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Stories and Story-Telling 


Moral and Religious Education 







Professor of Pedagogy in the Hartford School of 
Religious Pedagogy 





Entered at Stationers' Hall, London 

All rights reserved 

Published February I, 1910 






MORE and more, in these days, the leaders of educa- 
tional thought are coming to recognize the significance 
of nature's informal means of training her children. 
Modern psychology finds in natural play a more valu- 
able means of education than any pedagogical device 
ever formulated by a professional teacher, and points 
out that it is such because it is nature's own, because it 
leads to expression the mental and physical powers of 
the child and youth precisely as they mature, and in 
the exact ways that ages of racial experience have shown 
to be most valuable to man. So it begins to recognize 
in story-telling the earliest, the simplest, and so far as 
moral influence is concerned, the most universally effect- 
ive means of impressing upon a new generation the les- 
sons that have been learned by those who have gone 

It has no charm of novelty, but it is only the shallow 
mind that discredits the old because it is old. Nature is 
chief of all conservatives. The things that had large 
influence in shaping man's individual nature or his 
social customs she never wholly discards. Man's old- 
est possessions are the really indispensable ones. The 
traits that served the race in its infancy are the ones 
that mark the unfolding life of every child, and though 
they may withdraw themselves from casual notice dur- 
ing the active years of maturity the fact that they 
again force themselves into prominence in old age 
and are the last to fail in the final dissolution is evi- 
[ vii ] 


dence that, unnoticed, they have served their purpose 
during the intervening years. 

Such a place as this story-telling has in the education 
of the race. Long before teachers or text-books appeared 
instruction was given in story form to the children who 
gathered about the mother's knee. Youths, grouped 
about their elders before the evening camp-fire, thrilled 
to the story of old deeds of valor and braced their souls 
to vie with the heroes who had won the admiration 
of their fathers' fathers. Modern mothers, not knowing 
why they do it, use the same magic to gain the same 
ends. The great German prophet of childhood gave the 
story a large and honored place in the rarely wise and 
successful institution which he founded. From time 
to time prophet and sage, preacher and statesman have 
made it their tool for the shaping of human conduct and 

So instinct and genius have made it their method in the 
past. Now, perhaps more consciously and thoughtfully 
than ever before, teachers are seeking to make it a part 
of their equipment. In the field of moral and religious 
education this movement is beginning to be felt, yet not 
as deeply or as widely as it should be. The Sunday, 
school, our special institution for moral and religious 
culture, has not made as large use of the method as has 
the home and the public school (at least in the kinder- 
garten), and in all three of these institutions what has 
been attempted has been chiefly with the younger chil- 
dren. With such it is almost the only method to be used. 
With the older pupils other means of influence are avail- 
able, but this one never loses its power if it be used with 
tactful adaptation to changing interests and motives. 
It has its large place in dealing with the adolescent, 
and with the adult as well. 

These brief chapters have been prepared with the 
[ viii ] 


desire to aid parents, teachers, and workers in settle- 
ments, vacation schools, and less formal agencies of moral 
education who are as yet unskilled in the use of stories. 
The instruction given is designedly elementary in its 
nature, and always keeps in mind the aim of character- 
building. The plans suggested are offered with less of 
diffidence because they have been tested in the class- 
room for a number of years with satisfactory results. 
More than a few, some of whom had never attempted 
to tell a story, have under their guidance developed un- 
usual skill as story-tellers, both as entertainers and as 

The writer has sought to acquaint himself with the 
readily accessible literature of the subject and with 
the desire to be helpful rather than to be original has 
availed himself of helpful suggestions wherever he found 
them. He desires especially to mention his personal 
indebtedness to Dr. Walter L. Hervey's Picture Work. 
The fact that no adequate discussion of the use of 
stories for purposes of moral and religious education has 
yet appeared is sufficient justification of the present 
modest effort. 

The chapters may be read in a few hours, and it is 
hoped not wholly without profit to those who have al- 
ready served their apprenticeship. To those who use 
the book in that way the writer offers no apology for hints 
at the close of each chapter which savor of the text- 
book; for beginners, for whom it is especially designed, 
can not afford to omit study and persistent practise. 

Since story-telling always implies an audience, co- 
operative work will be especially helpful. A teacher- 
training class or a story club will afford opportunity 
for mutual observation and criticism and for discussion 
and exchange of story material, and will multiply the 
value of study of the book. One of the best means of 


securing such an opportunity is through the organization 
of a local branch of the National Story-Tellers' League, 
information concerning which may be obtained by 
addressing The Story Hour, a magazine which is devoted 
to its interests, at 3320 Nineteenth Street, N. W., Wash- 
ington, D. C. 

In such groups parents, Sunday-school and public 
school teachers, kindergartners, and young people often 
unite with advantage to all. After the first meetings, 
which should be made as easy as possible for the begin- 
ners, programs may be arranged which will lead the mem- 
bers into new fields and enlarge their repertories as their 
skill increases. In such a scheme successive meetings 
might be devoted, for example, to modern fairy-tales, 
hero stories, Norse myths, folk-tales of the East, Christ- 
mas stories, myths and folk-tales of the American In- 
dians, humorous stories, love stories, stories of the 
medieval saints, Thanksgiving stories, animal stories, 
fables, stories from history, etc. The interests of the 
members would determine the selection of the topics 
and their grouping in an orderly way. 

In every group so formed the writer wishes that he 
might have a listener's place. 












XI. How TO USE STORIES ...... 78 



The child* s thirst for stories y has it no significance, and 
does it not lay a responsibility upon us ? 


Stories and Story- Telli 


Moral and Religious Education 



ALL the world loves a story, but, after all, few have 
learned to take story-telling seriously. Every heart 
responds to the charm of a well-told tale, but even among 
teachers comparatively few have realized that usually 
there are moral forces among those feelings that are 
stirred. When stories have been told for any purpose 
beyond that of mere entertainment, commonly it has 
been as the first step in literary training, or simply to 
call back the wandering attention of the pupil to a lesson 
that is essentially dull. Still, such stories as have been 
used have had their secret influence, and character has 
been shaped for good or ill. In every age, however, 
really great teachers who have had character-building 
as a conscious aim have known the value of the story 
and have made it a most effective means of shaping 
the lives of both old and young. Jesus, Plutarch, the 
monks of the Middle Ages, Froebel, and the kinder- 
gartners of to-day have not failed of accomplishing 
their aim. 

" Good story-telling is the best intellectual quali- 
fication of the teacher," our greatest educationist has 
said. If he had the teacher of children in mind there 
is no exaggeration. Of the teacher of youth and of the 


ilts it is almost equally true, so far as 
.aence is concerned. 

- very origin of story-telling was in the teaching 
uipulse. Its chief significance throughout the long past 
of primitive life, when it was almost the only form of 
literature, was certainly educational. Events which 
were fraught with meaning were kept alive in memory 
and handed down from one generation to another 
that they might help to shape the life of youth. In this 
way men gave the warning of the certain penalty which 
nature inflicts upon those who break her laws. So they 
sought to stir the sleeping spirit of hero-worship and 
aspiration. Aside from purely unconscious imitation 
the story is almost the only pedagogical means used 
by primitive men. And as we trace the development 
of human culture we find that it does not lose its place 
in the higher stages. 

Every race has its heritage of folk-tales and myths 
that have a far larger meaning than the mere enter- 
tainment of the young. Scientists study these stories 
of the past with painstaking care, because they reveal 
the genius of the people. Not only do they reflect the 
ideals which have shaped the social and religious life, 
but they have shaped those ideals and have given them 
form and power. As factors in molding character the 
stories of the gods are not less important than the rites 
of worship. 

China, India, Arabia, Japan, honored the story- 
teller; they felt his charm and were molded by his 
magic. For centuries the stories of Homer formed the 
only literary content of education among the Greeks, 
and they kept their place through the succeeding years 
of a culture that we hardly equal to-day. When Roman 
education was at its best, stories of their national heroes 
and statesmen such as we find in Plutarch's Lives formed 
[ 2 ] 


one of the most important parts of the curriculum. How 
largely the Hebrew life was shaped by story a glance 
at the Old Testament will reveal. 

All the long line of skalds, jongleurs, and bards of the 
European peoples were story-tellers in the truest sense. 
All their songs were of the ballad-epic type. Music and 
verse were the adornments of the tale, and indeed 
served a more practical purpose than that, as they were 
an aid to memory before the songs were committed to 
writing a device which many of us remember from 
the days when we sang the multiplication tables in the 
arithmetic class or the Palestine geography song in the 
Sunday-school. The minnesingers and troubadours 
sang chiefly of love and with them versification and 
music came to receive more emphasis. On the other 
hand the minstrels of the age of chivalry with their 
songs of noble deeds were honored for their influence 
upon character, and had a recognized place in the educa- 
tional system of feudalism. 

In our own days and among our own people the story 
still manifests its power. In more lines than one Dickens 
was most effectively a reformer. Uncle Tom's Cabin 
outweighed in influence thousands of sermons and tens 
of thousands of pages of antislavery tracts a generation 
ago. Ramona and Black Beauty have not been without 
their practical influence. Who will dare to say that all 
the books on ethics have influenced American life as 
much as the product of the novelist's pen ? 

From the very first the Christian Church has utilized 
this power. The stories of the Gospels have done in- 
finitely more to influence the lives of men than all the 
books of systematic theology that the Church has pro- 
duced in twenty centuries of time. The stories of the 
saints that arose during the Middle Ages were not with- 
out their meaning and their power. In the midst of bar- 
[ 3 ] 


ren asceticism and scholastic wrangling they kept simple 
faith alive and stirred the longing for fellowship with 
God. The preachers of our own day who have had wide- 
spread popular influence have been those who have not 
scorned the story-teller's art. No one forgets the stories 
of a Moody, a Talmage, or a Spurgeon, and thousands 
have been unable to close their hearts against the mes- 
sages that those stories brought. 

