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Fall 2007: Why Storytelling?

You are probably reading this newsletter because you are considering either booking a storytelling performance or artist-in-residency at your school. Perhaps you are on the fence as to whether this is a valuable use of school dollars and teacher time, given the demands being made by "No Child Left Behind." With all the choices in front of you, you could not make a wiser move than to expose and/or involve your students in the storytelling process. I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with the tools you need to convince your administrators that an investment in storytelling will probably be one of the best that they will ever make.

In fact, The National Storytelling Network has an exciting new initiative on their plate, that is, to make storytelling to be a mandatory offering in our children's curriculum. Their timing could not be better. There is exciting quantitative and qualitative research to support the attributes of storytelling, not only for the language arts, but across the curriculum. The bottom line is that humans are wired to learn within the context of a narrative, i.e., retention is higher when information is presented within the framework of a story, as opposed to as hard core facts and concepts.

As a storyteller, I have personally seen the transformation that occurs when children's imaginations are ignited and connections are made when they see a storyteller perform. When students are led through the process of becoming storytellers themselves through artist-in-residency programs, even the most challenging student shows remarkable progress in both literacy and presentation skills. In fact, storytelling is truly one field where "NO child is left behind."

Please feel free to write to me at elaine@embodiedvoicestoryarts.com for the bibliography from which these quotes were extracted. I and other storytellers look forward to assisting you in meeting your curriculum needs through the proven attributes of storytelling.

Ragan and Wittenberg-Lyles "The very nature of story makes it a prime instrument for learning."

O'Neill "Time spent on early storytelling skill development in preschool years improves math skill upon entering school."

Clandinin & Connelly "Narrative (story) structure is common to all fields of study because it is an essential aspect of the human mind as are how to interpret information and to make meaning."

Tannen "Images (created by details), my research suggests,  are more convincing and more memorable than either fact or abstract propositions."

Coles "Stories enhanced recall, retention, application of concepts into new situations, understanding, learner enthusiasm for the subject matter". "Stories enhanced and accelerated virtually every measurable aspect of learning".

Egan "Young children understand abstract concepts when placed in binary opposition and in the context of stories, but not in logic argument, or rote memorization."

Cliatt & Shaw "The relationship of storytelling and successful children's literacy development is well established."  "...this process (storytelling) enhanced children's development of language and logic skills."

Mello (2001) "Each study documented that storytelling enhanced literacy." "Storytelling was an effective learning tool that linked literature to content and experience."