"Storytelling"

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Storytelling

PHYLLIS POTTISH-LEWIS

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION

“Storytelling” was delivered at the AMI International Congress in Washington, D.C. in July 1994.

Published by Montessori360, LLC with written permission from Phyllis Pottish-Lewis.

1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION

Storytelling

Introduction Petroglyphs in the American southwest, inscriptions on Egyptian mummy sarcophagi, Assyrian stone relief depicting methods of food preparation, and ancient monumental architecture in many areas of the world all testify to the human desire to communicate something of who we are to subsequent generations. The human instinct to acquire, preserve, and transmit knowledge about our past seems to be equally compelling. Why this is so remains something of an enigma, but it must certainly be related to the learning process, which enables us to understand and express more completely our humanity. Because of our early learning experience, many of us sense, if only intuitively, that knowledge is crucial to our existence, that we become fully human as we learn from those who have lived before us, and that we are most completely part of the human odyssey as we pass information on to those who follow us. 1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION That vast body of knowledge passed from one generation to the next is composed of all the learning that has been accrued in both the physical and spiritual domains. The knowledge that came from discoveries that allowed human beings simply to sustain life is the physical territory. The knowledge that was derived from people's expressing the inner essence of their spiritual sides through art, music, storytelling, dance, and the like is the spiritual territory. These two territories became the properties of all society, and eventually of the nations of people, and ultimately, as time went on, the story of humankind was written through the ages. When the very first child was born on earth, that child entered into the heritage of the prepared environment of the universe, into the material and spiritual territory of his parents and people. He entered as the first unit of his small society, his family, and accordingly became the recipient of the heritage of all that had gone on before. It is this same heritage that awaited his exploration, and which permitted him, in his turn to be a vector of tradition, by transmitting to subsequent generations the legacy bestowed on him. Human beings, for at least the past several thousand years, have had an intense interest in who their ancestors were and what they did. Epic histories and essential knowledge were memorized by members of many communities who, having been taught the origins and traditions of that society, then passed this information to the next generation - often with remarkable accuracy. Thus, before the advent of writing, the medium of transmission of history and tradition was simply the spoken word. These people who performed this task, were our earliest storytellers.

1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION

What is storytelling: Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of folk art. We can imagine that "Tell me a story" has been a request of children and adults since people started to communicate with one another. Simply recounting an occurrence in one's daily life during the course of ordinary conversation amounts to storytelling. Storytelling, which is older than history, is prehistoric, and it is not limited by one civilization, by one continent, by one race, or by one time. Stories differ from place to place, just as the purposes and conditions of storytelling change as one moves from century to century; and yet, in all the different lands and periods of time, storytelling has filled the same basic individual and social needs. Curiosity about the past, interest in traditions, the search for an understanding of beginnings, the need for entertainment, and the desire to keep alive a great heroic past, established the early storyteller as bringer of news, historian, disperser of culture, upholder of religion and morals, as well as entertainer. The fodder, of which these stories are comprised, has become what is known as "folklore". The telling of a story or folklore is a verbal art. It is an artistic expression whose medium is the spoken word. It is the story that is told whether that story is about the sun that appears every day in the sky each day or how to best angle your rock to execute the desired break. Folklore is comprised of the traditional creations of peoples, both primitive and civilized, and is achieved by using sounds and words in metric form and prose. It includes, also, folk beliefs or superstitions, customs and performances, dances and plays. Moreover, folklore is not a science about a folk, but the traditional folk- science and folk-poetry: • whenever a lullaby is sung to a child, • whenever a riddle or a counting-out rhyme is used in the nursery, • whenever proverbs, fables, folktales, reminiscences of the fireside are retold, • whenever a mother shows her child how to sew, knit, spin, weave, embroider, and bake an old-fashioned pie, • whenever a farmer on the ancestral plot trains his children in the ways long familiar or shows them how to read the moon and the winds to forecast the weather at sowing or harvest time, • whenever a village craftsman, a shoemaker or a carpenter, trains his apprentice in the use of tools, shows him how to shoe a horse or make a shovel, • whenever in many callings the knowledge, experience, wisdom, skill, the habits and practices of the past are handed down by example or spoken word, by the older to the new generations, without reference to book or print, then we have folklore in its own perennial domain, at work as ever, alive and shifting, always apt to grasp and assimilate new elements on its way. It is old-fashioned, even ancient, and it is fast receding from its former strongholds under the impact of modern progress and industry. 1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION

History of Storytelling The history of storytelling proves an interesting tale in itself, as its evolution through the millennia permits us a glimpse into matters and considerations of importance to peoples not unlike ourselves, but remote in time and place. From earliest times, humankind has sought to explain the mystery of the dawn of time and human origins. This they did through myth and legend. These stories are known today as "origin stories". And they specify and depict how humans and their environment and the creatures in that environment came to be. As people sought to explain the wonders of the invisible world, they created myths to explain natural occurrences. Originally, these explanations probably consisted of simple chants that praised the dawn or the stars or expressed the joy of being alive. Just as people do today, early people probably sang other chants to accompany some tasks, such as grinding corn or sharpening tools or weapons. Eventually, as the stories were embellished with interesting motifs, superhuman qualities were assigned to ordinary people, thus originating the hero tale, which were legends of doubtful exploits of historical personages and "untrustworthy traditions of doubtful events". Familiar examples of these are Oedipus, Theseus, Moses, and King Arthur. Other topics worthy of transmission to subsequent generations, and thus possibly their commission to eternity, consisted of the customs and beliefs attending the "periods of emotional stress in the life of an individual in relation to the group", things such as births, comings of age, graduation, marriages, burials. These are all transitions that even today, the educated and the sophisticated share with the uneducated and the naive. Other topics equally deserving of transmission, though seemingly lesser in importance, are the remedies for illnesses and wounds, the discoveries in agriculture, revelations regarding the trades and professions, and developments with religious life and holy days. Interestingly, there is an obviously strong feminine element in folklore, which is why some of it is termed "old wives’ tales”. This point of view has been adopted by a few, because it is believed that it has been primarily the women who have been the savers and conservators of beliefs, rites, “… obviously strong superstitions, rituals, and customs. Perhaps it was over the quiet and subdued tasks, customarily attributed to women, feminine element in such as weaving, sewing, grinding acorns that these folklore, which is why traditional stories were passed. It is also thought by some some of it is termed folklorists that this feminine element exists because folklore is rooted in the instinct and intuition, areas that are “old wives’ tales.” characteristically attributed to women rather than to men. Early storytelling combined stories, poetry, music, and dance. Many people told stories, but the best storyteller was chosen to be the entertainer for the community. This person also became the historian for the group, marking the beginning of professional storytelling. In 1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION Ireland, the professional storyteller was called shanachie, and to this very day is called that in western Ireland. Her job of the present day preserves and embellishes this traditional lore. This is a position of importance, and thus one in which the storyteller takes pride. She is considered an artist and enjoys a prominent social position of prestige. In Africa, there was the "resident storyteller" and the "traveling storyteller". The former was part of a great leader's household and had only the responsibility of keeping alive the exploits of this leader. The "traveling storyteller", however, went from village to village with tales, anecdotes, and fables, and became the collector of an oral, narrative tradition. The time between 400 CE to 1500 CE saw the flowering of the storyteller's art. Storytellers were welcome in royal courts as well as in marketplaces. Traveling storytellers journeyed from land to land, gathering news and learning the favorite stories of various regions. Storytellers exchanged stories so often that it became difficult to trace the origin of many of their tales. These storytellers of the Middle Ages underwent thorough training in order to perform in accordance with the demands of the people and the standard of the art. The troubadour, a medieval poet-musician, was expected to know perfectly all the current tales, to repeat all the noteworthy theses from the universities, to be well informed on court scandal, to know the healing power of herbs and simples (medicines), to be able to compose verses to a lord or lady at a moment's notice, and to play on at least two of the instruments then in favor at court. Anglo-Saxon "gleemen" and, later, Norman minstrels sang their stories. They traveled all over England and the Continent learning new tales and passing them on in song, dance, and story. These minstrels were found in many countries: In Germany, there were the minnesingers, members of the music and poetry guilds; in Ireland, the ollams, known as master storytellers, and of course, the shanachies, who told their stories by the great peat fires. In ancient Tibet, the storytellers, Bonpos, were called "protectors of the kingdom" because they prepared the path for higher learning. Important as these early poets, troubadours, wandering minstrels, and storytellers were, they have not been solely responsible for keeping alive the hundreds of old tales and traditions that we enjoy today. Parents, grandparents, housekeepers, and nannies have always told stories to amuse children and others. Rare was the family that did not have some member to tell stories repeatedly around the fireplace or when the children were tucked snuggly into bed. It was after the invention of movable type about 1440 that reading replaced listening, and the influence of the professional storyteller faded. Oral storytelling, as it had been in its heyday, failed to survive. However, storytelling as a whole did not die out. It survived in rural areas where there was little access to books and literature. But it is well to keep in mind that in a purely oral culture everything is folklore. In modern society what distinguishes folklore from the rest of culture is the preponderance of the handed-down over the learned element, and the predominance that the popular imagination derives from and gives to custom and tradition. 1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION The transference of oral tradition to writing and print does not destroy its validity as folklore, but rather, while freezing or fixing its form, helps to keep it alive and to diffuse it among those to whom it is not native or fundamental. In fact, there came a time of growing scholarly interest in folk literature. In 1812 and 1815 the brothers Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm published collections of German tales that became probably the best-known works of their kind. The brothers gathered their stories from the common people, and faithfully preserved the unique structure and language pattern of the tales. They weren't the only ones who saw the value in collecting folktales and folklore. They are joined by a long list of luminaries who have undertaken the same task as they, such people as Hans Christian Anderson, Andrew Lang, and Charles Perrault. However, it was not until the 1900s that there came a resurgence of storytelling itself. This revival was helped by Marie Shedlock, a retired English schoolteacher, who emphasized the importance of storytelling as a natural way to introduce literature to children. As a consequence of her work and efforts, along with that of others, today there are professional storytellers who tour the United States and Canada similarly to storytellers who toured around Europe during the Middle Ages. Also, there are people who collect together to discuss, examine and investigate the beneficial aspects of storytelling in present day life.