Jesus was a master story-teller. He did not invent 
the parable; the rabbis used it constantly; but so skilful 
was his use of this device that in our thought it is asso- 
ciated almost wholly with his name. As we shall see, 
his stories were marvels of perfection both in form and 
use. When we study them we do not wonder that the 
common people heard him gladly. It is not strange that 
the stories impressed his followers so strongly that many 
of them found place in the record of his life and teaching. 
Nor was it only for those throngs that followed him among 
the hills of Palestine that those stories were voiced. Most 
of us feel that we have gained our clearest and most 
impressive knowledge of his teachings from those 
parables or from the simple account of his life which is 
The Story of the Gospels. When we wish to minister 
to a needy heart we commonly turn to that story of his 
life or to one of those other stories that he told. 

In other ways our own attitude toward the Bible is 
significant. A test as to the extent to which the content 
of the book has impressed itself upon the average mem- 
ber of the Sunday-school will give telling evidence. Ex- 
amine any class, old or young, on the concrete content and 
moral teaching of the book of Genesis; then repeat the 
test with the prophecy of Jeremiah. Or test the knowl- 
edge of I Samuel as compared with that of Isaiah or 
Colossians. The fact that many more of our Sunday- 
school lessons have been chosen from the historical than 
[ 4 ] 


from the prophetical or doctrinal books does not weaken 
the evidence, for that fact must be explained. Few 
would contend that the moral and religious teachings of 
Genesis and I Samuel are higher than those of the 
prophets and apostles. More lessons are chosen from 
those books because they contain more material of real 
educational value for the average mind. They are full 
of stories. The very fact of their selection is a strong, if 
unconscious, tribute to the value of the story as a peda- 
gogical device. 

The loss of a love for stories may be the result of so- 
phistication, but it is not an evidence of wisdom. To 
feel contempt for their use reveals ignorance of the art 
of education. The conscientious teacher will hardly be 
content to say, "I cannot tell a story." He will make 
himself a teller of tales. This is his duty and his oppor- 
tunity, and when he has mastered the simple art it will 
be his joy as well. 


Stories are the oldest form of transmitted culture, and the 
most formative. Richard G. Moulton. 

The household story was the earliest ethical study in the edu- 
cational curriculum of the race. Quoted by Nora Archibald 

Every fairy-tale worth reading at all is a remnant of a tradition 
possessing true historical value; historical at least in so far 
as it has naturally arisen out of the mind of a people under 
special circumstances, and risen not without meaning, nor 
removed altogether from the sphere of religious truth. 
John Ruskin. 

The Pueblo child does not receive commands to do or to 
refrain from doing without the reason for the command being 
given in the form of a story, in which the given action is por- 
trayed with the good or evil resulting to the doer. F. C. 

[ 5 ] 


The narrative which extends from Genesis to Esther is found, 
in its literary analysis, to be an alternation between two forms: 
a framework and connective tissue of history, with the high 
lights and spiritual essence of the whole given by brilliant 
stories. Richard G. Moulton. 

I would rather be the children's story-teller than the queen's 
favorite or the king's counsellor. Kate Douglas Wiggin. 

Let me tell the stories and I care not who writes the text- 
books. G. Stanley Hall. 


Consider what stories that you have heard or read have 
largely influenced your life. Do not overlook any whether long 
or short, whether fiction, biography, history, or the informal 
story of another life. Most stories that have deeply impressed 
you will be found to have had an appreciable influence. 

Ask your acquaintances for similar facts from their own 
experience. If you belong to a story-teller's league or to a club 
or class that is making a study of story-telling, discuss these 
facts freely. Notice how some stories that would now be re- 
jected because of literary imperfections were morally helpful 
to the members during their childhood. 


The value of the story attested by 

a. Its origin. 

b. Its use by many peoples. 

c. Its influence in social reforms. 

d. Its place in Christian teaching. 

e. Its use by Jesus. 

/. Its influence in our own lives. 


Sara Wiltse, The Story in Early Education, pp. 1-3. 
G. Stanley Hall, Sunday-school and Bible Teaching, Pedagogical 
Seminary, Vol. VIII, pp. 448-450. 
[ 6 ] 


Nora Archibald Smith, The Children of the Future, pp. 101-104. 
Ezra Allen, The Pedagogy of Myth in the Grades, Pedagogical 

Seminary, Vol. VIII, pp. 258-277. 
S. B. Haslett, The Pedagogical Bible School, pp. 241-244. 

[ 7 1 



NOTHING, one would think, is less in need of definition 
than a story; yet many fail of success in story-telling 
precisely because they do not know in what a story con- 
sists. Description and exposition are related literary 
forms with which the story is sometimes confused. 

Description deals chiefly with things, and seeks to give 
definiteness of impression by adding details to details. 
The story finds its material in events, and especially 
in action: it presents the movement as flowing toward 
one end and in its impression emphasizes the wholes of 

The purpose of exposition is to make clear by explana- 
tion. Accuracy and orderliness are the essential qualities. 
As in the case of description it lacks the consistent and 
unified action which characterizes the story. 

Both of these forms appear at times in the story, but 
always in a subordinate place. Sometimes substantially 
the same material may be presented in different literary 
forms. For example, the Twenty-third Psalm approaches 
description in its form, though it is expository in its 
nature. William Allen Knight's Song of Our Syrian 
Guest is an exposition of the psalm. Miss Cragin's 
Lost Lamb presents the same general material in story 

The very words suggest that history and story have 
much in common, but they are not the same. History 
[ 8 ] 


is a form of narrative, but it appeals especially to the 
sense of reality and of the connectedness of things. It 
is essentially a record of events that have an importance 
in themselves, and it makes much of their mutual relations 
and their causes and consequences. The story makes its 
appeal chiefly to the imagination and the feelings. Im- 
aginary events can never become history, but certain 
events of history may become story if they are so presented 
as to make their appeal to the feelings. History suggests 
the clashing of nations, the progress of civilization, 
successive changes through long periods of time. The 
story implies unity, completion, and limitation to a 
comparatively narrow field. 

A story, then, may be said to be a narrative of true or 
imaginary events which form a vitally related whole, so 
presented as to make its appeal chiefly to the emotions 
rather than the intellect. Each one of these character- 
istics, as we shall see, contributes directly to the power 
of the story as an educational device. 

A closer analysis of the literary form that the story 
takes reveals certain essential elements that are common 
to every tale. All successful story-tellers, though they 
may be untrained, recognize them, and consciously 
or unconsciously observe certain rules in connection with 
their use. Only as the teacher conforms to these natural 
requirements can he effectively use the story as a means 
to an end in moral education. However strong he may 
be in argument or exposition, if he does not appreciate 
these fundamental characteristics of the story, he is at 
as great a disadvantage as the workman who knows the 
qualities of no metals save copper and lead when he is 
asked to shape a tool from steel. 

In every story provision must be made for four ele- 
ments : the beginning, a succession of events, the climax, 
and the end. Each serves its peculiar purpose, and that 
[ 9 ] 


it may do it effectively must be shaped with that end in 

Every story of necessity has a beginning; but though 
it cannot be omitted it may easily be bungled. And it is 
as true of story-telling as of racing that a bad start often 
means a handicap that cannot be overcome. It is be- 
cause so few persons consider the way a story begins a 
matter of importance that so many fail at just this 

The beginning of a story corresponds to the formal 
step of preparation in teaching a lesson. Its function 
is in part to introduce and characterize the leading 
person or persons, and sometimes to provide a back- 
ground for the action. But aside from this preparation 
for the facts of the story it is especially desirable that 
it should arouse interest, and often it adds much to the 
story's power if it gives a hint of the line of thought that 
is to be developed, or if it awakens the kind of feeling 
that the denouement is to stir. 

One invariable rule may guide the novice here, 
the shorter this introductory step, the better, provided 
it accomplishes its purpose. Long explanations are tire- 
some, especially when they are given before there is 
anything to explain. We all remember how we used to 
omit not only the preface and introduction, but as well 
the opening chapters of certain historical novels. If our 
custom has changed, it is because we seek more than 
the story now. Let us not forget that the writer gives 
his audience an option here that one who tells his stories 
cannot. It is safest to assume that the story is what the 
hearer wants. 

In our youthful days we sometimes found stories of 

another sort. How we delighted in those that plunged 

us at once into the midst of excitement and mystery, 

and allowed us to gather by the way as much of explana- 

[ 10 ] 


tion as the progress of the story demanded ! These are 
better models. In such stones as the teacher uses it 
is commonly best to begin where the story does. 

Much that is usually given in the form of introduction 
may better be conveyed by the use of adjectives and 
qualifying phrases or bits of description introduced in 
connection with the action of the story. If it is not pos- 
sible to depend upon this method alone, a very few sen- 
tences will usually suffice for the introductory matter 
if the step has been thoughtfully planned. 

The sequence of events presents the movement of 
the story toward the climax which gives meaning to the 
whole. The great essential is that it shall be orderly, 
presenting the necessary facts step by step, and pre- 
paring for the climax without revealing it in advance. 
Here the beginner is often at fault. The story seems to 
be progressing smoothly when suddenly with evident 
confusion the narrator says, "Oh, I forgot to tell you," 
etc. The loss is not simply in artistic effect. Attention 
is directed to this particular item; it is evident that it is 
essential, and at once the hearer attempts to foresee the 
end. Whether the attempt is successful or not there 
is a distraction of attention and much of the force of the 
story is lost. 

The climax is that which makes the story; for it all 
that precedes has prepared the way. It is the point 
upon which interest focuses. If a moral lesson is 
conveyed, it is here that it is enforced. Hence failure 
here means total failure. The reason why the "good 
story" sometimes seems so dull when it is related by 
an appreciative hearer is that he has missed the point 
in retelling it. It is for this that the story exists, and 
skill in dealing with it counts more for success than at 
any other point. 

