Storytelling at school
to master the art of speech

Table of Contents

The Project

How to tell stories at school?

What stories can be used?

What would be the benefits?

Looking for the booklet version of this guide to read offline or print ?


Guide Introduction

Why we are all storytellers

Based on a tale from West Africa

Anansi the Spider wanted to have all the wisdom of the world, for herself alone, and she knew that wisdom ansi the Spider wanted to have all was to be found in the stories of the god of heaven. Using all her tricks, Anansi seized all the stories, locked them in a box, and tied that box to her belly.

— I’m going to climb to the top of the tallest
tree, and hide my box of stories where no one
else will ever find it, she thought to herself.

Anansi began to climb the tree, but the box attached to her belly kept banging against the tree trunk. She climbed higher and higher but the more she climbed, the more the box was getting in her way. Then Anansi heard the laughter of a child at the foot of the tree.

— Are you making fun of me?
— Yes, cried the child, because you’re an idiot, Anansi!
— You’re wrong! cried Anansi, I possess all the wisdom there is. All the stories of the world are in my box!

The child laughed even louder.

— Then why do you carry the box attached to your belly, so that it hits against the tree trunk? You should have tied it to your back!

Anansi knew that the child was right. In her anger, she untied the box and threw it at him. The box fell towards the child, but hit a branch of the tree. The box opened and all the stories came out.

The stories were blown away and carried by the wind, across oceans, forests and mountains all over the world. Slowly, the stories drifted and landed on all of us.

That’s why we all carry stories with us.

That’s why we are all storytellers.

Barbara Lachi (Grimm Sisters)


The word is first and foremost, at the heart of creation, it is one of the oldest tools of humanity. Oral proficiency is the basis of all learning: before learning how to read and write, the child must learn how to speak.

We tend to believe that there are some that are born speakers with a natural charisma, capable of expressing themselves fluently… and there are others.

Some benefit, during their early years, from a social environment that favours rich and complex conversations. This creates a gap with those from less privileged backgrounds. This gap, which is noticeable from their very first learning experiences, widens throughout their school years and has repercussions on their professional and their social life.

However, good speaking skills can be taught! So, how can we help pupils to improve their command of the spoken word? Through practice, with storytelling.

Tales are part of a common oral cultural heritage, they are structured narratives: a framework that encourages reasoning, memory, imagination, among many other benefits that we invite you to discover.

We have chosen to present content for pupils aged 5 to 11, as these are crucial years for learning the fundamentals.

Guide summary

The Project

Insights and the spirit of the project

How to tell stories at school?

From a pedagogical point of view, the method proposed in this guide is different from those traditionally offered at school, that rather tend to value the written word and rote memorisation.
From a didactic point of view, the objectives to be achieved are different from those in the written field. An oral performance cannot be evaluated in the same way as a written text. Here, the aim is to enable children to tell stories without the help of physical mediums (books, pictures, etc).
On, in addition to the pedagogical files and practical worksheets, you will find examples of stories ready to be told, as well as audio and video recordings.

What stories can be used?

We have chosen to focus on stories from the oral tradition: tales, but also finger games, nursery rhymes, cumulative tales, songs, myths and legends…
Storytelling is one of the oldest and most shared oral forms. These are tales to be told with your words, your emotions!

What would be the benefits?

Before telling a story, we learn to listen. When we tell a story, we create our own mental images, we work on our memory and imagination, we learn new words and, in front of others, we gain self-confidence.
The benefits of storytelling at school belong to these three categories: linguistic, cognitive, and social.
Storytelling at school means taking part in an inclusive, collective project, where everyone – including children with specific learning disabilities – is equally valued.
Speaking out is also an opportunity for children to enter into dialogue with each other, to learn to listen to one another, which promotes harmony in the classroom.
Learning to be a better listener is to become a better speaker.
Learning how to be a better speaker is to become a better thinker. And better thinkers… are better writers, too!

The Project