Purpose and Benefits of Storytelling Since the art of telling a story is a time-honored expression of the essence of humankind it should be worth examining in detail how this has come to be. Why tell stories? What are we trying to do with this thing called storytelling? Lewis Carroll once called stories "love gifts". It was an apt description, for telling a story is, indeed, giving a gift. Storytelling brings to the listeners heightened awareness-a sense of wonder, a sense of mystery, a reverence for life. It is through the stories themselves, and through the interaction between teller and listener, that storytelling goes beyond the surface child to speak to the inner child. It is for this reason alone that storytellers need not rely on gimmicks such as flannel boards and costumes. These accouterments merely entertain the child, rather than touching the inner essence that resides within him. In true storytelling one only is concerned with touching the inner child, with nurturing the spirit-self, with enriching and deepening a child's feelings, with appealing to his sentiments, and not with entertaining the child. This nurturing of the spirit-self comes first. It is the primary purpose of storytelling, and all other uses and effects are secondary. Story telling is also a sharing experience. Enjoying a story together creates a common experience. Storytelling, properly done, produces a relaxed, restful feeling. It establishes a happy relationship between teller and listener, drawing people closer to one another, adult to child, child to child. This rapport carries over into other areas as well, for children tend to have confidence in the person who cares enough to tell his stories. 1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION John Harrell wrote in his book, To Tell of Gideon. Because of who he is and the function he plays in delineating a culture and reinvigorating its roots by repeating its lore, the storyteller is a special person to all his hearers. He shares secrets with them and common experiences that make people feel close to him. At times, the storyteller today becomes so aware of his special position in the lives of his hearers that he indeed feels his kinship with the shaman. Storytelling is more direct than reading. There is no book to serve as a wall between you and your audience. You can give the story plus you are free to express your own enjoyment of it unhampered by having to follow precise words on a page. You are free to modify facial expressions, make occasional gestures and voice inflections, all in response to the audience, just as you do when you regale your family or friends with an account of some exciting experience you have had. The younger the children, the more they need this intimate approach to literature,because words are still difficult symbols for them. When you are free of the book, you can observe their confusions and insert the clarifying parenthetical phrase as necessary: "Then the princess, the king's little girl,". Even with ten-year-olds, when you mention “a well of scythes" and see their bewildered expressions, you can interpolate “a well whose wells were lined with sharp knives or scythes", or when you observe a child's unflattering yawn, you can take your narrative to a livelier tempo or style. There is another element that contributes to the value of storytelling. Through listening children develop their powers of aural comprehension. The ability to hear, comprehend, and react intelligently to the spoken word is of great importance. Children should have continuous practice in hearing poetry recited and stories told so that their vocabularies will grow as well as their abilities to comprehend the meaning of the spoken word. Moreover, a word that has been heard and understood is more easily recognized when a child encounters it in print. Telling the children stories encourages the art of listening. Children are able to experience the whole of a piece of literature, uninterrupted by questions or discussion. By experiencing the whole they learn to follow events in sequence, an important prerequisite of reading comprehension. 1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION Listening to stories also prepares children for reading on their own. If the stories they have heard have piqued their interest, the children then become eager to learn the key that will unlock the symbols to more and more stories, and more and more information. If a child has heard "The Ransom of Red Chief" and knows that it is to be found in books, as well as other stories like them, then he is encouraged to read and is ready for the effort that will have to be made. If he hears the story of the "Coming of Life", and wants to find out more about those trilobites, his interest motivates his attempts at reading. When the child's reading vocabulary is small, his reading materials are limited. A well-told story may be the very thing to bridge the gap between the child’s ability and the motivation he needs to learn to read. Since storytelling is an oral art, which is a listening/language experience, it should not be lost. Because of the emphasis on the visual, our eye-minded society has forgotten the power of the spoken word, relying to a great extent on written language. But in storytelling the full range of language is possible. Aidan Chalmers writes, As children listen to stories, verse, prose of all kinds, they unconsciously become familiar with the rhythms and structure, the cadences and conventions of the various forms of written language. They are learning how print "sounds," how to"hear" it in their inner ear. Only through listening to words in print being spoken does anyone discover their colour, their life, their movement and drama.1 Unconsciously, children's ears are becoming accustomed to the tune and cadence of good language, such language, as they may not hear on the streets or perhaps not even in their own homes. And they hear and enjoy types of literature they might never read for themselves. Tastes are broadened, and enjoyment is raised to a higher level, if literature is taught by the sheer contagion of shared pleasure. Storytelling at its best is mutual creation. Children listen, and out of the words they hear, they create their own mental images. This opening of the mind's eye develops their imagination. Hearing stories told gives children practice in visualization. As children listen, they create the scenes, the action, the characters. The ability to visualize that, which is not tangible, is the basis of creative imagination.

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Introducing Books to Children, 33-34. 1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION As we have learned from the generations before us, storytelling is a way of keeping alive the cultural heritage of a people. It is akin to the folk dance and the folksong in preserving the traditions of a country for the foreign-born child, as well as for building appreciation of another culture for the native-born child. Ann Nolan Clark in her book Journey to the People, wrote: Children need to know of other nationalities and races so that, inheriting an adult world, they find a free and joyous interchange of acceptance and respect among all peoples. There is need for awareness that each group of people has its own special traditions and customs. There is need that respectful recognition be given these special traditions and customs. There is need for acceptance of these differences. There is tragic need for loving communion between children and children, children and adults, adults and adults - between group and group. Ironically, folklore, which can foster an appreciation of other races and people, itself is living proof of the kinship of human beings and the oneness of peoples. Among various nations, similar stories are found, but they assume a variety of forms according to the culture in which they have developed. Paul Bunyan is related to Ti-Jean, the protagonist that was brought to America over 300 years ago by the French colonists. These tales quickly became the property of the French-Canadians, and now they are part of the spoken tradition of that country. Cinderella tales have been found nearly everywhere in the world from Alaska toSouth Africa, from Europe to Indonesia and South America. There are more than 500 versions of the tale in Europe alone. Its place of origin is unknown, but probably originally it is an Oriental story. The familiar motifs that define the story are that of the ash-girl, who with the help of an animal or her dead mother, appears at the dance to win the heart of the prince. A ring or a slipper establishes her true identity, and she prospers when she marries the prince and lives happily ever after. In Germany she is called Aschenputtel, in France she is Cendrillon, in Italy she is Cenerentola.