In each story the needs of the particular case will 


determine the mode of procedure, but some general 
hints may be given. The climax must not be missed, for 
without it there is no story. Whatever tends to obscure 
it or weaken its force lessens the story's power. Usually 
it is more impressive if there is something of surprise 
involved; with the humorous story this is absolutely 
essential. If the story is to leave a moral impression, 
the moral lesson must depend upon the climax itself. 

Important as the climax is, if one has the moral aim 
in view the way in which the story is to end needs careful 
consideration. First of all it should appear that the 
story has really arrived at the stopping place. Thus far 
event has succeeded event, and the outcome has been 
in doubt. Until the final issue of a course of conduct 
appears, no effective moral lesson can be based upon it. 

Again, while the attention is centered on an unsolved 
problem there can be no meditation on what has gone 
before. The nickel novel that closes with the hero cling- 
ing to a snapping branch that extends over a precipice 
two hundred feet in height does not defeat its purpose, 
for the aim is to sell another book; but if one would 
have a story teach a lesson, the mind must be left at 
rest, ready to turn back and think again of the deeper 
meaning of the tale. This ending of a story, however, 
must not be confused with the appending of a " moral ": 
that would serve to put an end to the interest of the hearer 
rather than to the action of the tale. 

Every good model enforces the rule that is indicated 
above. The fairy-tale ends with the classic phrase, 
" And they lived happily ever after." In the average 
novel it is when the villain dies and the hero wins his 
bride that the story ends. True, there may be a strenuous 
life awaiting the wedded pair, but " that is another story." 

Sometimes the amateur's story wanders on and on 
simply because he feels that it has not come to an end. 


It is related that a child developed remarkable skill 
as a story-teller, except that she did not know how to 
stop. When the climax had been successfully passed she 
would add inconsequential details because, while she 
had nothing more to say, she felt that the story had not 
ended. At last she discovered an effectual way of bring- 
ing her stories to a close, and in future they ended with 
some such formula as this, " And one beautiful 
morning, as they were walking down the path to the 
front gate, they all died." 

Most of us have at times wished that certain of our 
acquaintances had as keen and true a sense of the fitness 
of things as this child. Teachers who lack this instinct 
can improve their work by thoughtfully planning the 
story's end. In a short story in which few characters 
appear the climax may itself form the fitting close, 
but often a sentence or two must be added to give the 
sense of completion that enables the story to do its 

To summarize, every good story must have a beginning 
that rouses interest, a succession of events that is orderly 
and complete, a climax that forms the story's point, 
and an end that leaves the mind at rest. Or, to put it 
in another way, the story has a hero, action, a plot, and 
a solution. 

The power quickly and accurately to analyze a story 
into these essential elements is the most fundamental and 
the most important part of the story-teller's theoretical 
training, it offers the certain means of determining 
whether a story is worth telling at all. It makes its reten- 
tion by the memory a comparatively simple matter. It 
makes it easy to condense a story that is too long, and 
facilitates the successful expansion of one that is too 
brief. The importance of persistent drill in the perform* 
ing of this process can hardly be over-emphasized. 
[ 13 ] 


The chief reason why some people cannot tell stories is because 
they have no story to tell. Anna Buckland. 

Historical narrative, for instance, usually has an explanatory 
purpose; it does not merely recite certain events; it explains 
their sequence, their relations, their causes and effects. 

We read Robinson Crusoe or Ivanhoe or Mrs. Gaskell's 
Cranford or Stevenson's Treasure Island, not for information, 
but in order to be stirred or aroused. Gardiner, Kittredge, and 

Merely to string a series of incidents together is not to tell a 
story. Much of the effect of the story depends upon the group- 
ing of the incidents; the setting of the telling points in strong 
light and duly subordinating minor details. Marvin R. 

The essential thing in narrative is to make something happen. 
Gar 'diner , Ktttredge, and Arnold. 


Study carefully half a dozen or more of good stories, analyzing 
them to determine the essential elements as indicated above. 
First of ail decide what forms the climax. It will be difficult 
for the beginner to do this in some cases, but he should persist. 
Discuss difficult points at the story club or with your friends. 
Note the series of events leading up to the climax. Could any 
of them be omitted ? Is this order necessary ? Note the way 
in which the story is introduced and the way it ends. Could 
either beginning or ending be improved ? Practise on condens- 
ing stories without omitting any essential points. Write out 
some short story from memory and then compare your version 
with the original, as to the way in which these four elements 
are dealt with in each case. 


I. The story distinguished from 
a. Description. 

[ HI 


b. Exposition. 

c. History. 

2. The elements of the story: 

a. The beginning. 

b. The action. 

c. The climax. 

d. The end. 


Gardiner, Kittredge, and Arnold, Manual of Composition and 
Rhetoric, pp. 5-78. 

Richard G. Moulton, The Art of Telling Bible Stories. Report 
of Second Convention of the Religious Education As- 
sociation, p. 26. 

Sara Cone Bryant, How to Tell Stories, pp. 57-82. 

C 15 ] 



THE stories which we may use for purposes of moral 
and religious education may be grouped in two great 
classes, with several subdivisions under each. These 
classes may be distinguished as the idealistic and the 
realistic stories. The first group includes those that are 
recognized as imaginary in origin or which take liberties 
with facts, but which embody and set forth principles or 
truths ; the second is made up of those that are or profess 
to be strictly conformed to fact. The two kinds of 
stories make their impressions upon the moral nature in 
somewhat different ways, and that they may be most 
helpful the distinction between them must be kept 
clearly in mind by the teacher and certain points must 
be guarded in the use of each. 

Because they are untrue to fact many of the first 
group are often considered unsuitable for use bythe teacher 
of morals, but a very little thoughtful consideration will 
show that they have great moral value, and that a large 
part of their special power is due to this very character- 
istic. The departure from prosaic and temporary fact 
is that the ideal and eternal truth may be more strongly 
emphasized. Events are related that could not possibly 
have happened, but it does not follow that the tale must 
have a vicious influence. 

Among the important forms of idealistic stories are 
fairy- and folk-tales, myths, legends, fables, and alle- 
[ 16] 


gories. Most of these have a moral content, and indeed 
a moral aim was usually responsible for their origin. 
The others should be discarded by the teacher of morals, 
or should be carefully edited with the moral aim in mind. 

Most fairy-tales and folk-tales, whether they are 
modern in origin or, as is true with most of the children's 
favorites, have come down to us from a very distant 
past, have this distinctly moral quality, which appears 
in the fact that virtue is rewarded and wrong-doing 
receives its punishment. This, the critic will object, 
is true of real life as well. So much may be granted, 
but we must remember that " the mills of God grind 
slowly," and that frequently the child is unable to trace 
the relation between cause and effect in such cases. 

Nature's penalties are sure, but often one must wait 
a lifetime to see their completion, while sometimes it 
is upon the next generation that they fall most heavily. 
When the retribution falls it is often of a kind that the 
child or untutored adult cannot appreciate in advance. 

In fairy-land, on the other hand, penalty quickly, 
follows offense, and is of a kind that strongly appeals to/ 
the motives that influence a child. Hence oftentimes a< 
fairy-tale points a moral more effectively than a story 
drawn from real life. If there is a valid principle back 
of the lesson taught there is no danger of moral loss 
when the child reaches the critical age, unless the story 
has been presented as one of the realistic type. Children 
find as much pleasure in stories which they know are the 
product of another's fancy as they do in playthings which 
by the power of their Own imagination they transform 
into something very different from what they are. 

A myth is in its origin an idea which has been clothed 

with a poetic garb of fiction. While it is an interpretation 

of some phenomenon of nature, it is an explanation in 

terms of human motives -and hence has a moral content. 

t '7 ] 


It is an attempt at scientific explanation by those who 
are so unsophisticated as to attribute anthropomorphic 
personality and motives to all objects about them, which 
means that it is really a search for principles underlying 
human conduct. In this sphere the judgments passed are 
usually true and of real importance. 

There is a peculiar charm about the classic myths 
that gives them special teaching power. This is largely 
due to the fact that they appeal to those elemental 
feelings which are common to all men, and which have 
the dominant place in the lives of primitive races and of 
children. There is also a special picturesqueness and 
charm of form which they owe to the fact that they were 
long preserved in oral form before they were committed 
to writing. Handed down for many centuries by word 
of mouth, filtered through the minds of scores of genera- 
tions, they have been subjected to a continual process 
of testing and elimination of elements that do not appeal 
to interest and conform to popular ethical standards until 
a certain measure of perfection of form and content has 
been attained. 

So great is the charm of the Greek myths, for example, 
and so strongly do they appeal to the interests of children 
and youth, that it is with real regret that many teachers 
have put them aside because of the moral imperfections 
of the gods and the polytheistic conceptions with which 
they are filled. They are right in putting the moral and 
religious results above all others that are involved, and, 
from the days of Plato on, many educators have felt 
the same necessity and have reached the same conclu- 
sion. But the rejection of all these stories is not as essen- 
tial as it seems at first thought. The elimination of such 
of the stories as cannot be so edited as to remove accounts 
of the grosser forms of immorality and to emphasize the 
fact that vice and virtue meet their certain rewards meets 
[ 18] 


the ethical requirement. The gods of the Greeks were 
only men of superhuman powers, and the stories of their 
lives have the same educational values as others of the 
ideal type. 

