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Topic: Important Storytelling Resources - An Incomplete Bibliography
Message: Posted by: ProfessorMagicJMG (Jun 7, 2016 02:28PM)
My interest in storytelling goes way back to the early 1990s when I was still in college. Over the years during and immediately after college I built up a good library of books about Storytelling as a performing art. That was in the peak of the storytelling revival, and you could often hear famous storytellers like Kathryn Tucker Windham (still alive and recording weekly broadcasts at the time) and many others who were headliners at the National Storytelling Festival in East Tennessee.

I have been thunderstruck by my (very late) discovery of Storytelling/Theatrical Magic, and as many have shared suggestions for building my personal Storytelling Magic library, I want to return the favor by sharing some of my favorite resources for "plain old" storytelling, since anything that fits in one category will definitely interest those pursuing the other and vice versa. This is not the complete list of my library; just some of the better and lesser known titles.


The games included here have richly illustrated cards with story elements that would be great for impromptu storytelling or as inspirations to create tales around magic effects.

Tales of the Arabian Nights - a Choose Your Own Adventure game in which the point is not to "win" but to create amazing stories in the 1001 Arabian Nights setting. Sumptuously illustrated; excellent for families with children.

Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game (with expansions)
Bundle with 4 expansions: http://www.amazon.com/Once-Upon-Time-Bundle-Expansions/dp/B01BUHSSSW

Once Upon A Time Writer's Guide - "Learn how to turn the cards from the award-winning Once Upon A Time storytelling card game into the perfect framework for your own written stories."


The Jack Tales - Richard Crane - This is an essential work for storytellers; Crane collected these Southern Appalachian tales from the original sources, immigrants from the UK who settled in the mountains (think "Hatfields and McCoys")

Italian Folktales - Italo Calvino - The author is famous for his non-linear novel "If on a Winter's Night A Stranger," and I was delighted to find he had translated a huge tome of folktales from his native land.

Spells of Enchantment: The Wondrous Fairy Tales of Western Culture - Jack Zipes - The author has also written several great studies of the fairy tale genre you might want to locate.

13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey - Kathryn Tucker Windham - Alabama's Storyteller Laureate - KTW was a legend of storytelling for most of her life; her rich Deep South accent and gentle, melodic voice were hypnotic to hear. She was famous for her friendship with her own personal ghost Jeffrey and told many stories about him. She wrote a series of ghost story collections featuring several Southern states including Alabama, Georgia and others. She was a prolific writer and one of the first female journalists employed in Alabama.

The Fables of La Fontaine - Marianne Moore - Wonderful modern translations of the Fables which are three centuries old.

Fantastic Fables - Ambrose Bierce (Dover Press) - Witty, bitter satire with a splash of bizarre fantasy.

Myths of the Cherokee and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokee - James Mooney - Tales and rituals collected from first hand sources. These are the actual legends of the Cherokee Indians, who developed their own syllable-based alphabet and had a printing press and a regular newspaper before their removal and the Trail of Tears. These are some of my ancestors; my Great Grandmother was of the Tribe.

The Book of Legendary Lands - Umberto Eco - From the author of "The Name of the Rose," comes this thorough, lavishly illustrated reference work and collection of stories about lost cities, faraway places, and real and imaginary places. This book is a gold mine of source material for developing tales of exploration and adventure. There were many misconceptions about real places that gave rise to wild stories and speculation; the book also has a huge section on the travels of the Holy Grail.

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places - A classic work now revised and reprinted; this is the definitive collection of places that never were, from Middle Earth to Terabithia to Atlantis to Narnia.

Breverton's Phantasmagoria - Great little compact guide book to imaginary creatures, featuring vintage, antique and period illustrations.


The Way of the Storyteller - Ruth Sawyer - This is a classic text for performers. From the jacket: "In this unique volume, a great storyteller reveals the secrets of her art - then goes on to tell eleven of her best stories."

Homespun: Tales from America's Favorite Storytellers - Jimmy Neal Smith, ed. - A collection of stories told at the National Storytelling Festival, published 1988

Best-loved Stories Told at the National Storytelling Festival - NAPPS, Intro by Jane Yolen - self-explanatory, 1991 ("20th Anniversary Edition") So that makes 2016 the 45th anniversary of the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN (This year's event is Oct. 7-9, 2016)

*Creative Storytelling: Choosing, Inventing, and Sharing Tales for Children - Jack Maguire - Get. This. Book. It's the absolute best one I EVER found on how to "make up" stories, using archetypes, known tale structures, and mythic traditions. It is an essential text for Storytellers, much like Tales of Enchantment by Walt Anthony is for Storytelling Magicians.

Storytelling & the Art of Imagination - Nancy Mellon - How to develop stories including moods, themes, characters, settings, beginning and ending. Very good. "In this step-by-step guide, the author outlines the essential energies of every good story and teaches us how to use visualization and imagination to evoke them."

The Grammar of Fantasy: An Introduction to the Art of Inventing Stories - Gianni Rodari - Transl. Jack Zipes - Rodari was a prolific Italian author of children's books and an educator; this work includes "numerous and wonderful techniques for creating stories ...in the context of the imagination, fairy tales, folk tales, children's stories, cognitive development, and compassionate education."