1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION

When to Tell Stories and Which Stories to Tell to Children After some consideration and examination of storytelling, the reasons behind its survival from the earliest days of humankind to present day, as well as an examination of the value inherent in telling stories, it is perhaps time for us as parents and teachers to consider when to tell the children stories. The simple answer is to begin at crib-side and to continue to the fireside throughout life. The more complex side of the issue is a consideration of which stories to tell. In this important regard Dr. Maria Montessori's principles have provided us guidelines to help direct our choices. The advice given by Dr. Montessori holds true whether the stories are told in the classroom or at home, whether told by parent or teacher, since the child's essence does not change when the boundaries of his environment do. The Toddler For the tiny child, one of its most amazing and greatest tasks in life is to develop his own language, and that can only be done by his first hearing it. The language that he will learn will not be a random one but will be the language he hears within his immediate family. He learns it from first listening again and again to each member of this family as they form words with their mouths to make the sounds that comprise their language. Then the child in his turn makes an effort to reproduce the sounds that he has heard over and over again uttered by the people around him. What better way to provide the child with the sounds and language that he yearns to hear for his own construction than by telling him stories? Since stories are a listening language experience it is an opportune time for the tiny child to absorb the tune and cadence of good language. Before the child comprehends the meaning of the words it matters not what the content of the stories is, so long as the words themselves are enunciated clearly and euphonically. However, once the child begins to understand the meaning of the words to which he has been listening, it is important to choose the stories very carefully. Select stories with simple plots, dialogue and imagery, and ones that are about real events and real things. These can be tales about the folk who live in the child's country or outside their country. The stories should be sparse but filled with humor and spirit. Repetition, within the story, is essential. Remember that to children each repeated phrase is a discovery and a predictability that they enjoy and anticipate.

1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION The Child from 3 to 6 In assessing the kinds of stories to tell children in the first plane of development, from 0 to 3 and 3 years to 6, one must remember exactly how much experience the child has had. Has he yet reached the point where he can determine for himself what is real and what is not real, because that is one of his primary tasks: to create an order for all of the impressions that he has taken in with the help of his senses. In the first years of his life the child has the incredible task of building up an orderly scheme of things; a world truly related in all of its parts. It is useful to know that even at three the most common of sights and sounds are to him full of mystery and wonder. Small children have therefore no need of "tales of mystery and the imagination" G.K. Chesterton very wisely offers, "When we are very young, we do not need fairy tales, we need only tales. Mere life is interesting enough. Older children like romantic tales, but younger children like realistic tales because they find them romantic." 2 At this first plane of his existence, the child has much to do in just trying to make heads or tails of his world without having it made still more difficult for him by our arbitrary introduction of fairies, witches, dragons and goblins, creatures that do not even exist. We must remember that at this stage the child will accept all these things as objective realities, and will, as G.K. Chesteron puts it, "just as readily believe there is a dragon round the corner as a dragoon." This means that if we tell him about such things before, he is ready, he will enter a period of confusion, not to say disillusionment. He will be obliged to waste part of his mental energies in sorting out "fay" from "fact" - energies that are needed early in life for more constructive purposes. The Elementary Child It is when the child moves into the second plane of childhood around the age of six years old that the powers of the imagination begin to develop fully. The older child no longer depends upon his senses to explore his environment, but he uses his imagination, which is aided by his reason. Since the imagination is now operative, the child has the ability to distinguish between fact and fantasy. This imagination has a basis that has been provided by the sensory education of the world the child has acquired in the primary class during the first plane of development. This sensory education provided the child with an accurate perception of the details of real things and their real qualities. Once the child is provisioned with this foundation of facts, he can collect from the external world the material he needs for the imagination. Dr. Montessori said in Keys to the Universe, The best way we can help the child to develop his imagination, then, is to put him in relation with an environment so prepared that he can lay up a store of accurate images by means of his spontaneous observation of it. ________________________ 2

E. M. Standing, Maria Montessori: her Life and Works, p. 335. 1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION Dr. Montessori recognized the onset of the elementary child's imagination as a critical tool to be used in his development and self-construction. She believed in order to be of service to the child a teacher must recognize and utilize that power of the imagination. She said, The secret of good teaching is to regard the child's intelligence as a fertile field in which the seeds may be sown to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Ouraim, therefore, is not merely to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his endless core.3 Because the elementary child is possessed of such a powerful instrument to assist his development, it was Dr. Montessori's design to give the elementary child, as she puts it, "a vision of the whole universe, which is an imposing reality, and an answer to all questions." She believed that this child, with his functioning imagination aided by his reasoning abilities, was able to explore and comprehend what she called a global vision of cosmic events. This she called "Cosmic Education". Through this kind of expansive vision, she believed that the child would eventually come to comprehend the oneness of the universe and discover his own unique place within it. She believed "that the child will develop a kind of philosophy which teaches him the unity of the universe." She continually impresses upon us the gravity of our task when she says, If the idea of the universe is presented to the child in the right way, it will do more for him than just arouse his interest, for it will create in him admiration and wonder, a feeling loftier than any interest and more satisfying.3 ________________________ 3

To Educate the Human Potential, p. 15.