The polytheistic element still remains as an objection 
on the side of religious education, but it may be readily 
overcome. One may introduce the myth by saying, 
" You know, children, that our Father in heaven made 
the earth and everything about us, and that he takes care 
of us all. Many years ago there were people who had 
never heard of this; but when they looked out upon the 
beautiful world and saw the sun rising every morning, 
and the stars shining at night, and the flowers blooming, 
and the fruits ripening in the trees, they knew that some 
one must care for all of these. Since they did not know 
of the one great God who can do all things they thought 
that there must be one god for the sun and one for the 
stars, another for the flowers and still another for the 
fruits. I am going to tell you of some of the things that 
they thought these gods did." When one has finished 
the story he may add, " That is the way they told it 
long ago, but we know that it is really our Father in 
heaven who cares for all the creatures that he has made." 
So the thought of those old days may stir the simple 
religious feelings of the child the wonder and love and 
dread and trust that he shares with the men of that early 
age and that without giving him wrong conceptions 
of God. 

Fables are stories in which animals, plants, and even 
inanimate things are given the characteristics of men, 
that lessons of a moral or utilitarian character may be 
presented in interesting and telling form. They usually 
point out the weaknesses and foibles of men, and are chiefly 
of value for purposes of warning. 

In allegory there is always a meaning which lies be- 
[ 19 ] 


neath the surface of the story, and which is never ex- 
plicitly stated. Usually the story is longer and more 
involved than in the case of fable, and it appeals to more 
highly developed intellectual powers. It may be distin- 
guished from the fairy-tale, the myth, and the legend by 
the fact that throughout the tale there is a substitution 
of one thing for another. For example, a human quality 
or characteristic may be personified as in Pilgrim's 
Progress or George Macdonald's Lilith. Some fables 
and some modern fairy-tales might be classed with 

Legend is story which is based upon fact, but in 
which event or personality has been magnified in the 
process of oral transmission through long periods of 
time. This change is unconsciously made, and usually 
is the result of the tendency to emphasize really impor- 
tant facts or truths. Hence it is usually true that the 
fictitious element is associated with the real point of the 
story and serves to strengthen the high lights and deepen 
the shadows, thus making the story more effective for its 
teaching purpose provided the teacher does not insist 
that it is a relation of fact. Legend helps to bridge the 
gap between the fairy-tale and real history, and to bring 
about the correlation of feeling and fact. 

Stories in which human thought and feeling have 
been attributed to the lives of the lower animals 
have been branded as " sham natural history," and have 
been severely attacked by men of scientific spirit. 
If these are told as realistic stories the criticism is well 
warranted both from the standpoint of natural history 
and from that of pedagogy. But if treated as fiction, 
if presented as fairy-tales and legends should be, 
they may serve a useful purpose in moral edu- 
cation, for they appeal to the spontaneous interests 
of childhood, and they awaken sympathies that tend to 
[ 20 ] 


guide the child's conduct not only toward these creatures 
but toward human beings as well. 

In all the cases cited above, unless it be the last, it 
will be observed that the departure from fact has been 
with the conscious or unconscious aim to set forth a 
truth with greater emphasis. If tactfully used such 
stories need not be misleading. Even a child can realize 
that a story may be fictitious without being false. If 
told with emphasis upon their inner meaning, and with 
no insistence upon literal fact or correctness of detail, 
they will often carry their messages more effectively 
than exact records of the actual happenings of life. So 
the teacher may seek with confidence for valuable ma- 
terial among the stories of this class. 

The one essential for idealistic stories is not that they 
should be true, but that they should clearly and impres- 
sively set forth a truth. 


The story of the Ugly Duckling is much truer than many a 
statement of fact. Sara Cone Bryant. 

There is no more deadly enemy to spiritual truth than prosaic 
literalness. Louise Seymour Houghton. 

Fact is at best but a garment of truth which has ten thousand 
changes of raiment woven in the same loom. George Macdon- 

The genuine fairy-tale always represents, in the play of the 
imagination, a deep moral content; for its root is the poetic side 
of the mind, which clothes a higher truth in visible shapes 
and delivers it in the form of a story. William Rein. 

It is not the gay forms that he meets in the fairy-tale which 
charm the child, but a spiritual, invisible truth lying far deeper. 
Fnednch Froebel. 

The proper function of fancy in intellectual life is spirituality. 
Spiritual truths are hidden in the precious honey of stories. 
- Colonel Parker. 

[21 ] 


There are grown-up people now who say that the (fairy) 
stories are not good for children because they are not true . . . 
and because people are killed in them, especially wicked giants. 
But probably you who read these stories know very well how 
much is true and how much is only make-believe, and I never 
yet heard of a child who killed a very tall man merely because 
Jack killed the giants. ... I am not afraid that you will be 
afraid of the magicians and dragons; besides you see that a 
really brave child was always their master, even in the height 
of their power. Andrew Lang. 

The mere fact that a thing has existed for a thousand or two 
thousand years is not always proof that it is worth preserving. 
But the fact that after having been repeated for two thousand 
years a story still possesses a perfectly fresh attraction for a child 
of to-day, does indeed prove that there is in it something of im- 
perishable worth. Felix Adler. 

The moral ideas inculcated by the fables are usually of a 
practical, worldly wisdom sort, not high ideals of moral quality, 
Aiot virtue for its own sake, but varied examples of the results 
cf rashness and folly. This is, perhaps, one reason why they 
are so well suited to the immature moral judgments of chil- 
dren. Charles A. McMurray. 

The peculiar value of the fables is that they are instantaneous 
photographs, which reproduce, as it were, in a single flash of 
light, some one aspect of human nature, and which excluding 
everything else, permit the entire attention to be fixed on that 
one. Felix Adler. 


Select five of the most popular fairy-tales and carefully study 
their moral influence. If it is harmful note whether the harm 
can be eliminated without weakening the force of the story. 
Study one of the most interesting myths that you know with a 
view to its possible use with children. If it seems suitable, 
try it and note the effect. Study Hawthorne's Wonder Tales 
and Kingsley's Greek Heroes to aid in adaptation. Re-examine 
^Esop's fables and test their value with children and adults. 
Recall your attitude toward Pilgrim's Progress. At what 
[ 22 ] 


age was it most interesting ? Did you at that time realize 
its allegorical meaning ? Study one or two of the legends of the 
saints and one or two of the King Arthur stories, and test their 
value with youth and adults. 


1. The nature of idealistic stories. 

2. The source of moral influence in 

a. The fairy-tale. 

b. The myth. 

c. The fable and allegory. 

d. The legend. 

3. The danger point in the use of idealistic stories. 

4. The one essential pedagogical requirement. 


Felix Adler, The Moral Instruction of Children, Chapters 6, 7, 
8, and 10. 

Edward Howard Griggs, Moral Education, pp. 236-247. 

Anna Buckland, The Use of Stories in the Kindergarten, pp. 

Sara Cone Bryant, How to Tell Stories, pp. 13-25. 

Alexander F. Chamberlain, Folk Lore in the Schools, Pedagogi- 
cal Seminary, Vol. VII, pp. 347-356. (Includes bibliog- 



STORIES from history and biography, personal remi- 
niscences, true stories of animals, and all others that profess 
to be accounts of actual happenings belong to this class. 
They have a special value because besides suggesting 
a principle they also indicate how it may receive specific 
application in life. The deeds of the Christian martyrs 
and of the modest heroes of every-day life have a certain 
power which is beyond that of the most beautiful myth. 
The story of what Jesus did means more than all the 
visions of all the prophets. It is only because we cannot 
always find true stories that enforce the desired lesson 
effectively that those which are the product of the imagi- 
nation are sometimes preferred. 

In these studies attention was directed to the idealistic 
stories first because they often furnish better examples 
of the story type. Because they are stories from the first, 
and only stories, they are less likely to be complicated 
with other literary forms. The fact that our realistic 
stories are often taken from history, biography, or natu- 
ral history tends to favor the retention of facts that are 
not of value for our use, or leads to undue emphasis 
upon what should have only an incidental or subordinate 

Hence we must carefully guard the selection of material 
in planning a story of this type. A narration of facts 
is not necessarily a story. Here, as with stories of the 
other type, there must be a beginning, a succession of 



events, a climax, and an end. The facts must be so pre- 
sented as to make the appeal to the emotions; and es- 
pecially the unity of the story must be observed. One 
choice must be traced to its result, one act to its out- 
come, one germinal impulse to its fruition. Each life is 
compounded of a thousand elements that will never 
appear in just that combination again; hence no man 
can order his life after another. But the story brings 
before the hearer one of the little entities which make up 
the complex. Certain elements, common to all lives, 
are isolated that they may speak their message to every 
mind and heart. Separated from the many non- 
essential or less significant circumstances, the lesson 
of one slowly growing passion or one unconsidered deed 
stands clearly forth. 

Valuable as realistic stories are, if the really significant 
facts are emphasized and the non-essential elements are 
eliminated, there is one caution that the teacher of morals 
must always keep in mind when they are used. If such 
stories are to be effective, they must not only be true 
but must seem to be true. It is not the startling and 
unusual, but rather that which does not test credulity that 
is impressive here. 

In the idealistic story, which does not pretend to be 
true, the wildest extravagances may really add to its 
effectiveness, but when a story which claims to be true 
stirs a doubt in the hearer's mind, that element of dis- 
trust tends to be carried over to the lesson which it is 
designed to impress. An illustration will be more con- 
vincing than many arguments. The author of a popular 
book on personal religion emphasizes the necessity of 
keeping heart and mind in touch with God if the life 
is to possess spiritual power. In presenting the thought 
he uses an illustration which describes a town in the arid 
region of Colorado. 

[ 25 ] 


" Some enterprising citizens," he says, " ran a pipe up 
the hills to a lake of clear, sweet water. As a result the 
town enjoyed a bountiful supply of water the year round 
without being dependent upon the doubtful rainfall. And 
the population increased and the place had quite a Western 
boom. One morning the housewives turned the water 
spigots, but no water came. . . . The men climbed the 
hill. There was the lake as full as ever. They examined 
around the pipes as well as possible, but could find no 
break. Try as they might they could find no cause 
for stoppage. And as the days grew into weeks, people 
commenced moving away again, the grass grew in the 
streets, and the prosperous town was going back to its 
old sleepy condition when one day one of the town offi- 
cials received a note. It was poorly written, with bad 
spelling and grammar, but he never cared less about 
writing and grammar than just then. It said in effect: 
' Ef you'll jes' pull the plug out of the pipe about eight 
inches from the top you'll get all the water you want/ 
Up they started for the top of the hill, and examining the 
pipe, found the plug which some vicious tramp had in- 
serted. . . . Out came the plug; down came the water 
freely; by and by back came prosperity." 

