The Art of Storytelling



I. A Word About Storytelling

A. Many highly sophisticated cultures use storytelling to gently train children.

B. Unlike T.V. storytelling provides children with an opportunity to practice creative thinking.

C. Storytelling was the way people passed down to the next generation about the great works of God.

D. In many cultures the storyteller is the teacher-the communicator of wisdom and knowledge.

E. It communicates to children that you really care about them. Develops a feeling of trust.

F. Storytelling is an art! If done with enthusiasm and being well prepared (with practice) you will be surprised how little props are needed. When you learn how to activate the imagination of the listener,
you automatically get them involved.

G. The key of storytelling is the ability to enhance creative thinking in children. Because the story, properly presented, is vividly imaged by the listener.


II. Learning a Story

A. It is not necessary to memorize a story word for word (unless it’s a poem or the work of an individual author). Doing so deadens the telling and leaves you no room for adding your own improvements.

1. The process of learning a story

* Read the story over several times.
* Close the book and try to see the sequence of the story in your mind.
* Open and read the story again, this time for the words that will add  color to your telling (i.e. descriptive, concrete words that describe  shape, color, design, etc.).
* Repeat the same process of visualizing the story in your mind.
* Now, write out, draw or outline the story.
* Retell the story in your own words, preferably out loud so you can  hear whether it pleases the ear.
* Try the story on a listener or record it.


III. Telling a Story

A. Teach the students to recognize that telling a story is a special time. Some things you can do to create the right mood:

* have a storytelling spot in the classroom.
* light a candle and blow it out when the time is over.
* sound a small bell or instrument to settle children down.
* simply pause, waiting silently, while the students recognize that the  warm look in your eyes means a story is forthcoming.
* draw an imaginary circle around children and undraw after story ends.

B. Getting Attention

1. Before hand explain to children that the story is in your mind and if get interrupted that you cannot go back a page, therefore, they will have to remind you where you left off.

2. If a distraction occurs, either stop speaking (the silence will bring their attention back) or use a loud noise.

3. Re-evaluate how you are presenting the story.


IV. Common Faults of Storytellers

* Speak too fast
* Speak too slowly
* Speak with too high of a voice
* Lack of eye contact
* Use of distracting gestures and mannerisms
* Being unprepared (shows lack of concern)






I. Type of Bible story to use

A. Understandable by the age group you are teaching.

B. Always tell the story as a Bible story and not as a fairy tale.

C. Keep to the facts as recorded in the Bible
1. some use of imagination is permissible, but not to an extreme.
2. make certain the children understand the story is true.


II. How to present the story

A. Introducing the story

1. tell some interesting facts about the characters or place of events.
2. speak with enthusiasm to make the story appealing to the student.

B. Telling the story

1. never read the story from the teacher’s book.
2. use visuals
a. for younger children use brightly colored visuals and pictures  that are easily understood by the student.
b. for older children more sophisticated visuals may be used to get  and keep their attention.
3. involve the students
a. use hand actions which the children can imitate and remember.
b. ask the older student for his opinion or reaction to a certain  character in the story.
4. use drama
a. use your voice to create certain moods within the story such as  excitement, fear, joy, etc.
b. use movement if the story calls for it – but remember to apply it  to your particular age group.


C. Concluding the story and making the application

1. remember to keep to the facts.
2. explain how we can apply the lesson to our lesson to our lives today  and what we should learn from it.







General Points on Delivery

1. Wholeheartedness

a. Your listeners will be sold according to the degree you are sold.

1) ex. – This is an amazing story! I can hardly wait to start!
2) ex. – The I-don’t-care-attitude gets an I-don’t-care response.

b. If a story is worth telling at all, it is worth telling with all your  heart.

2. Sincerity

a. Sincerity means without veneer, without shellac.
b. Speak with excitement because you are excited, with sadness because  you are sad, with happiness because you are happy.

