Tales as Tools

Tales as Tools: The Power of Story in the Classroom. The National Storytelling Association. Jonesborough, TN: National Storytelling Press, 1994. ISBN 1-879991-15-2. $19.95 213 p.

Storyteller Sheila Dailey was the project director for the NSA' s Tales as Tools: a collection of articles, book excerpts and essays on the power of story in the classroom.

The storytellers, teachers, educational consultants, and others who contributed to the book highlight the areas in which storytelling is currently being used to best advantage in the schools. These areas are identified in the preface as being in the teaching of subjects across the curriculum; in multicultural education and creation of community; in improving students' emotional health; and in enhancing students' grasp of social and environmental responsibilities.

The first chapter focuses on teachers as storytellers. Its seven articles make a strong case for the use of storytelling and offer practical tips on getting started. Four chapters deal with storytelling and language arts, including reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language development.

One chapter is devoted to using stories to teach history, and another to stories in math and science. The remaining chapters deal with peace and the environment, healing, classroom community and multiculturalism, and taking stories outside of the classroom (through festivals, workshops, family events).

A bibliography of stories to be told to, and by, different age children is only one of the sections in the llseful "Books for Storytellers’ chapter.

Some of the articles are only one or two pages; some, like Tim Myers' article on war and language are five or six pages long. The use of sidebars and inserts allows for mini articles to be placed in appropriate proximity to related essays. Where do the articles come from?

Apart from those written specifically for the book, they come from familiar storytelling periodicals and books, and range rom 1994 back to 1910.

Each chapter has a brief introduction by Dailey which sets he context for what is to follow, and each article is preceded by a two or three sentence annotation. The beauty of this collection is the variety of voices discussing a wide range of ideas and approaches. You will find theory and practical application, inspiration and guidance. This is a book to dip into again and again.

Second Story Review, Vol 2, No 1 - Mar 1997

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