Having read the illustration, analyze your own mental 
reaction to it. The message which the author is trying to 
teach is an important one, but many will feel that its 
force is greatly weakened by the way in which it is pre- 
sented. Every intelligent person knows that no town 
was ever abandoned for so trivial a reason that 
within twenty-four hours such a difficulty would have been 
located and relieved. This feeling that the author is 
vouching for a fiction, a sham, is naturally carried over 
from the illustration to the religious truth. Or, if this is 
not the case, there may be a subtler effect a feeling 
that a writer who will use so unsuitable an illustration 


has hardly mastered the truth himself, and so is not 
qualified as a teacher. 

Beside this put Jesus' illustration of the same truth: 
" As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it 
abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in 
me. I am the vine, ye are the branches." The effective- 
ness of the latter illustration is not simply because it 
deals with facts; the stories of Dives and Lazarus and 
of the Prodigal Son are as effective whether they are bits 
of actual biography or not. The weakness of the first 
illustration is not because it is untrue, but because what is 
manifestly untrue is vouched for as fact. Much of this 
unfortunate effect would have been avoided had the writer 
used the incident as an idealistic story, that is, if he had 
introduced it by saying, " They tell in the West a story 
which is exceedingly improbable, but which clearly 
illustrates my thought." 

So important is it that the realistic story should carry 
the air of reality that the teacher may sometimes be led 
to present as if it were imaginary a story which he 
knows to be true, or at least to ignore the question of his- 
torical accuracy if it is doubted by the class. Surely it is 
folly to sacrifice the opportunity to enforce an important 
truth by insisting upon non-essential fact. A teacher 
may spend thirty-five minutes in attempting to demon- 
strate that the story of Jonah and the fish is of the realistic 
type, and still fail to convince his class. Another, ig- 
noring that question, may center attention on the relig- 
ous significance of the story, and so enforce a lesson that 
is of the greatest importance to his pupils in their daily 
lives. Jesus' teachings in the twelfth chapter of Matthew 
and the eleventh chapter of Luke are just as clear and 
just as impressive to those who believe that the story 
of Jonah is a parable. 

It is in the realization of these differences in the nature 

[ 27 ] 


and pedagogical use of idealistic and realistic stories 
that the teacher finds help toward the solution of the prob- 
lem of how to use the early Old Testament stories in the 
religious instruction of children, in view of the con- 
clusions of modern Biblical scholarship. So largely 
have the conclusions of historical Bible study become 
a part of the teaching of the pulpit, the theological 
seminaries, and influential religious papers, and so deeply 
have they entered into the thought of the Christian home 
that many a teacher finds real difficulty at this point. The 
subject is introduced here not to make a plea for any 
method of Bible study or for any conclusions that have 
been reached by any school of students, but to aid the 
teacher to a solution of the pedagogical problem that 
arises out of the situation as it is. Those who have 
no difficulties will find no help in the suggestions 

The difficulty arises not simply because the miracu- 
lous appears in these stories, but grows out of the fact 
that in Babylonian, Chaldean, and other records appear 
versions of these same stories which long antedate the 
writing of the Old Testament. In these older versions 
there is a much lower moral tone, and polytheistic con- 
ceptions are universal, yet the correspondence is so close, 
both in content and form, that a common origin is im- 
plied. These facts, together with many discoveries as 
to the history of the peoples mentioned in the Biblical 
records, suggest an uncertainty as to just how we are 
to regard many of the Bible stories on their historical 
side. If they are presented as absolutely correct state- 
ments of fact, and later the child comes to doubt them, 
will he not be likely to lose faith in the Bible as a 
message from God ? In fact, as we all know, this has 
often been the result. What shall the teacher do ? 

The best answer to the question would seem to be 

c 28] 


found by a study of the aims and methods of those who 
first used these stories. From such investigation it at once 
appears that the Old Testament historical books were 
given their present form by prophets who had not a 
historical but a religious aim. Their primary purpose 
was not to teach facts concerning the development of 
the Hebrew nation which facts of course they did not 
have at first hand but to teach that God rules his 
world, and that he punishes sin and rewards righteous- 
ness. Reverent students tell us that these men used these 
stories for the same purpose that a modern preacher 
uses illustrations in his sermon, and that like the preacher 
of to-day they used both the accurate records of history 
and the traditions and stories that had been orally trans- 
mitted from a distant past. If these latter gave perverted 
ideas of God and goodness, they were purged of their 
immorality and made to conform to the prophet's ideal 
of God. The chief aim was not to record past events, 
but effectively to influence future conduct by revealing 
God's relations with men; their concern was not that 
they should be true in a narrowly literal sense the 
prophet may not have known as to that but that they 
should teach The Truth. 

The teacher's part is not necessarily to accept the 
findings of these students, and surely not to teach them 
to the child, but may we not say that it is to use the stories 
for this moral and religious aim ? If the child asks, " Is 
this story true ? " he may, as Mrs. Houghton suggests, 
reply, " Never mind. What is the truth that it teaches ? " 
And if the child responds to the inner meaning of the 
fairy-tale, the myth, and the legend, surely he will to 
the message of these stories that prepared the way 
for the fuller revelation that came in the Christ. Having 
found the meaning of the message he will not be disturbed 
by new conjectures as to its form. Whether one believes 
[29 ] 


in verbal inspiration or not, " the letter killeth, but the 
spirit giveth life." 


What man has done, man can do. Old Proverb. 

Men will not suffer martyrdom for an abstraction. Marvin 
R. Vincent. 

The Old Testament made the Hebrews a peculiar people, 
by developing in them a unique God-consciousness. It will 
do the same for the people of the United States when it is 
freed from overloading convention and unintelligent interpre- 
tation. Louise Seymour Houghton. 

Their main purpose is to make an impression. This is the 
purpose of every story-teller, whether he be inspired or not 
inspired, and therefore, in all story-telling questions of fact fall 
into the background and questions of method take precedence. 

And this is the tragedy of the book of Jonah, that a book which 
is made the means of one of the most sublime revelations of 
truth in the Old Testament should be known to most only for 
its connection with a whale. George Adam Smith ( ?). 

Nature can take liberties with facts that art dare not. E. F. 


Consider the effect upon your mental attitude when a speaker 
describes an incident, of which you read long ago, as a recent 
personal experience; has this a bearing upon the question in 
hand ? When the story of Jonah is mentioned, what are the 
associations which it brings up ? Would they be the same if it 
had been commonly presented as an idealistic story ? Select 
several of the parables of Jesus and try to decide whether or 
not they would be more impressive if you could know that they 
were accurate descriptions of what Jesus had seen. Is there 
any advantage in the use of a realistic rather than an idealistic 
story if it does not directly suggest conduct which you desire 
[ 30 ] 


to secure in the hearer ? From this point of view compare the 
story of the Fail, of the capture of Jericho, and of Jonah and 
the fish with the stories of the boyhood of Jesus, of Jesus and 
the woman taken in sin, and the feast at the house of Simon. 


1. Realistic Stories. 

a. The various kinds. 

b. Their special value. 

c. A danger to be guarded in their use. 

2. The Old Testament Stories. 

a. Difficulties in connection with thek use. 

b. Was the original use idealistic ? 

c. If used in the idealistic way, will they accomplish 
their purpose ? 


Anna Buckland, Uses of Stories in the Kindergarten, pp. 12-14. 
Louise Seymour Houghton, Telling Bible Stories. 

[31 1 



CAREFUL study of good models is one of the best guides 
to success in the story-teller's art. A few hints may serve 
to aid the student to discover the sources of their strength. 
The more clearly these are defined the more easily will 
he make the method of their authors serve him in his 
work before his class. 

Among the qualities that give value to stories that of 
suggestive ness or meaning is among the most important. 
It is surely legitimate to tell stories simply to entertain, 
but when we test them from the point of view of the 
teacher of morals this is invariably the prime requisite. 
If we depend upon the story method in our teaching we 
must be sure that the story has a message for the learner 
and one that cannot be missed. It is not enough that it 
be capable of such an explanation or interpretation that 
a truth may be implied; the moral must be embedded 
or better still, embodied in the story itself, 

In the best stories the narrative and the lesson are so 
fully one that it is impossible to eliminate the last with- 
out destroying the story itself. It is because of this that 
some stories have had such power to influence many gen- 
erations of men, and this explains how a single phrase 
serves to call up their whole significance. The words 
"sour grapes," "dog in the manger," "Damon and 
Pythias," and "the cross" would not be so laden with 
meaning if the teachings of the stories which they bring 
[ 32 ] 


up had been only incidental, instead of the very essence 
of the stories themselves. 

Louise Seymour Houghton calls attention to the great 
superiority of moral influence in the stories of Genesis 
as compared with those of Judges, and explains it by 
showing that in the Pentateuch the old traditions have 
been so worked over that the moral lessons are a part 
of the stories themselves, while the author of Judges 
merely gave them a didactic setting. 

Henry van Dyke's prayer that he may never tag a 
moral to a tale or tell a story without a meaning may well 
be adopted by the teacher. To add a moral application 
to a story is as complete a confession of failure as to 
append an explanation to a joke. 

This statement is, of course, not true where the aim 
is to reveal truth to some and conceal it from others, 
as in some of the parables of Jesus, or where the story 
is purely illustrative, being designed simply to aid the 
intellect to grasp an idea. 

If a good story is well told moralizing is not necessary; 
but that is not all. It has been clearly demonstrated that 
it weakens the moral influence. Psychologists have for- 
mulated the law that the power of normal suggestion 
varies inversely with the extent to which its purpose 
is definitely revealed. The mother who says to a child, 
"Why don't you go out on the lawn and see how many 
dandelions you can pick ? " is likely to secure a period 
of privacy, but if she adds, "so that I can be alone for 
a little while," the result will not be the same. Children 
resent the old-fashioned Sunday-school stories with their 
too obvious moral purpose, but are strongly influenced 
by transcripts of life in which the same duties are clearly 
implied, but not explicitly stated. So adults are often 
more strongly influenced by a play like The Servant in 
the House than by many sermons. 
[ 33 ] 


Usually the story's lesson should be of positive type 
that is, it should set forth what one wishes the hearer 
to do; still stories of warning have their place and many 
of the old favorites are of that kind. The familiar story 
of The Little Half-Chick is an excellent illustration of 
the type. It is entirely legitimate that the story should 
represent the violation of the precept that one would 
enforce, provided it chiefly emphasizes the fact that the 
wrong-doing meets a punishment which far overbalances 
the pleasure gained. The story still has its unmistakable 
moral meaning. Some painful stories are saved from 
immorality by the sad ending. 

Admitting the supreme importance of the story's moral 
implications, one realizes that much otherwise attractive 
material must be rejected by the teacher. A considerable 
number of the old fairy-and folk-tales in which success 
follows dishonesty or unjustifiable selfishness at once 
come to mind. As in the case of the classic myths some 
of these can be so edited as to remove the objectionable 
features. In some cases the effort is unsuccessful, as it 
leaves the story so weakened that it is no longer of value. 
No teacher need waste time in such a fruitless attempt. 
A simple test will at once reveal whether such editing 
is possible or not. If the immoral element is essential 
to the climax of the story, the case is hopeless. If, on 
the other hand, it has to do with one of the less essential 
steps which lead up to or down from the vital turning- 
point of the tale, we may confidently hope to reconstruct 
that step without lessening the story's power. Thus we 
have here only the negative statement of the rule already 
affirmed, that the moral lesson should be the very es- 
sence of the story itself. 

Next in importance to the quality of suggestiveness is 
that oLjugity^ Every good story exemplifies it. It im- 
plies limitation to one set of related events, the exclusion 



of unnecessary characters and incidents, emphasis upon 
one moral lesson, and usually, if the story is brief, the 
stirring of one kind of feeling. The story should be a 
logical unit and should be treated as such. 

Here the hand of a master is especially revealed. Some- 
times in the early chapters of an extended novel characters 
are introduced in a bewildering succession. They move in 
varying social strata, different lines of action appear in 
widely separated countries. The reader wonders how 
they can be brought into any relationship with each other, 
but as the plot unfolds the lines steadily converge, and 
when the end comes he finds that each person and each 
event has a natural and an essential place. With such 
a masterpiece compare a book like David Harum, 
which may be used for illustration because it was so 
widely read not long ago. It really consists of a few ex- 
ceptionally good short stories which, in the attempt to 
convert them into a novel, are bound together by a 
thread of romance too weak to bear their weight. We 
all remember David Harum and the horse trade, and 
almost as many of us have forgotten the lay figure who 
passes for a hero, and his inconsequential love affair. 

But it is in the short story that the importance of unity 
most clearly appears. The novice tends to wandering 
and diffuseness, and labors with useless details. He 
fears that to cut out incidents, though they are not really 
essential, would lessen the interest of the tale; but the 
study of the best models reveals the contrary result. 
In them there is, indeed, no lack of incident, but here all 
is significant. Even the choice of a synonym, the turn 
of a phrase, the rhythm of a sentence is part of an artistic 
whole. Such beautiful examples as the charming alle- 
gorical stories of Laura Richards, in using which one 
is almost constrained to memorize lest he change a word, 
were not achieved by chance. They must be the result 
[ 35 ] 


of patient and faithful effort after the choice of a definite 
aim and the selection of a consistent plan which has been 
FO loyally followed that every smallest detail contributes 
to the one impression. 

The parables of Jesus are splendid illustrations. 
Almost without exception they are marvels of unity and 
condensation. The story of the Prodigal Son is excep- 
tional in that it carries a double lesson, but in our use 
of it we commonly ignore the lesser one. Who thinks of 
the elder brother when the story is mentioned ? 

An especially good example is found in the story 
of the rich man in Luke 12:16-20, which is not too 
long to quote in full. "The ground of a certain rich man 
brought forth plentifully: and he reasoned within himself, 
saying, What shall I do, because I have not where to 
bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will 
pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will 
I bestow all my grain and my goods. And I will say to 
my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many 
years; take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry. But God 
said unto him, Thou foolish one, this night is thy soul 
required of thee; and the things which thou hast prepared, 
whose shall they be ?" 

It would be difficult to omit a single word; nor would it 
be easier to expand it without loss of effect. In its unity 
and conciseness its strength largely lies. The Bible 
stories generally, the fables of ^Esop, and indeed most of 
the old classics, as well as the best modern examples, 
show the same characteristic. It is a safe rule which 
declares that what does not further the story's specific 
aim really lessens its power. 

Some apparent exceptions will upon careful study be 
found to enforce the rule. Uninteresting characters 
are introduced that the hero's qualities may be more 
effectively set forth. Descriptions of natur?! scenery 



not only give a local setting to the events, but may also > 
be used to stir the feelings which forecast an approach- 
ing climax. Trivial happenings may reveal motives 
upon which the whole plot of the story turns. 

That this second principle reenforces the first is clearly 
apparent. If a story really has a meaning, the more 
closely the principle of unity is followed the less will be 
the tendency to supplement ineffective story-telling by 

"Do not make the story taper toward a single point, 
the moral point," says Felix Adler, but without doubt it 
is the moralizing habit that he has in mind. Really the 
principle of unity implies just that, though it is not to 
be advertised or revealed in advance. It is the clumsy 
and mechanical way in which it is often done that we 
must avoid. Given certain characters and certain situa- 
tions, the outcome is practically sure. In life the moral 
is always present; the story should simply present such 
facts as will permit it to appear. |\ 

A third important characteristic of the effective story K 
is action. It has been said that the story is a transcript Vy 
oiTiie7and in real life it is the things that are done that \\ 
count. It is true that thought and feeling are the virgin 
ore, but they do not pass current until they have been 
coined into deeds. Words at best stand in the relation 
of a paper currency, and too often one that is unduly 
inflated. We distrust the sincerity of the man who talks 
much about his feelings. Tell us what he does and we 
can draw our own conclusions. So the story is most 
effective which presents life in the concrete and permits 
the hearer to make his own interpretation. 

Miss Vostrovsky's suggestive study shows that in young 

children the interest in what was done leads all others, 

and that they put several times as much emphasis upon 

action as upon moral qualities, sentiment, feeling, es- 

[ 37 ] 


thetic details and dress combined, while the thoughts of 
the actors received no mention at all. It is well known 
that adolescent boys demand " something doing " in 
their books, and in adults interest in action has hardly 

Again the best models reveal appreciation of these 
facts. A single example must suffice. Dr. Hervey has 
called attention to this in connection with one of the 
parables of Jesus. The one quoted above is a still better 
example. Of its one hundred and seven words, thirty- 
three are verbs. Its movement compels our interest. 

Miss Vostrovsky's study does not show that children 
do not respond to moral instruction, but that if the lessons 
are to be effective they must be put in terms of life. It 
is not otherwise with men. Ages ago the law said, This do, 
and thou shalt live, and men broke the law and paid its 
penalty. Then came Jesus, living a life, and saying, 
Follow me; and what the law could not do because it 
was weak, the story of the gospel has accomplished. 

It takes life to influence life, and life is action. 


Avoid moralizing, for if a story is good enough to tell it will 
do its own teaching. Carnegie Library, Pittsburg. 

A story should move with directness and force, like an arrow 
to its mark. Gardiner, Kittredge, and Arnold. 

The normal boy would rather read of a good boy than of a 
bad one, if the good one will only do something. He will have 
action, good or bad. Warren F. Gregory. 

Explanation and moralizing are mostly sheer clutter. 

Every epithet or adjective beyond what is needed to give the 
image is a five-barred gate in the path of the eager mind traveling 
to a climax. Sara Cone Bryant. 

The true artist never thrusts his purpose upon you in awkward 
fashion, but it pervades his whole work as the soul does the 
body. E. F. Andrews. 

[ 38] 


Make a careful study along the lines indicated above of at 
least half a dozen good short stories. Choose them from 
different sources, such as the Bible, Homer, ^Esop, Grimm's or 
Lang's Fairy-Tales, Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, Laura 
Richards, and some of the best recent novelists and magazine 
writers. Note where their moral influence lies. Compare them 
with one of the old-fashioned Sunday-school stories. Study 
especially the way in which the principle of unity is applied. 
Find the most interesting passages and observe to what extent 
action appears at those points. Seek for other sources of 
interest and strength than those mentioned above. Choose 
familiar stories for the most part that you may discuss them 
with your friends or at the normal class or story club. 


1. Suggestiveness. 

a. Its vital relation to the story's climax. 

b. The danger of pointing the moral. 

c. The positive and the negative forms. 

2. Unity. 

a. Its meaning. 

b. How attained. 

c. The parables as illustrations. 

3. Action. 

a. The source of its influence. 

b. Its place in good models. 

c. It is life that is influential. 


Gardiner, Kittredge, and Arnold, Manual of Composition and 

Rhetoric, pp. 32-34. 

Walter L. Hervey, Picture Work, pp. 31-63. 
Clara Vostrovsky, A Study of Children's Own Stories, Studies in 

Education, Vol. I, pp. 15-17. 