3. Earnestness

a. This means “to be bowed down with the solemnness of your message.”
b. We are apt to go overboard and dress up our Bible stories until they  are out-of-bounds – we can be flippant with the Word of God.
c. If you are serious and worshipful about the things of God, you can be  happy, you can be humorous, you can be imaginative and you will never  go beyond the realm of good taste.

4. Enthusiasm

a. This rouses children to response. It is the spark-plug that sets off  dormant action.
b. It will get an audience to follow you. It is not a device or a trick.  It is an attitude.
c. Enthusiasm does not necessarily mean a lot of noise.

1) The tones can be low, but they can shoot sparks of enthusiasm into  the air.
2) You can hiss, roar, fight battles, march and shout-all in a whisper,  if the enthusiasm is there.

5. Animation

a. You do not have to stand on your head to be animated. You can stand  or even sit still.
b. Use your eyes, use your facial expressions, use your gestures, use  your whole being in animation.

6. A Broken Heart

a. In serious storytelling, you cannot wring a response to suffering  unless you are acquainted with it yourself.
b. A broken heart does not necessarily mean tragedy. If you have a deep  personal love for God, a worshipful attitude toward Him, an immense  gratitude for what He has done, your delivery will have the same  power to wring a response.

7. Be Yourself

a. It is possible to learn all the techniques and still not be “arty”  about it.

b. If you absorb the techniques until they are a part of you, the result  will be complete naturalness.








I. Preparation

A. Begin your preparation prayerfully and early.
B. Use a variety of presentations for storytelling:

1) Flannelgraph
2) Visuals
3) Play acting
4) Films
5) Puppets
6) Tell the story from the raven’s point of view instead of Elijah’s.

C. Study every day.
D. Know the story, see the story, and feel the story.
E. Project yourself into Biblical times:

1) See the scenes.
2) Walk with the people.
3) Hear their conversations.
4) Understand their customs.
5) Describe them vividly to your listeners.

F. Careful preparation will give you confidence.
G. Gather more material than you will need.
H. Study the story in detail:

1) Background
2) Its characters
3) Sequence of events

I. Practice telling your story —– even in front of a mirror.
J. Tell your story in a relaxed and flowing manner.
K. Lay aside your Teacher’s Manual and look students in the eye and tell
the story in your own words.

II. The Story

A. As you begin your story, let the students know it is from the Bible.
B. Present a “point of interest” to gain their attention. (Be exciting  and enthusiastic!)
C. Use words understood by your age group. (Speak their language.)
D. Define any terms or words on their level.
E. Use a variety of gestures and facial expressions to help keep the  students’ attention.
F. Use voice inflection.
G. Use eye catching visuals.
H. Involve the children in the story.
I. Use personal experience for a child to relate to in his own life.
J. The story should be:

1) Interesting
2) True to life
3) Dramatic
4) Action-packed
5) Short
6) Simple

K. Don’t be afraid to act out part of the story:

1) Leap with the lame man who was healed.
2) Cry out with the beggar.
3) Wash you hands with Pilate.
4) Pull out a hidden knife to slay Isaac.
5) Smash the Ten Commandments with Moses.

L. As the climax of the story is reached, the problem is solved, the  question is answered.
M. The ending should have a practical application for the students’  personal lives.
N. Always include the plan of salvation.

(The above material was prepared by the Faith Apostolic Church of Troy.)







By: Charles Vander Meer



A. Storytelling — the oldest form of communication of ideas

1. Valuable for the very young…because it increases the number of  words a child recognizes.
2. Valuable for the older child, for he finds it easier to understand  advanced material orally than by reading the same material.
3. Valuable in helping children to develop a love for stories…for  great literature…and of course…FOR THE BIBLE.


B. Storytelling — it IS effective.

1. A story in a message is often remembered long after the message is  forgotten.
2. Boys and girls are CAPTIVATED by a story…and this is just what you  want to do…”Capture the Children for Christ!”


C. Storytelling — can be done by anyone who:

1. Has a deep enough desire to win children.
2. Realizes the effectiveness of it:
3. Is willing to WORK at it.
4. Really likes people.