The Myth of the Eternal Return: Or, Cosmos and History - Mircea Eliade - The deep scholarly treatise on the idea of the monomyth that inspired Joseph Campbell, who inspired George Lucas to make Star Wars

The Power of Myth - Joseph Campbell (Ed Moyers) - Transcript of a PBS series exploring the work of Joseph Campbell, who wrote "The Hero's Journey," and transformed Hollywood movie making with the popularization of the monomyth, the idea that one great archetypal story emerges in the hero legends of cultures around the world, identifiable and consistent. It is the basis of the original Star Wars film because of his influence on George Lucas, which is discussed in the book.

The Morphology of the Folktale - Vladimir Propp - This describes a number of motifs, or patterns, common in folktales (specifically Russian folktales), that can be used with "Creative Storytelling" by Maguire to create authentic stories with recognizable folk and fairy tale features. This book goes "under the hood" of the structure of folk tales, based on an analysis of a known body of actual stories. He breaks these down into discrete formulas that can be used to generate story structures. It's incredible.

The Folktale - Stith Thompson - This is an important and essential work for the designers of storytelling experiences: it is a huge volume that classifies and categorizes the themes, tropes and elements of various folktales. I consider it the companion volume to Morphology of the Folktale, in that MoF is an inductive study from specifics to generalizations and The Folktale is a deductive study using general categories to organize specific, useful concepts in a way that is easily searchable and referenced and indexed. You will learn about all the rich variety of kinds of folktales and archetypes and themes within them.

Story, Performance, and Event - Richard Bauman - Cambridge Studies in Oral and Literate Culture - Bauman analyzes a set of first hand narrations of Texas stories and examines the relationships between the actual events being related and the performance event itself. This is pretty deep stuff and probably not all that useful from a practical standpoint but it is one of the few scholarly books I found that look at storytelling from an academic point of view and still contains some great stories transcribed as they were told.
Message: Posted by: Pascal974 (Jun 8, 2016 04:05AM)
Many thanks John Marc, an excellent idea and great resources.
Thanks for sharing.

Message: Posted by: ProfessorMagicJMG (Jun 28, 2016 05:58PM)
[quote]On Jun 8, 2016, Pascal974 wrote:
Many thanks John Marc, an excellent idea and great resources.
Thanks for sharing.

Pascal [/quote]

You're welcome! Happy to share. Also, I have an important addition to the list, and thanks to Brother Shadow for including it as well as Ruth Sawyer's book which is in my list also in his list of recommended titles for Storytelling Magic:

Touch Magic by Jane Yolen - Fantasy Faerie and Folklore in the Literature of Children
From Library Journal
This revision of a classic collection of historical and analytical essays explores the use of fantasy and fairytales in children's literature. The compilation of 16 perceptive essays includes six new entries and updates others from the original 1981 publication. Yolen, winner of the National Book Award and the Caldecott Medal, among other honors, is a renowned storyteller and author of more than 200 books for children and adults. Authoritative, eloquent, and fetching, her observations focus on traditional tales that have passed down through generations and been altered in the process. Folklore and fantasy have, she asserts, endured as basic learning tools to introduce young readers to the world around them, and the stories are a uniquely appropriate guide to day-to-day realities and culture. The definition and impact of these stories is couched in the wonder of fantasy and themes essential to today's young readers. As Yolen poetically observes, "To do without tales and stories and books is to lose humanity's past, is to have no star map for the future." This book will be prized by teachers, authors, students, and all readers who value the use of folklore, mythology, and the familiar stories of youth. A pleasure to read; highly recommended.DRichard K. Burns, MSLS, Hatboro, PA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
A popular, prolific, award-winning author known for her children's and young adult books has added six new essays to her thought-provoking perspectives on reading and appreciating fantasy, which first appeared in 1981. The new selections complement the older pieces nicely, and, of course, they are filled with personal anecdote and informed by Yolen's strong voice, extensive knowledge, and obvious love of her subject. Where the original pieces provided a raison d'etre for passing along traditional stories to children and lent insight into the genre, the new ones are rich with opinion on thorny contemporary issues--among them, the cultural stereotypes and "hidden messages" that are passed on in traditional tales. In the final selection, Yolen reiterates the importance of folklore to both children and adults, reflecting on the way we use its metaphors to connect us to our past and our future. The bibliography has been updated to incorporate references in the new essays. --Stephanie Zvirin
Message: Posted by: Rachmaninov (Nov 20, 2017 10:52AM)
Thanks for all those resources, so useful for the storyteller beginner I am.
Message: Posted by: ProfessorMagicJMG (Dec 6, 2017 09:41PM)
[quote]On Nov 20, 2017, Rachmaninov wrote:
Thanks for all those resources, so useful for the storyteller beginner I am. [/quote]

We were all beginners once; I built this for folks like you. Hope it is useful. :)
Message: Posted by: theocreswell (Dec 9, 2017 01:21PM)
This is amazing thank you! I think storytelling couplesd with magic is such a beautiful combination and can create some amazing experiences.

this is a great resource for us beginners!!
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Apr 2, 2018 09:48PM)
Might I add me as a Story Telling resource? :-) Some Exotic Hand Made Props and Ideas specifically for Tall Tale Telling.