[ 39 ] 



CERTAIN devices are so commonly used by good 
story-tellers, and are so effective in adding interest to 
the story itself, that we overlook them in our enjoyment 
of the tales. We respond to their influence, but do not 
analyze sufficiently to realize just what gives the peculiar 
charm or force to the story that we enjoy. That it is 
more than the story itself we realize as soon as we listen 
to a favorite tale rehearsed without the omission of any 
essential element by one who lacks instinctive taste or 
the skill that training gives. 

For the most part these devices are simply successful 
methods of applying principles that have been suggested 
in connection with the discussion of the story itself. 
They are so simple that any one who can tell a story at 
all can so use them as to add largely to the value of his 
work, while at the same time they afford opportunity 
for the display of the finest taste and the most perfect 

One of the most important of these literary devices is 
the use of direct rather than indirect discourse. Through 
its use a certain vivacity of style is gained, and it adds 
movement and lifelikeness to the tale. There is no easier 
way to give the semblance of reality to an imaginary 
tale than by letting the characters speak for themselves. 
The personality of the narrator is less intrusive, and the 
effect upon the hearer is that of looking on at a scene in 
[ 40 ] 


real life. On the other hand, in the most literally pro- 
saic tale characters who are not permitted to do their 
own talking seem but half alive. 

Here as at many other points the parables of Jesus 
are splendid models. Note the story of the unrighteous 
steward in Luke 16. " There was a certain rich man, 
who had a steward; and the same was accused unto him 
that he was wasting his goods. And he called him, and 
said unto him, What is this that I hear of thee ? render the 
account of thy stewardship; for thou canst be no longer 
steward. And the steward said within himself, What 
shall I do, seeing that my lord taketh away the steward- 
ship from me ? I have not strength to dig; to beg I am 
ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am 
put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their 
houses. And calling to him each one of his lord's debtors, 
he said to the first, How much owest thou unto my lord ? 
And he said, A hundred measures of oil. And he said 
unto him, Take thy bond, and sit down quickly and 
write fifty," etc. Translate this into indirect discourse 
and how much of interest and force is lost! It will 
be a description of life, indeed, but here it is life itself. 

An illustration of unconscious appreciation of the 
value of this method of emphasizing life and action in a 
story is found in the " Says I " and " Says he " of the 
illiterate person who defeats his end only because he 
needlessly obtrudes upon the hearer the device which he 

The beginner in formal story-telling is almost sure, 
probably because of embarrassment and undue conscious- 
ness of his own personality, to fall into the way of describ- 
ing at long range the most interesting movement of his 
tale, instead of by this plan literally reproducing the parts 
of it which most fully reveal the personality of the leading 
characters. A glance at almost any example from our 

[41 ] 


best writers of short stories will reveal illustrations of 
the method. The secret of its value is easily discovered. 
In indirect discourse you are necessarily conscious of 
the personality of the narrator; in direct discourse it is 
the personality of the actor that is stressed. 

Jy Another very helpful device is the rhythmic repetition 
of certain significant words or phrases from time to 

] time through the progress of the tale. In the fairy- and 
folk-tales this frequently appears, as in case of the 
" hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick " of the little half chick, 
the " trip-trop, trip-trop " of the three goats crossing 
the bridge, and the various remarks of the big bear, the 
middle-sized bear, and the little wee bear. In such cases 
the story gains an added quaintness of form which has 
value in itself. The little child, puzzled by much that 
is unfamiliar, remembers the rhythmic phrase and wel- 
comes it as we greet an old friend in a strange city. It 
has a further value, too, for the repetition of a descriptive 
phrase serves to identify a person or to point out identity 
of action or of feeling. Indeed it has, as Dr. Hervey 
has said, precisely the meaning of the leit motif in music. 
The child follows the story more readily and masters 
its meaning more surely. 

The artistic story-teller will use this device with great 
effectiveness and power. He will carefully choose the 
repeated phrase that it may suggest the denouement 
and point the lesson of the tale. So in the story of Blun- 
derhead, the thunder that first rumbles, then rolls, and 
finally crashes overhead prepares for the approaching 
climax. In several of the Psalms, notably in 46, 103, 1 18, 
and 147, unity is emphasized and the meaning is clarified 
by such a device. The poets use it frequently. Kip- 
ling's " A rag and a bone and a hank of hair " more- 
than hints at the conclusion from the first, and indelibly 
impresses the lesson, while the Recessional affords a 

[42 ] 


pleasanter example of a device which in slightly dif- 
ferent form may add much to the impressiveness of a 

Some of the old stories in which action predominates 
and conversation is brief but very significant give the 
speeches in verse. This appeals to the child's interest 
as well as to the folk-mind, and in somewhat the same 
way as in case of the rhythmic repetition mentioned 
above. This device has been adopted by some of the 
best German writers of children's stories, and is very 
largely used by some of the most successful kinder- 
garten story-tellers. It is not as difficult to introduce 
this feature into the stories that we tell young children 
as it might at first seem, for they do not demand rigid 
formality in either rhyme or meter. 

In oral stories for children, and usually in the case of 
adults as well, the simplest grammatical constructions 
are preferable. In complex sentences words must be 
carried in memory and thought held in suspense until 
the end is reached. The use of short sentences and the 
avoidance of inverted forms except for special emphasis 
enables the listener to devote his whole attention to the 
story itself and this means that it gains added power. 
For the same reason the terse Anglo-Saxon words are 
to be preferred. Colloquialisms are as appropriate 
in most stories as technical terms are in a scientific 
treatise. In short, whatever tends to shift attention 
from the form to the story itself, and to make that a faith- 
ful transcript of life is to be commended. 

Not only is action rather than thought to be empha- 
sized, but whatever gives concreteness to the presentation 
is of value. An argument can be framed from abstrac- 
tions, but the very conception of the story brings it into 
the field of realities of another sort. Even the choice 
of words and the use of figures that are based on material 
[43 ] 


existences tend to increase the feeling of reality that the 
story should always convey. 

Another characteristic of a good style is worthy of 
special mention. This is brevity. Toward it most of the 
suggestions already given point. The principle of unity 
suggests it, the emphasis upon action and concrete 
statements favors it, and the choice of simple and 
straightforward language tends toward the same result. 
In exposition something of repetition and reiteration of 
fact are often appropriate, but not so in the story, lest 
movement and force be sacrificed. 

Here again all the Bible stories are models to be fol- 
lowed. As retold by the teacher or preacher who has 
neglected the art of narration, thought and feeling, as 
well as action, are often buried beneath an excess of 
verbiage. Andrew D. White says, " Dr. Eastburn 
was much given to amplification, and Gilman always 
insisted that he had heard him once, when preaching 
on the parable of Dives and Lazarus, discuss the prayer 
of Dives in torment for a drop of water, as follows : ' To 
this, my brethren, under the circumstances entirely 
natural, but at the same time no less completely inad- 
missible request, the aged patriarch replied,' " etc. It is 
unnecessary to comment on the result of such expansion 
of the story. 

Usually the first draft of the beginner's story needs 
condensation, though this is not always inconsistent with 
a certain amount of subsequent amplification of the really 
vital points. Careful comparison of unskilled work with 
the best models will show that the latter are as re- 
markable for what they omit as for that which they relate. 
A multitude of petty details is both annoying and un- 
necessary. It is safe to assume some power of imagination 
on the part of the listener. 

Another quality which is less commonly desirable is that 
[ 44 ] 


of freshness of form. That children do not object to repeti- 
tion of their old favorites no patient mother or good-natured 
uncle needs to be informed. Even the publishers realize 
that novelty is not essential here, as Dear Old Stories 
Told Once More and Twice-told Tales testify. The little 
child often resents the change of a word or phrase. 
But if a story which is in advance of a child's interest 
is forced upon him, if it is repeatedly told in an unin- 
teresting way, and if too obvious moralizing has been 
associated with it, the child tires of hearing it, and its 
value, if so presented it ever had a value, is lost. If 
now it is allowed to be forgotten for a time, and then is 
presented in such a form that it is not recognized until 
interest has been aroused, it will again gain teaching 
power. Unfortunately many of the Bible stories have 
suffered in just this way. Hence the value of sometimes 
departing entirely from the classic perfection of the King 
James Version to what may be a less finished literary 
form. But if this be done it is but to overcome prejudice 
and let the story do its work. 


Let what he did tell what he was. Walter L. Hervey. 

Bible stories are models in this respect. You are left to read 
as much between the lines as you choose, but the kernel of the 
message is soon revealed. You are in touch with real life from 
start to finish and essentials only are admitted. Samuel B. 

A vigorous style is almost always concise. . . . Good writers 
never encumber their stories with useless matter. They may 
introduce a multitude of details, but every one serves a definite 
purpose. Gardiner, Kittredge, and Arnold. 

There are no stories in any language of the world, which so 
aptly and precisely perform this function as the Bible stories, 
and this for a very simple reason, the language in which they 
[ 45 ] 


were originally written, the Hebrew, like the child's language, 
has no abstract words. All Hebrew words are concrete, just 
as the little child's words are. Louise Seymour Houghton. 

Good story-tellers deal very little in abstractions and are very 
liberal in the use of figures of speech. E. Lyell Earl. 


Try the effect of changing the direct into indirect discourse 
in one of the parables of Jesus, making no unnecessary changes 
in the language. Without telling what you have done read this 
version to a friend who is familiar with the original, and ask for 
criticism. Observe the value of this device in the stories told in 
the club or class. 

Make a list of the familiar stories that repeat significant 
phrases, and tell them to children and adults, noting the interest 
at these points. 

In one or two familiar stories give the conversation in verse, 
and observe the result in the children's interest. If this is too 
difficult, tell a story in which this device is used, but putting the 
conversation in prose. Later use the original version, and study 
the effect. 