A. Nervousness



B. Your appearance

1. The object is not to draw attention to yourself by being either too  drab, or too garish.
2. Cleanliness is STILL next to Godliness — well almost!


C. Your gestures

1. Natural — let them “be you”…
2. Varied — be careful of becoming a “one-gesture”


D. Your voice

1. We’ve put it last, because believe it or not, it ISN’T as important  as you think
2. You may feel it is “odd”…but”odd” is often remembered! Let your  weakness become a strength.


III. THE STORY (We’ll deal with HOW TO TELL each type later…)

A. Types of stories

1. Bible stories
2. Fiction Stories
3. Biographies of Great People
4. True to life stories


B. Selecting the story

1. It must appeal to YOU…you have to like the story first.
2. It must be the type you can tell — using your own natural, and  developed abilities.


C. Sources for stories — really limited only by your own imagination  and willingness to “dig”

1. The Bible
2. Bible story books
3. Incidents in your own life and those of others
4. Christian magazines
5. The newspaper
6. The public library — often a secular story can be given a spiritual  application!
7. The radio and television



A. Narrative

1. Can be in the THIRD person…talking about someone else.
2. Can be in the SECOND person…putting the person in the audience into  the situation. This is the “Y0U ARE THERE” approach.
3. Can be in the FIRST person…the “I” approach.


B. Dialogue– the most effective, but for some, most difficult.

1. Build some “characters”
2. Practice…and then practice some more


V. Let’s Work on the Introduction to your story.

A. You’ll keep or lose ’em depending upon your introduction. As Ethel  Barrett says, “It should be like the gun that signals the start of a  game or a race…”


B. The purpose of the introduction

1. To capture attention
2. To prepare the audience for the purpose of the story…the reason you  are telling it
3. To review a continued story


C. Let’s try one…



A. The Bible story

1. Read the Bible account–several times, perhaps using several versions  or translations.
2. Look up the cross references suggested.
3. Be sure YOU understand the “hard to understand” word….the  antiquated phrases or ideas.
4. Where applicable, tie in other stories from the Bible, but not too  much so as to confuse.
5. Don’t forget to use your Bible dictionary to “fill-in” meanings and  sketchy material.


B. The fiction story

1. Study any material about which you are not certain
2. Add interesting facts about things mentioned in the story.
3. Tie it in with a Bible story where possible.
4. Be ready to “make up” an ending to the story…


VII. THE APPLICATION — the whole point of telling your story!

A. Remember the “KISS” ….Keep it Short and Simple

It is much better to get one point across well than to give a seven point sermon.


B. The best method for holding attention is to weave the application  through the story, and not to save it all for one big load at the  end.

C. After you’ve made the application STOP!



A. The peppy pre-schoolers — short, sweet, and single (remember the  formula — one minute attention span per year)


B. The perky primaries

1. Begin to appeal to their creative imaginations.
2. Avoid “talking down” or the artificial saccharin sweet tone.


C. Juniors are “gelling”…into adults!

1. Their world has expanded…expand your story to match.
2. An excellent age for working with drama…and for including them in  your story presentations.


D. Junior high youth are quite often the most difficult group to which  to “tell stories.”

1. They hate being thought of as children
2. They represent the widest maturity differential… from the kiddish  7th grade boy to the sophisticated ninth grade girl:



A. ….child interrupts with comments!

1. Maintain the continuity of the story at all costs.
2. Answer the question as quickly as possible and go on.


B. …you want to quiet the group?

1. Remember that some wandering of attention is normal.
2. Remember that a soft voice, especially into a microphone, is more  effective than yelling.


C. Adults interrupt??

1. Try to avoid by previous arrangements.
2. Don’t be afraid to dismiss them quickly and kindly. ,


D. …child has to go to the bathroom — or wants to leave?

1. An assistant can be a great help.
2. Make the rule from the beginning.. “Anyone leaving MUST sit at the  back when coming back in.”



(The original publisher of the above material is unknown.)