For the Story Teller: Chapter 13 - Planning Story Groups  by@carolynsherwin

For the Story Teller: Chapter 13 - Planning Story Groups

THE children who hear one story well told eagerly demand,
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Carolyn Sherwin

For the Story Teller: Story Telling and Stories to Tell

For the Story Teller: Story Telling and Stories to Tell, by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey is part of HackerNoon Books Series . You can jump to any chapter in this book here. Chapter XIII: PLANNING STORY GROUPS

THE children who hear one story well told eagerly demand,

“Tell us another!”

It is the natural, to-be-desired longing of the child mind to be satiated with good stories. We endeavor to meet the children’s wish for a number of stories in each story hour but we often hurt the mental and moral effect of one story by telling in close connection another story that has no interest connection with the last one told. We lead the child from one story interest to another with slight attention to the influence which the story group will have upon the minds of the children. We tell, perhaps, a home story, then a nature story, and last of all a holiday story in one story hour, and in doing this we so quickly transfer the child’s attention from one theme to a distinctly different one that there is no cohesion in our story building. We break down instead of building up the powers of concentration of our children.

Planning a group of stories for one story hour is quite as much a matter to be studied as is the selection of each individual story in the group and preparing this story for telling. The story combination selected by the story teller must have the qualities of cohesion, unity of theme, and related interests to make the story hour valuable in the child’s life. On the other hand, the unity of theme in the separate stories chosen must be emphasized by contrasting story treatment of this central theme. A group of stories in which each story is just like its predecessor and similar to the story that follows will tire the child listeners. We must bring about cohesion in the story hour by means of contrast in the treatment of each story.

Our first thought in planning story groups will be:

Select the story theme for the story hour.

This story theme will be some idea which we want to bring forcefully to the minds of our children. The story hour motif may be: animals, the home, trades, birds, flowers, heroes, a holiday or some ethical theme as: honesty, truth or charity, but each of the stories selected for the story group will have an animal, home, trade, bird, flower, hero, holiday, honesty, truth or charity theme.

Our second thought in planning story groups will be:

Select stories which present the selected theme in contrasting treatment.

Three stories form an excellent number for one story hour. Each of these stories will illustrate one central idea that a continuing thread of interest may be carried through the story group and knotted at the end of the story hour. But each story will make a different mental appeal in presenting the theme that the children may have the benefit of contrast in helping them to concentrate upon listening to all the stories that make up the group.

The first of these three stories should be selected having in mind the securing of the involuntary attention of the children. It should be an apperceptive story that finds quick interpretation in the minds of the children because its ideas are their ideas, its scenes are familiar to theirs and its characters are people like the people whom they meet and know in their every-day environment. Having caught the children’s attention involuntarily by a story that finds a place by its familiarity of treatment in their own lives, the second story in the group may make a different mental appeal. It may make the children reason; it may take them far afield in their thinking, it may be the longest story in the group and so call for greater concentration on the part of the story teller.

The last story in the story group will be selected for mental relaxation after the tense attention demanded for the second story. It may be a humorous story, a very short story, or one so contrasted in treatment to the other stories in the group that it gives rest because of its difference.

To illustrate with one typical story group will be helpful.

We wish to make the thought of industry the central thought for a story hour. The first story in the story group might be “The Sailor Man” by Laura E. Richards. This story catches and holds the children’s attention at once because its characters are familiar to them; its setting is one that they can quickly see in their imagination. They have much in common with the two children who go to visit the sailor man; they know sailors; they have been to the seashore; they have enjoyed boat rides. And the climax of the story is a lesson in industry. The child who most industriously ties knots in the sailor’s fish nets wins the reward.

The second story in the group, “The Stone in the Road,” makes the children think more forcefully than did the first one. It takes them farther afield and makes them see in imagination, wealth, a castle, gold, poverty. They are obliged to reason in interpreting the rich man’s motive in hiding his gold. The story makes the children use their dawning power of judging.

The last story selected for this special story group is, “Drakesbill,” a humorous folk tale. The hero, an industrious duck who has worked hard all his life to accumulate a competence upon which he may live in his old age, loans a large sum of money to the king. The king being slow in paying back the money, Drakesbill goes to the palace to collect his debt. His adventures on the way and the successful end of his journey form the interest of the story. This story makes a fine climax to the story group. While it still emphasizes the central thought of the story program, industry, it treats it in a different way from that in which the previous stories illuminate the theme. Its fantasy, its humor make it a relaxation for the children.

If story groups are arranged having in mind these two considerations: a central theme and contrast in the treatment of this theme the story hour will be a vital force for good in the development of the children’s mental and moral life.

For the benefit of the story teller who has slight time for the consulting of many books of stories which such a planning of story groups entails, some illustrative story programs follow, each of which has been arranged with reference to one child-interest theme carried through three different types of stories.


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Bailey, Carolyn Sherwin. 2018. For the Story Teller: Story Telling and Stories to Tell. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved April 2022 from

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at, located at

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