: stories of choice and empowerment" CD by Lorna Czarnota with study guide for teachers.

Books by Gail Van de Vos on Storytelling and Young Adults

Judi Sima and Kevin Cordi Raising Voices: Youth Storytelling  ( book on getting students to tell the stories)

Heather Forest -- Wisdom Tales from Around the World and Wonder Tales from Around the World


http://www.storyarts.org/heather.html - Heather Forest’s Website

http://www.youthstorytelling.com/ - Kevin Cordi’s website

http://members.bellatlantic.net/~vze33gpz/myth.html - Myths and Legends

http://www.spiritoftrees.org/ - A web page devoted to stories about trees

http://www.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/storfolk.html - Folklore, myth and legends

http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=jacobs&book=celtic&story=_contents (Celtic stories)

http://www.americanfolklore.net/ - Folklore from the United States


Lorna Czarnota, Jane Gregory, Karen Chace, Beth Horner, Janice Del Negro, Mary Garrett, Mike Anderson, Ellizabeth Ellis, Mary Lu Bretsch.