Children’s Book of the Week: Twenty Tellable Tales

Twenty Tellable Tales: Audience Participation Folktales for the Beginning Storyteller by Margaret Read MacDonald, Illustrated by Roxane Murphy

Henry went to farm camp last week. Every day, on the car ride home, he would retell a different fascinating and compelling story that he’d heard. Finally, after three days of this, I said, “Where are you getting these? Are these all different books, or are all these stories in one book?” One book! And it’s this one.

This book is for grownups, kind of. It’s for storytellers, mostly for people like school librarians and teachers (and farm camp counselors) who have opportunities to hold a group of kids’ attention with a good tale. There are, as you’d guess from the title, twenty stories, all pretty short. Each story is followed with a little section called “notes on telling” which would be handy if you are a teacher, or a librarian, or a farm camp counselor, or anyone who will actually be telling this story to children. There are even some notes on the origin of the story, which is nice if you want to go a little deeper in the educational aspect of the whole thing.

But a “tellable tale” is also a “read-out-loudable tale” and these are great great great stories to read out loud. They are from all over the world, and all have a fable or tall tale quality to them, and many are pretty funny. Some are a little scary, but Henry is a total scaredy-cat when it comes to stories, and he liked the scary ones too.

A “tellable tale” is also an “easily memorizable tale.” That means that, after reading these stories, you will have a few good stories in your back pocket to pull out if you’re waiting for food in a slow restaurant. It also means that your Henry-aged kid will be able to tell the stories to his younger siblings, which makes all of them really happy, and keeps them occupied, and might be the best part of all.

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