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The power of storytelling

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

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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