Curriculum Vital

How to become a storyteller

Illuminated O.jpgnce upon a time, in the year 2000, National Storytelling Week was conceived. Whether you use it to teach storytelling or to enjoy a great group activity, everyone can take away with them a new understanding of how hearing a story out loud can bring writing to life.

Whether you're telling a tale to a group of friends or your class at school, take a look at our top tips for storytelling and see which ones you can use to become a better storyteller.

Getting ready to read a story:Setting Up The Story.png

  • Choose a story that you enjoy. You'll have to read it a few times before reading it to a group, so pick something that you won't get sick of! You will also need to make sure that it is appropriate for, and appeals to, the whole class.
  • Practice makes perfect. Read the story, or section of story you're going to read a few times before the event. Good knowledge of the writing makes for a confident reading voice, and this will make the story flow well and the experience much more enjoyable.
  • Practice makes perfect... again! Read the story out loud on your own. It doesn't matter if you look daft, there's no one there to see you. Do you need to differentiate between the characters? Practice with whimsical voices, you don't need to do anything too over the top. Can you relate the characters to any that you are familiar with from films or TV? Try using their intonation and accents until you find something you're comfortable with using.Other things to remember.png
  • Remember, remember. If you can remember pieces throughout the story it will give you a great opportunity to make eye contact with pupils and make sure they're all still engaged.
  • Acting the part. Bring gestures into the reading. Children are very easily distracted, movement will help to keep their attention focused on you. Bring a hand up in a claw like pose and snarl if you're the big bad wolf for example. If you've decided you aren't good with voices this will also help them identify the specific characters in the text. Consistently use the same actions for each line of their speech and soon they will know before you even speak who is going to appear next. Also remember to use facial expressions, and everyone needs to see them so make them exaggerated, this will also add to the humour in telling the story.Storytelling.png
  • Joining in. Look for bits in the story where they can join in. If Red Riding Hood skips through the forest to Granny's house, why not have them skip once round the classroom as you read that bit of the story. If there is a question in the text, is it one you can ask the children? Take a small break in the story and ask them, get a couple of responses and then continue. Sitting still and paying attention for a long time is not suited to all children, so this is a chance to get involved in something helps them to break up the time.
  • Pace yourself. Practice the speed of your reading. You might find yourself picking up the pace if you realise you're running out of time. Try to avoid this, you can always fit the rest of the story in another day. When you speed up you'll end up losing listeners who can't follow the story. Slowing down will help them to follow easily and they'll be able to understand more.
  • Ultimately a storytelling session will help them learn how to become a storyteller themselves. Why not, as a reward for something in class, let a group of children take a turn reading a story out to the class?

Good books to read aloud for ages 5 to 8:

Good books to read aloud for ages 9 to 11: