Let the story tell itself, and if it is a good story and you have prepared it well,
you do not need all the extras—the costumes, the histrionics, the high drama.
Children of all ages do want to hear stories. Select well, prepare well, and then
go forth, stand tall, and just tell.
A SMALL BOY SAT between two adults at the village soda fountain. He had just been collected from his first library story hour, and a celebration was in order. The storyteller sat three stools away, unrecognizable in winter scarf and hood. The curious adults were trying in vain to pry some statement of reaction to the story hour from the boy, a most reluctant informer, until at last one of them complained with some asperity, "You could at least tell us how the teacher told the stories? Did she read them from a book? Did she tell them from memory?" "Oh, mother," he explained with a long sigh, "she just told them from herself."2
No storyteller ever received higher praise, for the ultimate goal is to tell a story so simply and directly that it appears to be told "from yourself." All the emphasis should be placed upon the story rather than upon the storyteller, who is, for the time being, simply a vehicle through which the beauty and wisdom and humor of the story come to the listener.
Before beginning, call up the essential emotions of the story as you first felt them. When you tell from the part of you that was touched by the story, the story becomes yours.
Breathe deeply and begin. No matter what the opening words of the story are, the tone should be intimate.
Look directly at your listeners. As you tell, let your gaze move from one to another so that each child feels involved in the telling of the story. Break direct eye contact only to look at an imaginary scene or object you want your listeners to see, or when you engage in dialogue between two or more characters during the telling.