The power of storytelling

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Polly Peters, co-author of Ten Tales from Different Cultures


The power of stories

We are all storytellers. From the moment we begin to form our first words we name the things around us. Long before those initial sounds become recognizable, we humans are in training as storytellers as listening, observing, absorbing, and learning sparkle the neural connections in our developing brains. Stories threw a web around the world from the time the first people uttered sounds and addressed them to each other. Since then humanity has developed ever more complex ways of sharing tales, but children and adults retain a primal response to the power of a good story.

Gathering stories from around world

When the International Baccalaureate asked my husband Andrew and me to select ten stories from around the world to retell in Ten Tales from Different Cultures, we were extremely excited. Like collectors of precious jewels, we had the thrilling job of seeking out the most colourful, bright and imaginative tales. My husband and I have both been telling and retelling tales from around the world for many years. So we began to draw up a list but soon found that there were so many beautiful tales that is was difficult to come down to a selection of ten.

So how did we walk away from such a plentiful throng with just ten tales in our “story bag”? We grouped the stories according to geographical origin and looked closely at IB learner profile attributes and PYP attitudes. We then envisioned which stories could best be used for further exploration and discussion in class. That is how the selection of these ten tales came to be.

Spreading the words over the world

With our selection in place we started the process of rewriting these tales for the PYP storybooks. Writing down a traditional story brings with it the responsibility of honouring its legacy. Before these stories existed in print they had a past life in the imaginations and minds of the persons passing them on, the stories were embellished, honed and shaped over time. As writers we now follow in these footsteps by sharing these great tales with new audiences.

I very much enjoy imagining how these stories will continue to be retold in classrooms the world over. The idea that my words will help transfer these tales to a new generation, fills me with a great feeling of pride.

How to get the stories?

The storybooks from the Ten Tales from Different Cultures are available as individual books, or as a full set, through the IB store. These storybooks have additional teaching and learning notes for classroom activities that are freely downloadable.

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13 Responses to The power of storytelling

  1. MONICA ESCUDERO 19 September 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    Thanks for the information.
    We have a unit in which we talk about different cultures and would be great if I can those stroies to my children

  2. Staci Saunders 19 November 2014 at 1:09 am #

    This is great information for all teachers to have and I love that you have classroom activities to go with them that are free downloadables. I would use these stories when we teach our Who We Are planner about cultures around the world.

    • Emily Gonzalez 2 December 2014 at 9:29 pm #

      I think this is great information because it can be used across the curriculum. I think it’s also important for the students to understand that they all have a story to tell about where they come from.

  3. Diane Alexander 30 November 2014 at 2:37 am #

    This is a great resource. I especially like that you considered the IB learner profiles/attitudes when narrowing down your selection.
    Thanks for the information!

  4. Holly caillaud 2 December 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    Very good information. As a foreign language immersion teacher, story telling is so important to bring the culture to life.

  5. holly caillaud 2 December 2014 at 9:18 pm #

    Great resource, especially for a foreign language immersion teacher. Story telling is an essential part of making cultural connections for our students.

  6. Marie-Claude Ouellet 2 December 2014 at 9:47 pm #

    When teaching a second or foreign language, the oral comes before the writing. Thanks for bringing the Ten Tales of Different Cultures to the IB Foreign Language Teachers, and for creating activities that go with them. Not only is it international, but it has a way to get to the individual personality of each IB students by considering the IB learner profiles and attitudes.

  7. Terri Gaskill 2 December 2014 at 9:50 pm #

    We are starting a new planner in a few weeks and it’s called “Tell a Tale” with the central idea being “People communicate through expression.” Your collection of stories would be PERFECT for this planner. I hope to be able to order it from the IB store.

  8. Candice Phillips 4 December 2014 at 12:00 am #

    Story-telling is such a vital part of teaching. Often times a story can convey a concept in a way that no other lesson can. I am excited about collecting different resources that will add international minded ness to my story collection.

  9. Kristine Veltri 16 December 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    Thank you for Sharing these great stories. Sharing stories is my favorite part of the school day and I think it’s my students’ favorite as well. I am excited to share these ten tales with my students!

  10. Ellen Davis 30 December 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    I loved the way that you choose the stories. Being able to link the profiles and attitudes to global stories really elevates a child’s global awareness.

  11. Toni Wheeler 16 January 2015 at 10:38 pm #

    I love the way you and your husband are sharing, and retelling stories to children and adults. Your book is a wonderful resource to have to share and read to students to teach them voice and point of view.

  12. Anna Hodge 16 January 2015 at 10:42 pm #

    The art of storytelling brings cultures together and gives students a unique way to share their perspectives. Honoring the footsteps of the past ensures the connection of the footsteps of the future. Loved the article

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