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Ibid, 9. 1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION This seems a most daunting task. How does one give a vision of the whole universe in just the right way? In her wisdom Dr. Montessori recognized that usual and traditional teaching methods would be ineffective in accomplishing this goal. She recognized that the teacher must centralize the interest of the child in order to give this vision, and that would require a fresh approach. If not, we would simply succeed in limiting our teaching to particular disconnected subjects of limited scope, resulting in the imparting of small details for memorization. But we are reminded that we have at our disposal, that powerful instrument now functioning in the child, the imagination. If it is the imagination that we use, thought must be given to ways to permit the imagination to wander at will through time and space, ways to feed that imagination, ways to appeal to it in 'just the right way". It would seem, therefore, that the most appealing impressions would be ones filled with imagery and allegory: imagery, where vivid descriptions were spoken to produce mental images; and allegory given to produce a symbolic representation through dramatic presentation. Since this is the case, what better technique can we use than telling stories. By telling stories we can provide the imagination the material it requires for children to understand peoples, events, places, happenings, and situations that they can't be in touch with temporally or sensorially. Dr. Montessori herself describes Cosmic Education "as a thrilling tale" to be told, a tale told in five chapters. And because this exploration of the universe is an imaginative exploration, it has to be a dramatic one. And so, Dr. Montessori exercised the art of storytelling in the presentation of this unfolding drama. For this reason, Mario Montessori has described his mother as "a storyteller of the truth". Through what are known in Montessori elementary parlance as the five great stories, she opened the doors onto the drama of the universe by telling stories. Her first great story she called God with No Hands, which recounts the coming into being of the universe. The story that follows is the second great story, The Coming of Life, which describes in vivid detail the coming of plants and animals as a pageant of glory. The third great story is our story. It is the Coming of Human Beings. The last two stories to be told are about the accomplishments and achievements of the last great protagonist to appear in this important tale. These two stories highlight for the children the fruits of the labors of the main character, the human being: the language of communication and the language of invention. Just as the traditional storyteller has the pleasant responsibility of leading children to books, so too, does the Montessori teacher, who tells the five great lessons. It is her ability to paint a picturesque and vivid account of the happenings in all her lessons, that will pique and 1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION stimulate the children to be more and more interested in pursuing something of interest. The Montessori teacher must remember that a storyteller works with words. The sound of words, the way she puts them together to form a rhythmic pattern please the ear and evoke a physical response from the young child. If she forgets this and presents to the six-year-old child, a story that is didactical and dry, even though it is a story founded in science, she will have lost the attention of the child, but more importantly she will have failed to use that great tool, the imagination, which is presently at her disposal. The Montessori teacher must also remember that these stories that are told, do not reveal the whole picture, but they leave something to be imagined, something to be found out, something to drive the child to explore on his own. Just as with professional performers, we should leave our audience wanting more. If something interests the child's mind, he will not be able to rest until he has explored it more deeply. This is the nature of the mind of the human being: it is restless when it is intrigued. Montessori teachers must end the stories before too much is given, but they also must let the children know that there are many more stories to come, and to feel free to ask for them later on. Once the imagination is set to work by the telling of the five great stories, that will open up the possibility of exploring as many areas as possible. When the children approach you with the request, "Tell me a story about the plants," or "I want to hear about the oceans," you will be fully launched into botany and geography. Once again, we can appeal to the imaginations of the children by telling them the story of the facts. How a plant makes its food is a scientific fact, but it can be made into a story that appeals to and is understood by the sixyear-old child, by simply choosing the right words and presentingit in just the right way.

1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION Dr. Montessori was not the only person who held this view. Laura Simms, a storyteller and librarian, mentioned during one of her workshops: When a child comes to the library to seek information, we can offer it not only through books, but through a story. In this way we can inspire intelligence, breathe life and color into words, and insinuate that there are more questions than answers. If you think of all of the areas in the classroom that we could call subjects, what are they if not stories of simple truths. In the words of Margaret Stephenson: What is geography, but the story of the earth, and its coming into being through the following of laws, given the substances through which it is formed. What is biology, but the story of the coming of life on the earth, to preserve the harmony of the world, and to furnish it with beauty, color, form, scent, and variety. What is history, but the story of human beings who came to fulfill the cosmic plan set in motion at the time of the origin of the universe. What is language, but one of the stories human beings have written themselves, the achievement of the discipline of the power residing in the mind of man, that it is to have ideas and to communicate to others. What is mathematics, but the story of another language created by the human being to have a way through formulae, some arithmetical, some geometrical, some algebraic, to transmit his inventions. What is science, but an account of the inventions of man to perfect his material territory, the economy he developed is a way to satisfy his physical needs. What are art and music, but two stories told with other languages, to set beside the language of letters.5 From this reflection it becomes clear that by telling stories of all aspects of Cosmic Education the global vision of cosmic events is put into perspective for the child. Once the child pictures for himself the relationships among each of the parts of the whole and understands the interrelatedness and interdependence of the universe, he may be led to question for himself the role that he will be asked to play. This was Dr. Montessori's belief. She also believed, that by putting the child in perspective with other peoples and other places he eventually may come to demonstrate an empathy and kinship for those who were different and less fortunate than he. ________________________ 5

Cosmic Education Lecture, AMI Elementary course in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1991. 1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION It is interesting that the noted Russian author and specialist in children's language and literature, Kornei Chukovsy, believed that storytelling could cultivate these same noble characteristics. He said in his book From Two to Five, …that he believed the goal of storytelling to be "fostering the child’s compassion and humanness-this miraculous ability of man to be disturbed by another being's misfortunes, to feel joy about another being's happiness, to experience another's fate as one's own.

