Storytelling quotations

Storytelling and wisdom

These quotations are culled from a recent Storytell thread concerning storytelling and wisdom.
Thank you to all who contributed.

  • Storytelling is not opening your mouth.  It is opening your heart and mind.
    (Alicia Dongjoo Bang, Director of the Korea International Storytelling Festival)
  • What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.
    (G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles, 1909)
  • A story is safe place to confront fears and experience thrills.
    (J.B. Rowley’s contribution to a discussion on whether fairytales should be sanitized for young listeners.)
  • Folktales are the right shape to fit into the mind, and be remembered.
    (Tim Sheppard)
  • The folk tale is the primer of the picture-language of the soul.
    (Joseph Campbell)
  • Folk tales are ageless. Rooted in antiquity, reborn with each new telling, they address that part of us which does not change as we move through our lives. Adults feel youthful, children feel grown-up. We listen, time changes, and we become ageless too.
    (Tim Jennings, from his cassette Weatherbeard and Other Folk Stories)
  • [About children listening to adult stories:] Most of life is over the heads of little kids. Looking up at it is how they grow.
    (Tim Jennings)
  • If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.
    (Barry Lopez, as Badger in Crow and Weasel)
  • The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.
    (Harold Goddard, The Meaning of Shakespeare)
  • We need more front porch storytelling… because every time an old person dies, it’s like a library burned down.
    (Amadou Hampate Ba, a griot from the Mandingo people of West Africa)
  • It is the duty of the present to convey the voices of the past to the ears of the future.
    (a Norwegian saying)
  • Some people think we’re made of flesh and blood and bones.
    Scientists say we’re made of atoms.
    But I think we’re made of stories.
    When we die, that’s what people remember,
    The stories of our lives and the stories we told.
    (Ruth Stotter)
  • To be Human is to be a storyteller.
    A computer can tell us how many words are in a story, correct some spelling errors, and execute other mechanical tasks–but it doesn’t have a clue to what the story is about.
    Conversely, although children will miscount the words and miss many spelling errors, they can easily tell us the gist of the story–and even imaginatively recount the story in their own words.
    (Barbara K. Walker, The Art of the Turkish Tale)
  • Excellence in storytelling is when the storyteller disappears and the story remains.
    (Charles Kiernan, posted on Storytell)
  • A folktale is the poetic text that carries some of its cultural contexts within it; it is also a traveling metaphor that finds a new meaning with every telling.
    (A.K. Ramanujan)
  • “The fairy tale has no landlord” is a common expression in Greece. Each storyteller can tell it in his own way, so long as he faithfully retains the basic structure, and thus, the essential details with their deeper meaning not easily comprehended by reason.
    Once Upon a Time: On the nature of fairy tales p. 63, Max Lüthi (1970)
  • There are two rules to storytelling:
    Rule no. 1: There are no rules to storytelling – except rule no. 2.
    Rule no. 2: Don’t read.
    (Richard Martin, it jumped into my mind in a workshop)
German-Swiss School, Hong Kong

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For those who are teachers: Telling stories in the classroom: basing language teaching on storytelling