Books and Recordings

Stories in my Pocket: Tales Kids Can Tell

Stories in my Pocket Cover
Table of Contents

1996, Fulcrum Publishing,
1-800-992-2908 or

Winner of a 1996 Storytelling World Gold Award

Everyone loves a well-told story. With this user friendly book, kids (of all ages) can become confident, polished storytellers. The book contains thirty stories that have been carefully selected for their appeal and suitability for telling, while the introduction provides just enough information for the novice storyteller to get started.

Book Reviews: Stories in my Pocket

"This is a new release by the Beauty and the Beast Storytellers (Mitch Weiss and Martha Hamilton), the same authors who gave us Children Tell Stories: A Teaching Guide. Their new book has 30 stories with storytelling tips including suggestions for timing and body language very clearly in another column on the page. They couldn't have made it easier to use the stories. The stories - and they are an excellent selection - represent different cultures and countries and trust me, are easy and short enough not only to use for children, but for beginner adult tellers as well.

The recording and book succeed because the tales are short, have clever plots, surprising endings, and even humor. You'll want to add both tape and book to your collection if you work with children. This could also make a super gift."

- The Storybag, a National Storytelling Newsletter

"If you teach storytelling to children, you'll want a copy of this book. The first 18 pages, addressed to the kids, explain how to choose, learn, and perform a story. Then follow 30 tales laid out in mouthsized pieces, with parallel columns suggesting gestures and vocal intonations to use. Ranging from fables and folktales to short literary gems, all are appealing and accessible to the beginner. At the end of the book is a section for adults, giving both pedagogical arguments and practical suggestions for ensuring success for young tellers. Detailed source notes and additional story suggestions round out the grown up section. Hamilton & Weiss have distilled excellent advice from their 16+ years experience working with young tellers. I think self-motivated students could use this book on their own; but an adult, using the content and tone of the authors' sections addressed to children, will be equipped to start a youth storytelling group with confidence."

- Territorial Tattler

"Stories in My Pocket: Tales Kids Can Tell, although it has a section for adults who work with children, is aimed at the child. It begins with an introduction to storytelling, and tips on how to choose, learn, and tell stories. Much of this part will be familiar to anyone who has used their first book, but here, of course, it is written for the child teller. There are excellent tips, exercises, tricks and techniques suggested.

The main part of the book is devoted to thirty stories which Martha and Mitch have selected and divided into four sections: Starter Stories; Next Step Stories; Challenging Stories; and Most Challenging Stories. Most of them are familiar world folktales retold by the authors. The text of the tales appears on the left side of the page, and suggestions for telling appear on the right. The suggestions include gestures, ways to personalize a locale, and how to sound and look as certain phrases are said...

There are brief introductions to each story which identify the genre of story, or give tips on when it might be told, or what it might inspire. Within the text, certain words are in bold print indicating that they may call for more emphasis. A final section for the young readers is designed to help them choose other stories on their own. It lists the elements of a good story for telling, and then provides a bibliography.

The last thirty pages of the book provide guidelines for adults helping children tell stories. Some of this material reinforces the tips for children given at the beginning of the book. There is also information on dealing with stage fright, critiquing child tellers, teaching audience manners, use of props, settings for telling, creating storytelling events, and the all-important page on fostering telling in the family . . . School and public libraries will want to be sure to have this one on hand."

- The Second Story Review

"A review copy of Stories in My Pocket: Tales Kids Can Tell fell into my hands with delightful serendipity. I was asked to review Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss's newest book and companion tape for beginning storytellers just as I finished teaching a workshop on storytelling to a group of homeschoolers. Hamilton and Weiss's earlier book, Children Tell Stories, is one of the best resources for beginning storytellers and their teachers/ facilitators. If asked to name one book on storytelling I would have recommended their earlier book without hesitation. Now I must supplant it with Stories in My Pocket and recommend it as the one book to buy for parents and teachers.

In its organization Stories in My Pocket: Tales Kids Can Tell is the reverse image of Children Tell Stories, which had many chapters of instruction followed by an appendix of stories. Their new book starts with a 17-page essay on the art of storytelling that is one of the most succinct and accessible how-to-tell-stories I've ever read (and I've read them all). The balance of the book is a collection of 30 stories to tell and suggestions on how to tell them. These are followed by another 35 pages of immediately applicable and extremely practical suggestions, resources, and appendices, etc. The accompanying tape models materials from the book in an inspiring collection of stories told by young tellers and our master storytelling duo, Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss.

One can jump right in by reading out loud any of their beginning stories and begin to experience how the oral tradition works. People who avoid reading instructions and champ at the bit to "just do it" will love the approachable structure of this book. The stories are presented with two columns; story on one side, with words to be emphasized in bold face type, and suggestions for the inclusion of voices, gestures, and movement on the other side. This works very well for beginners and experienced tellers.

I particularly respected the story choices; some old chestnuts and other stories which were quite unfamiliar. The brief cultural context that precedes each tale was helpful. Hamilton and Weiss achieve a clear immediacy in the writing of the stories which, while simple and lyrical in its own right, also suggests the possibility of embellishment that is so important in our oral tradition.

Whether you just want an excellent read-aloud collection or you want to master the art of storytelling or teach it - Stories in My Pocket is the book!"

- Growing Without Schooling, Fall 1998

"This delightful and informal guide to storytelling should encourage the natural narrative talents of children everywhere."

- Alison Lurie, Pulitzer Prize Winner

"A strong collection of 30 tales for beginning storytellers, conveniently arranged according to the difficulty of the telling. Among those included are Aesop fables and such favorites as "Tilly," which is designed to make an audience jump at the end. The introductory material, written directly to student tellers, contains advice on how to remember stories and develop characters, along with tips on working out the difficulties of telling stories to live audiences. Story text, broken into segments, appears on one side of the page, with suggestions for actions and gestures on the other side. A few guidelines for adults--event planning and handling stage fright, for example--are also included. Source notes cite multiple variants for most tales."

- Karen Morgan, Booklist