Kinds of Storytelling for the Elementary Child At this second plane of development, because of the imaginative power of the child, fairy tales are of interest. Because the children now are able to recognize fact from fantasy it is time to include them in your repertoire of storytelling. However, before one tells a story, other than a prescribed Montessori lesson, much thought must be put into the selection because it is not always an easy matter. Although the storyteller may be recreating a traditional tale, it is his or her experience of life that enters the telling and makes the story ring true. The story must do something for the teller, and the teller must do something for the story. There are some stories that are perfect for one person and perfectly awful for another. For instance, the Jack Tales that Richard Chase tells come to life when told with a sense of masculine humor, wry characterizations, and a mountaineer's turn of speech. These particular qualities are quite unsuited for a storyteller of a delicate style who prefers the highly polished form of Hans Andersen's tales. So, each person, by the process of trial and error perhaps, must discover the type of stories most compatible with his unique storytelling personality. It is worth noting, though, that all folklore is good for storytelling by someone, whomever and wherever she is. It is also worth noting that there are different kinds from which to choose, and we are going to concern ourselves with those now. Folk tales are anonymous stories that have been handed down from generation to generation either by word of mouth or in writing. Folk tales are simple stories that concentrate almost entirely on plot. They are usually short. These are the easiest stories to tell and so lend themselves readily to novice storytellers. They are easy because storytellers created them orally and have a perfected form for narration. Many stories are kept alive because they reflect a regional flavor. Examples are the Uncle Remus stories, the Jack Tales and the "tall tales". The word Myth comes from the Greek word "mythos" meaning word, speech, and these are religious stories that attempt to describe the nature of the world and human existence. A myth is an explanatory tale trying to account for all sorts of phenomena, which is now explained by modern science. Those agents, which are held responsible for these phenomena, are believed to be certain powers, such as gods or demons. These gods and demons possess bodies that can be either animal or human. The myth also attempts to make more acceptable the painful

1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION realities of existence -danger, disease, misfortune, and death-by explaining them as part of a sacred order in the universe. Greek, Roman and Norse myths are the most familiar, but there are also Semitic, Iranian and even an Oceanic mythology. Myths are the next richest source of stories to tell, but the storyteller has the difficulty of having to adapt his story generally from several sources, until he has a version he enjoys thoroughly. Successfully telling myths demands more imagination in the telling and a more choice vocabulary than the folk tales. An epic is a repertoire of stories that embodies national ideals in the person of a human hero, a doer of mighty deeds, such as Robin Hood and King Arthur. They are sometimes written in verse, as are the Iliad or the Sigurd Saga. In them legendary heroes pursue legendary adventures, aided or hindered by partisan gods. The earliest known heroic epic, Gilgamesh, was first told by the Sumerians, the inventors of the written word, and then was taken over by the Babylonians when the Sumerian civilization collapsed in 2000 B.C. E. The great epics of the English Beowulf and the Finnish Kalevala were told for centuries before scholars recorded them. The Ramayana is a myth-epic of India that tells how the god Vishnu came to earth as Prince Rama, a mortal, to save mankind from the evil powers of Ravan. Once on earth, Rama behaves much like other epic heroes. In Japan we have the Tale of Genji, the son of an ancient Japanese emperor that concentrates on Genji's personal life and describes the customs of the aristocratic society of the time.

These hero cycles or epics are the hardest of all stories to tell. They demand long and careful preparation, a comparison of versions, and considerable practice before they are ready for telling.

1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION Legends usually relate some aspect of the history of a culture. Stories describing the growth of the railroad in the United States or the settlement of the Wild West often take the form of legends. Legends are set in the present or in the historical past. Although legends may have religious implications, most are not religious in nature. Legends distort the truth, but they are based on real people or events. Every society produces legends. They constitute an unofficial or folk history by reflecting the attitudes and values of the group that creates them. In addition, legend heroes possess exaggerated attributes - positive or negative- of special significance to a society. For example, many legends tell about George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. Such legends emphasize the courage and fairness of these great Presidents of the United States. The majority of societies have both local and national legends. Local legends tell about heroes of a particular ethnic group, occupation, or region. For example, John Henry is a legendary hero of black Americans, and Casey Jones has the same rank among railroad engineers. National legends are shared by an entire people. Many British men, women and children take pride in the achievements described in the tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Urban legends are an increasingly common form of folk narrative. They reflect the anxieties of modern urban living. Fables are brief narratives that take abstract ideas of good or bad, wise or foolish behavior, and attempt to make them concrete and striking enough to be understood and remembered. Whether the characters are men or beasts, they remain coldly impersonal and engage in a single significant act that teaches a moral lesson. The chief actor in most fables is an animal or inanimate object that behaves like a human being and has one dominant trait. Most fables are not concerned with people, but there are a substantial number of fables that tell about human beings and still retain their fable quality, for example, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, the Milkmaid and Her Pail. If one says "fable" to an English-speaking child, he may think at once of Aesop'sFables. However, to a French child, La Fontaine and fables are inseparably associated. In the Orient there are collections of fables that resemble each other, while showing striking differences. There is the Panchatantra, meaning “five books," which is the oldest known collection of Indian fables. Compared to Aesop's fables the stories of the Panchatantra seem long and involved. Some of these poems are sixteen or twenty verseslong, but the quatrain is the more usual type: A friend in need is a friend indeed, Although of different caste; The whole world is your eager friend., So long as riches last. Another ancient collection of Indian fables is the group called the Jatakas. Jatakas is the Buddhist name for stories concerning the rebirths of Gautama Buddha, who according to 1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION tradition was reincarnated many times in the forms of different animals until he became at last Buddha, the Enlightened One. These beast stories, then are really about a man living briefly as an animal, consorting with other animals, and deriving from these experiences certain ethical lessons. Fables have a teasing likeness to proverbs and parables. All three embody universal truths in brief striking form. Of the three, the proverb is the most highly condensed commentary on human folly or wisdom. It tells no story but presents a bit ofwisdom succinctly: A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it. There are Japanese proverbs that are amazingly like our proverbs in their implications: He who wants to shoot the general must first shoot his horse. A cornered mouse bites the cat. It is conjectured that the fable grew out of the proverb to dramatize its pithy wisdom in story form. The parable is like the fable in that it tells a brief story from which a moral or spiritual truth may be inferred. But its characters, unlike the personified animals or objects of most fables, are generally human beings, like the Prodigal Son, or the Good Samaritan. The parables use people or things as object lessons, and the matchless parables of Jesus point out and amplify the moral. Whether one picks a myth or fairy tale, legend or epic, one must always consider whether the piece requires adaptation for the audience to which it will be given. Things to remember, if such an adaptation is to be made: 1. Never insult the audience by writing it down. 2. Select those stories or themes that the children can understand. 3. Remember to review all stories for adult frankness. 4. Myths need much work. Bullfinch's myths are considered dull and bare, requiring a complete visualization, using all of one's creative imagination. Hawthorne's versions are considered masterful, when pruned of the asides and the touches that make the characters seem juvenile. 5. Epics also need work. The Odyssey requires, for example, a complete reordering of the episodes since in the original story the actual chronological beginning does not appear until the ninth book. The Norse epic, Sigurd, the Volsung, is often abbreviated before the end, because it is believed that only adults can endure the tragic aftermath. Also, one theme that appears in the epic is of a most adult nature. Finally, adaptations should be simple enough to be thoroughly comprehensible to children without sacrificing the spirit, meaning or the richness of the originals. 1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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Techniques of Storytelling Storytelling is an art, and like all arts, it requires training and experience. Keep in mind that anyone who has a sincere desire can become a successful storyteller. With that in mind, once a story has been decided upon it is well to review the important techniques of storytelling. There are several basic steps to consider: 1. Know your story well. It must be known well so that it can be told as if it were a personal reminiscence or so that it flows. First, you must genuinely desire to tell your story. You must care deeply with the content or style or both. Never try to tell a story that barely interests you. a. In order to know the story well practice telling it aloud to yourself. Practice in front of a mirror to catch any distracting mannerisms you might have. Find every opportunity that you can to practice. Practice while waiting in a doctor's office, while traveling, while doing undemanding chores, while walking the dog. b. When you are learning the story, it is important to learn it as a whole rather than in fragments. Perceive the story line. The story line consists of the beginning, body and ending. The beginning, which sets the stage and introduces the characters and conflict, requires special care because it establishes the mood of your tale, puts your audience into that mood and builds up anticipation. It is in the body that the conflict builds to the climax, while in the ending, we find the resolution of the conflict. The ending should leave your audience satisfied with a sense of completion and conviction. c. Depending on the story there may be parts of the story that you want to memorize, especially if there are characteristic phrases that are important to the story. 2. One's tone of voice should relate to what is going on in the story. The storyteller develops sensitivity to words. Feel the appropriate emotion when you sound words so that the word "dull", for example, has dullness about it. Remember voice and the spoken word are the medium for the art and should be used with the same care and appreciation with which a painter uses line, color and perspective. Pitch your voice carefully, let it remain flexible and never drone. Always maintain the quiet, intimate tone of friendly conversation, but at the same time speak so that everyone in your audience can hear you easily. 3. Timing is a dramatic part of storytelling. Each story has its own individual pace. a. Pause before any change of idea, or significant word. b. Emphasize the words that carry meaning. c. Imaginative passages should be taken slowly. The parts narrating action should be given rapidly. d. Build toward the climax. Change pace as you near it so that your listeners may know the pleasure of anticipation. You want to build a sense of expectationas the story grows. e. Remember that the pause and a lowered voice can be more effective than the shout.

