Telling at Nursing Homes

Telling at nursing homes can be a rewarding and exciting experience. But, the residents have special needs and that carries over into storytelling. This paper does not include seniors who are living independently at senior homes or who attend senior citizens clubs. For the most part, telling to the average senior is no different than telling to any other adult. However, when a teller goes into a nursing home, it calls for a little special care in story selection and performance. There is a fine line most tellers who tell to seniors try not to cross and that is…not talking down to residents of nursing homes by selecting stories that are meant for young children. There are twp exceptions…if a multi-generational day is held at a nursing home, stories for the youngsters is enjoyed by both the young and the "young at heart." Also, a nursing home may ask for folktales from a particular culture – Native American, African, etc. Then, whatever stories you have in your repertoire, would be most appropriate.

  1. Earmarks of a good story
  2. Stories to tell
  3. Tips for Telling
  4. Bibliography and websites
  5. Appreciations

  1. Earmarks of a good story to tell to people living in nursing homes

II.  Stories to Tell:

  • The Cracked Pot

  • The Tiger's Whisker (variants) by Courlander, Harold

  • The Piper's Revenge -Robin Williamson-5 Humorous Tales From Scotland and Ireland

  • Cinderella (Variants and from different countries) esp. Duncan Williams "Traveller's Cinderella"

  • The Man Who Married a Troll

  • Two of Everything (variants) A Chinese Folktale by Lily Toy Hong

  • The Fisherman and his Wife (variants) collected by Brothers Grimm

  • Crooked Mick (Australian folklore!)

  • The Lute Player collected by Andrew Lang. Also on the website:

Seasonal Tales (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter; Christmas, Easter, Hanukah etc)

  • My First Day at School; How I Broke My Father's Legs; Learning to Swim; Choosing a Sister etc.
    One of my favorite stories to tell to Nursing Homes is "Two Old Women Make a Bet". I often pair it with the Cherokee story of the Origin of Strawberries.

  • I talk about the oldest war in the world: the war between men and women.  Since most nursing home residents are elderly ladies, they seem to like the subject matter.

  • The Perfect Heart


  • Chicken Soup for the Soul (various stories)

  • $50,000 Race Horse

  • Muldoon in Love and most of Patrick McManus’s short stories.

  • Many of the short stories from Richard Kennedy collections

  • Once a Good Man (variants) Jane Yolen’s The Hundreth Dove

  • The Three Wishes (variants) Swedish folktale

  • Sleeping Ugly by Jane Yolen

III.    Tips for Telling:

IV. Bibliography and Websites:





V. Appreciations:

Mary Lu Bretsch, Mike Anderson, Mabel Kaplan, Elizabeth Ellis