Creating Stories with Children
Andrew Wright (OUP)
Review written by Liz Jones
Storytelling has been a fashionable
idea for an effective & enjoyable way of teaching children
for a number of years now & Andrew Wright's 'Storytelling
with Children', (1995) & the sequel 'Creating Stories
with Children' (1997 ) (both published by OUP) are packed
with stories & lesson plans to delight the younger learner.
'Storytelling with Children'
really is a step-by-step guide to effective storytelling for
both the native & non-native English teacher. Andrew begins
by telling us how to select, tell & read stories aloud
- not as easy as you might first think! Then he goes on to
examine the storyteller's manner & voice, & how to
deal with interruptions & children reading aloud.
This is then followed by 'A
store of 94 activities' to do before, during or after telling
a story. Within this there are activities such as a quick
game of pictionary to illustrate the meaning of key vocabulary
before the telling or giving a child a word card before &
ask them to jump up & sit down every time they hear the
word during the story. 'Stepping Stone Pictures' gets children
walking from picture to picture, telling the story as they
move. Unfortunately there is no index of these activities
- they are thrown together in this section. There are heading
as you look through but some preliminary reference would be
useful, to help find them again.
The following section, 'Stories
& lesson plans' is organised according to level &
age. I particularly liked 'Mr Page's Pet Shop' which I have
used with children as young as two to great success. The children
love to mime the animals & make the noises. There are
well know stories such as 'Goldilocks' & Andrew's guides
on how to tell them help enormously.
In the section on 'Topics &
stories' we are given ideas on combining these areas using
the 'story as a door to all kinds of other experiences'. Andrew
chooses three topic areas; 'Mice', 'The Home', & 'Town
We go on to using stories as
the focus for language presentation in the 'Grammar &
stories section'. As stories can be repeated again & again,
so too can the language point & as the younger learner
does not analyse language but learns new items as lexical
chunks, stories are an ideal vehicle. In 'Houses into bricks;
bricks into houses' you choose grammatical groupings you would
like the children to become aware of, select a story &
pick out 5 to 10 sentences. You then write a sentence on the
board, & put the words in the correct bag you've drawn
e.g. proper nouns. The children then proceed to do the same
with subsequent sentences. They can then go on to write a
new story using some of the words in the bags.
And if this were not enough,
at the end of the book there are even 'More stories &
ideas' , tips on how to draw people, places & things.
'Creating Stories with Children'
is a sequel to the above book & takes children that step
further from being told stories to creating their own. The
activities are aimed at children between the ages of 4 &
14, & though some are appropriate for beginners, most
are for elementary & above.
The sections comprise of 'Story
warmers' (within which there are exercises for relaxation,
trust, mime & acting & language), 'The craft of story-making',
'Retelling', 'Beginnings & endings', 'Filling in &
out', 'Sorting & sequencing', 'Starting with one thing'
& lastly 'Making books'.
As Alan Maley says in his introduction,
'the book is based on a passionate belief in the creative
capacity of children provided they are given encouragement
& appropriate guidance.' This comes through in the
sensible & imaginative approach to the activities &
Both books are very clearly
laid out & now come in A4 size, which makes using them
much easier. The pictures clarify activities & attached
to the level, language, time, materials & procedure are
variations of the activity.
All in all, these two books
provide more than enough material to make storytelling a fun,
stimulating, successful & essential part of your younger
Andrew's article on Storytelling
an interview with Andrew
the book review index
the Books Page