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION 4. Gestures should be natural to the story and to the storyteller. Use your hands naturally. If you do not know what to do with them, hold them behind your back, rather than jamming them in your pockets or standing with them crossed. The art of storytelling should not be confused with the art of acting. Simple, subtle, expressions of the face and eyes, responding even as the voice responds to the import of the story- a twinkle in the eye, the sudden gravity, the warning frown-in short, those slight but unmistakable responses to the changing mood or matter of the tale are enough to transmit the flavor and meaning of the story. The elaborate pantomime and large dramatic gestures of the stage have no place in storytelling. The storyteller interprets and expresses the ideas, moods, and emotions of the author, but never identifies with any character. 5. There should be no gimmicks, no tricks of changing voices to suit each character in the story. These only tend to distract from the story. 6. How you use your breath is important. Place your voice somewhere near the middle of the chest rather than in the head or upper chest. If you breathe from the abdomen you will give rich, full tones, connoting strength and vigor. If you breathe from the upper chest or head you will give lighter, weaker tones. Deep, controlled breathing gives to the voice both support and increased range and color. Shallow breathing makes thin, tired voices that are apt to become shrill and sharp. For practice try reading Shakespeare's Sonnet XXIX (19) trying lines 2, 3, and 4 on one breath, or lines 11 and 12 together. 7. Overcome any lazy habits of articulation. This can be done by exercising the speech organs in much the same way that we exercise for muscular coordination in athletics or instrumental music. There are tongue, lip and jaw exercises that are traditionally done in order to strengthen these organs. You must have clear diction. "Around the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran." You also want to avoid artificial, over- precise enunciations as well. If we are New Englanders, Southerners, Mid-westerners or Westerners, let's not try for Oxford English or any other unnatural accent to us. Instead, let's eradicate the impurities of our own particular region, and try to speak the purest, most vigorous pattern of English that predominates in our section of the country. Storytelling is ruined if it sounds artificial or pretentious, for it is the homiest of all the arts. 8. Look directly at your listeners and as you speak; let your gaze move from one to another so that each child feels involved in the telling of the story. Break eye contact only to look at an imaginary scene or object you want your listeners to see, for example, when you look back at the beginning of the Black Strip to see how far we have come; or when you engage in dialogue between two or more characters during the telling, for example, during the Flower Story as the flowers call to the insects to "come hither." 9. Establish the mood of the story through your physical appearance; have a pleasant expression, a smile, exhibit personal warmth. Whether you sit or stand, you must be relaxed and easy. Dress comfortably and simply. Wear no jewelry or clothing that will distract from the story and take care not to fuss or fiddle with the jewelry that you do wear. There is no need to wear a "costume". Your clothes should be the kind your audience forgets the moment the tale begins. In short, avoid any distracting element in your dress that centers attention on you and takes it away from the story.

