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Selecting and Using Folktales for Children

A resource for educators, librarians, and storytellers. By Jon Stevens, under the direction of Christina Jones, Education Librarian, Indiana University

Folktales are stories that have been passed down over generations by word of mouth. These stories have stood the test of time because of their universal themes, distinct cultural representations, and entertainment value. Many educators and librarians have continued this oral tradition by developing storytelling programs for children. This LibGuide is intended to help the next generation of storytellers begin their journey.

Your job as a storyteller is to:

  1. Select quality folktales that will appeal to your audience
  2. Craft your selected folktales to make them meaningful
  3. Tell the folktale in your unique voice

Each part of the storyteller's job requires practice and guidance. The navigation bar on the left will help guide you through this process. Additionally, there is a booklist that features renowned and noteworthy storytellers. 

"The White Duck" by Ivan Bilibin

Illustration by Ivan Bilibin, from the Russian folk tale "The White Duck"

"Just jump in. Storytelling is like swimming. You can't do it by sitting on the bank.

You have to jump in and start dog paddling." 

--Margaret Read MacDonald, The Storyteller's Guide