Great stories tell about interesting people or animals facing tough problems. We care about them and want them to succeed—and we cheer when they do. Great storytellers bring those characters to life, building suspense as we wait to find out what happens next. You can be a great storyteller by using the tips in this chapter.
Choosing a Story
Folktales, fairy tales, legends, and tall tales are all fun to tell. Choose a story you really like—one you can tell in about 5 minutes. Stories that repeat words or lines (like “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”) make good choices.
Listeners like to hear special words repeated. It keeps them interested in the story.
Learning the Story
Read the Story Out Loud
Read the story out loud three or four times. Try to picture what is happening—as if you were watching a movie in your mind.
Make Note Cards
Write down the first and last sentences of the story on separate note cards.
Then write down ideas about the main events of the story. Use a different index card for each event. (See the next two pages.)
On some cards, add interesting words and actions.
- Mark words you want to say with special feeling.
- Add movements or sounds you want to make.
Try to Memorize Your Story
You should be able to tell the story without looking at your notes!
Sample Note Cards
These two pages include some sample note cards for the story “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.”
Three Bill Goats Gruff
Retold by J. Robert King
Three billy goats named Hans, Franz, and Brawnz lived on a tiny island with very little grass. They seemed gruff, but really, they were just very hungry.
Hans one day saw a piece of driftwood in the sea and grabbed it in his teeth. He tried to swim to the grassy mainland, but the wood sank, and Hans sank, too. He staggered, drenched and sputtering, back onto the island.
Franz said, “Good idea, but we need a whole raft.” So he and Hanz spent a week fishing out more driftwood and built a raft tied together with seaweed. They climbed on it and pushed off, but the waterlogged wood sank, and the brothers did, too. Soaked to the skin, they flopped back on the island.
Brawnz said, “That wood is too wet for a boat, but we can build a bridge.” So the three brothers worked for months to snag enough driftwood, and then labored for months more to build a rickety bridge, tied together with seaweed.
The moment it was done, though, a huge, horrid, vicious troll stomped into place on the far side. “You can’t pass over this bridge unless you pay me 10 gold apiece!” he snarled.
The brothers had no gold on their little island, but they had no grass left either. They had to cross or starve!
Hanz was the smallest and hungriest, so he straggled first over the rickety bridge. At the far side, he stood in the deep dark shadow of that snarling troll and said, “Please let me pass, sir. I have no gold, but I’m starving!”
The troll, who was fat from already eating a whole herd of goats, growled, “I’m starving, too! Ten gold, or I eat you!”
Hanz was tiny but clever. “I’m not a biteful. Let me pass, and my brother Franz will pay you 20 gold, or you can eat him, and he is two bitefuls!”
The troll let Hanz pass but drooled with greed at the delicious-looking Franz: “Pay me 50 gold, or go in my belly!”
Franz made his teetering way across and stood in that huge, horrid shadow. “Please let me pass, sir. I have no gold, and I’m only two bitefuls. If you let me pass, my brother will pay you 100 gold, or you can eat him, and he is 10 bitefuls!”
Gnashing his terrible teeth, the troll let Franz pass and watched hungrily for brawny Brawnz to cross. “You must pay me 1,000 gold, or feed me with your life!”
Brawnz stood in that rotten, reeking shadow. “I have no gold, so you’d better open wide.” The troll spread his putrid fangs, and Brawnz leaped into them. But instead of sliding into that foul gullet, he smashed his horns on the teeth and flung the terrible troll from the bridge into the sea.
Bleating with joy, the three Billy Goats Gruff gathered together on that green, grassy mainland and ate and ate and ate for years. Brawnz and Franz and Hanz grew to be a hundred bitefuls, each—so big and strong that trolls never bothered them again.