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION 10. A story can be told anywhere. What are needed are a setting that is informal and an atmosphere that is relaxed and intimate. A close semicircle of listeners facing the storyteller seems to be the most effective arrangement. In this configuration the storyteller can be heard and seen easily by all of the children. She can sit or stand, depending on the size of the group and visibility. 11. No definitions of "strange" words are necessary. The context of the storyand the child's imagination are enough to supply definitions. If a storyteller becomes bogged down in a vocabulary lesson the pleasure is diminished for the children, who should be allowed to relax and enjoy the story. However, make sure children understand most of the strange words. Paraphrase if necessary, when you encounter words like "pate, goody, lassie, tapers, minstrels", etc. The easiest way to explain these baffling words to young listeners is just to paraphrase them casually as you tell the story: "Just then he met a lassie- a young girl- 'Good day, lassie,' said he." And the word is established. There is no reason why children should not hear a much wider range of words than they are going to use, but there is every reason why you should help them to understand the words as they hear them, either by paraphrasing or systematically explanation before or after the story. As a storyteller, you cannot go far with a meager vocabulary; moreover, you must develop sensitivity to words, so that they relate well to the story being told. Such colloquialisms as "Boots got real mad," or " 'O.K.,' said the lad," can ruin the mood and magic of a tale. Words must be chosen with a sensitive perception of the individual style of each tale.

Conclusion To tell a story well really needs no technique at all. What it needs is knowledgeof your story, an enjoyment of the story that is being told, and a mental picture of what the story is about and where it is set. The greatest enemy to the successful telling of a story is selfconsciousness. Elizabeth Nesbitt, a storyteller long associated with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, said, Storytelling, like anything else, cannot achieve its rightful best unless it is done with understanding, integrity, and acceptance of the fact that it requires thought, care, time and knowledge in selection and preparation, and recognition of the necessity for a special kind of artistry in the telling. The art of storytelling is a spontaneous, unsophisticated art.

1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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STORY TELLING LONG VERSION With the guidance that we have been given by Dr. Maria Montessori, with the stories that we learned and tucked in the pages of our albums for the children in our charge, with any direction provided by my words, perhaps we can venture forth to take part ourselves in that age-old art of storytelling, like our predecessors before us, and continue the transmission of knowledge and legacies from one generation to the next. For storytelling is a living art that always takes place in the present among people. As the Maori storyteller says: The breath of life. The spirit of life. The word of life. It flies to you and you and you Always the word. May you all live happily ever after.

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Glossary: *

Cumulative tale: a repetitive tale characterized by minimum plot and maximum rhythm, e.g., The house that Jack Built

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Droll: a story about sillies or numskulls, e.g., The Wise Men of Helm and Their Merry Tales, by Solomon Simon.

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Epic: a cycle of tales centered around one hero, e.g., The Green Hero: Early Adventures of Finn McCool, by Bernard Evslin, Gilgamesh.

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Fable: a brief story that teaches a moral lesson: usually the main characters are animals that speak as humans, e.g., Aesop's fables.

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Fairy tale: a story involving the "little people": fairies, elves, pixies, gnomes, dwarfs, brownies, leprechauns.

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Folktale: a traditional story in which quite ordinary people have extraordinary adventures involving magical objects, transformations, talking animals, e.g., "East o' theSun and West o' the Moon."

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Hero tale: A tale that recounts the exploits of a human hero who embodies the ideals of a culture, e.g., The Story of King Arthur and His Knights.

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Legend: a narrative about a person, place, or event involving real or pretended belief, e.g., "The Legend of the Palm Tree."

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Literary fairy tale: a story that uses the form of the traditional folktale or fairytale but that has an identifiable author, e.g., Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories.

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Motif: The smallest element that persists in a traditional tale, for example, the favorite youngest child.

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Myth: a story about the gods, demigods, or culture heroes that attempts to explain natural phenomena or the origins of human civilization and customs, e.g., "Pandora's Box."

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Realistic story: a story that is true to life. It may be a biography, a historical novel, an adventure tale, or an animal story.

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Religious tale: a story that uses elements of religious belief, e.g., "The Juggler of Notre Dame."

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Romance: a medieval story in verse or prose based on chivalrous love and adventure, e.g., The Story of Roland, by James Baldwin.

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Talking Animal tale: a story that teaches a moral lesson but so subtly that we are not aware of it, e.g., the African Wakaima and Anansi stories. The main character(s) are animals.

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Tall tale: exaggerated stories about extraordinary persons or animals, e.g., "Pecos Bill Becomes a Coyote."

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Traditional tale: A story that has been handed down from one generation to another, either by writing or by word of mouth. There is no identifiable author.

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Type: a recognizable tale for which variants are known.

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Variant: A different version of the same tale, e.g., "Tom Tit Tot" is the English version of the German "Rumpelstiltskin." 1994-2021 Phyllis Pottish-Lewis

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Bibliography Arbuthnot, May Hill, Children and Books, Scott, Foresman and Company, Chicago, Atlanta, DAllas, Palo Alto, Fair Lawn, N.J., 1964 Baker, Augusta and Greene, Ellin, Storytelling: Art and Technique, R.R. Bowker Company, New York and Longdon, 1977. Chukovsky, Kornei, From Two to Five, U of C. Press, 1963 Standard Dictionary of Folklore Mythology and Legend, Maria Leach, editor, Funk and Wagnalls, New York, 1972. World Book Encyclopaedia, 1993. Montessori, Maria, To Educate the Human Potential,

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