If possible visit several kindergartens at the story hour and 
observe both the story-teller and the listeners with these sugges- 
tions in mind. 

Take some story which you have told without special success, 
and after effort to strengthen it along the lines of the suggestions 
above outlined, give it another test. 

Turn to some of the best collections of stories and see to what 
extent these simple rules have been followed and with what 


I. Literary devices of value. 
a. ' Direct discourse. 

b. Rhythmic repetition. 

c. Dialogue in verse. 



2. Further suggestions as to form. 

a. Simplicity of language. 

b. Concreteness in content and form. 

c. Conciseness and brevity. 

d. Freshness of form. 


Kavana and Beatty, Composition and Rhetoric, pp. 75-102. 
Walter L. Hervey, Picture Work, pp. 56-70. 




BECAUSE practise is by far the most important element 
in the preparation of the skilled story-teller it seems best 
to give at this point some specific and detailed suggestions 
to guide the beginner in that phase of his training. These 
hints are based on principles that have already been pre- 
sented. The practical aim above indicated is of suffi- 
cient importance to the novice to warrant something of 
detailed application, even though it may seem unduly 
repetitious and prescriptive. 

The plan suggested may well guide the teacher's 
procedure until he has evolved a better one of his own. 
That he is likely to do, for none of us have the same men- 
tal habits; but the beginner, unless he is a genius of 
unusual type, cannot safely omit any one of the steps 
indicated below. Patient and systematic use of some 
such plan will greatly hasten the day when he can dis- 
pense with all guidance save his own feeling for that 
which is appropriate and artistic. 

The first step in the preparation for the telling of a 
story is to determine the purpose for which it is to be 
used. It is not enough to assume the moral or religious 
aim; this must be defined in a specific way. The teacher 
must have clearly in mind the particular virtue to which 
the story is to incite the hearer or the very fault of which 
it is designed to warn him. 

This means more than that an illustrative story must 

[48 ] 


really illustrate the lesson in which it is to be used. 
We sometimes repeat a story which we have heard be- 
cause as we listened to it we felt its moral power, but we 
must remember that its special impressiveness was 
chiefly due to the narrator's appreciation of its message. 
If there be any vagueness in its meaning for us there will 
be a corresponding loss of force when we pass it on to 
another. If we use a story for a different purpose than 
that of the author it is obvious that we must begin our 
planning from our own point of view. If we use it for 
the same purpose, we may be sure that we will miss 
many a fine point of effectiveness in lesser details unless 
we fully appreciate the author's aim. 

v When the story has been selected and its message 
defined the next step toward preparation for telling it 
before the class is that of becoming thoroughly familiar 
with it. This does not imply memorization, for that in- 
volves a loss of the spontaneity that is one of the chief 
charms of story-telling, nor does it involve close atten- 
tion to details, but rather a thorough grasp of the story 
as a whole. Having reached a clean-cut definition of 
the moral of the tale, there must be a clear appreciation 
of the feelings which are to be stirred, and then a mastery 
of the general outlines of the events. If the story has 
strongly impressed one, two or three thoughtful readings 
will usually secure these results. 

)-> The third step is one of careful analysis. The story- 
teller must determine what forms the climax of the story. 
At first this will often require careful thought, but with 
practise it will become an almost unconscious process. 
Having settled this the teacher must next decide what 
events are necessary to prepare the way for the climax, 
and the order in which they can be most effectively 
presented. The making of a written outline will at first 
be the most satisfactory mode of accomplishing this, and, 
[ 49 ] 


indeed, is usually essential unless the plot is very simple. 
These vital events having been determined and set in 
order one must now decide how the story can be ended 
without detracting from the force of the climax, and 
how it can be begun in such a way as to arouse immediate 

The essential elements being now defined, the fourth 
step is to tell or write the story with such elaboration 
of the bare outline as may seem desirable. For the 
teacher who uses the story orally, writing is doubtless 
the less valuable exercise at this stage. The best plan 
is to tell the story to a friend of the patient sort, or, 
if it is suitable, to a child or group of children who 
are always ready to become the subjects of experiments 
of that nature. The chief purpose of this preliminary 
telling of the story is to test one's mastery of the content, 
and to prepare the way for a refinement and enrichment 
of both content and form. 

The fifth step consists of a strict criticism of the story, 
in the form which it has now taken, from the standpoint 
of the principle of unity. Every episode, incident, event, 
and description that does not directly add to the power 
of the story in the use that you now have in mind is to 
be eliminated. This is sometimes heroic treatment, 
but it pays. The apparent loss is retrieved with added 
gain in the next step. Your aim is to stir certain feelings 
or to present certain truths; every word that does not 
further these ends hinders the accomplishment of your 

The sixth step consists in the careful elaboration of 
the really essential features of the story by touches of 
description, adding of details, use of telling epithets, and 
in all other ways that will add to effectiveness without 
obscuring the main points. This will frequently leave 
the story as full of detail as before the preceding con- 
[ 50 J 


densation, but of detail that at every point strengthens 
the story for the use to which it is to be put. 

The last step is that of practise. Tell the story again 
and again. It is not possible to carry this too far. The 
aim is largely to provide for perfect familiarity with the 
content and form, but there are other advantages of 
great importance. As one gains familiarity with the 
story there is less of self-consciousness. One learns 
to give oneself wholly to the story and the audience. 
Again, there is a reaction to the hearers, and the form 
improves as a result. There is also a gain growing out 
of the response of the story-teller to the story itself. 
More and more, as a result of this repetition, it becomes 
a personal possession and is told not from memory but 
really from the heart. This is the principle that lies 
back of the old saying that a man may tell a lie until he 
believes it himself ! Let us make use of this psychological 
fact, for it will aid us to gain success. It is after the story 
has been told twenty times, and it may be to the same 
audience if they are children, that there will be most 
frequent requests that it be told again. 

Looking back over these suggestions the beginner 
may feel that it would require less effort to simply 
follow the story as it appears in the book or as it was 
told by another. There can be no doubt that this is 
true, but the fact remains that good story-tellers do 
not do that way. Those who do lack confidence and 
spontaneity, fail to develop original ways of putting 
things, and are unable to improvise or even to satis- 
factorily work up their own experiences for use with a 
class. All these ends are furthered by systematic use 
of such a plan as has been outlined. 

At first the diction of the novice will not equal that 
of the master in whose mind the story first took form, 
but there is always the opportunity to turn again to the 
[ 5i ] 


original version, after one has thus made the story his 
own, and adopt a telling phrase or correct a clumsy 
statement. And on the whole it will from the first give 
better results. It will lead to mastery of content before 
form. The action will be seen as moving to one clearly 
defined end by steps which can hardly be missed. The 
various incidents will appear in due perspective. The 
mere setting of the story will become as important 
in its contribution to artistic effect as the well-studied 
background of a painting, and it will obtrude itself no 

The average person can relate a series of events in 
the order in which they occurred without much effort, 
and that will serve his purpose if it is but to give infor- 
mation. Any one can memorize a story by simple 
repetition, and that plan may be used if he is to tell but 
one. But if motives are to be stirred, if conduct is to 
be guided, if character is to be formed, and especially 
if one is to have this opportunity many times, he can 
afford to honor his art and take such time and pains 
as are necessary to perfect his technique. Skill is noth-r 
ing more than the possession of correct habits of pro- 
cedure. If one way of doing a thing is better in the 
end, it pays to do it that difficult way at first because 
by and by that way will become the easy and uncon- 
scious mode of procedure, as well as the one that leads 
to the highest achievement. 

Practise, guided by a well-conceived plan, is the chief 
secret of success. 


Practise. It may be hard on your relatives and friends, but 
the world will be the gainer. Agnes T. Downey. 

If you blunder on a detail of a story, never admit it. Never 
[ 52 ] 


take the children behind the scenes, and let them hear the 
creaking of your mental machinery. Sara Cone Bryant. 

Practise! It will go clumsily at first. . . . Imagination 
will be dull, facts will escape your memory, relations will be 
confused, you will seem to be acting a part. . . . But per- 
severe, persevere! Study results. If you fail, see why you 
fail, and thus lay the foundation for success. Listen to others 
that know how to do it. Catch their points of effectiveness. 
Above all things, practise! practise! practise! Amos R. Wells. 

But if one have neither natural adaptation nor experience, 
still I say, Tell the stories; tell the stories; a thousand times, tell 
the stories! You have no cold, unsympathetic audience to deal 
with; the child is helpful, receptive, warm, eager, friendly. 
His whole-hearted interest, his surprise, admiration, and wise 
comment will spur you on. Nora Archibald Smith. 


Select two stories that are about equally difficult, and both 
of which contain a number of incidents or events. Learn one 
by simply reading it again and again without memorizing. 
Follow the plan suggested above with the other. At the end of 
a week test the results by an attempt to use each. 

Analyze the stories that you read. Study the way in which 
the several elements are managed. 

Recall some story which you have heard but once, but which 
roused your interest, and attempt to outline the successive 
events in their order. Then make the analysis and see if others 
are recalled. Note how readily you can fill gaps by improvisa- 
tion when the aim is defined and the elements are outlined before 

Follow the plan outlined in this article in the reproduction 
from memory of some good, short story, and note the value of 
the fifth and sixth steps. 

As you listen to stories in the meeting of the League, club, or 
class, jot down outlines as indicated above, and work up the 
stories for use. 

Satisfy yourself that such a plan of preparation does not pay 
before you abandon it. 




1. Mastering the story. 

a. Defining its aim. 

b. Seeing it as a whole. 

c. Analyzing it into its elements. 

2. Giving it form. 

a. The first reproduction. 

b. Condensation for unity of meaning. 

c. Expansion for emotional effect. 

3. Developing skill. 

a. Practise for familiarity with the story itself. 

b. Practise for improvement through reaction to the 

c. Practise for impressiveness through making it your 

4. The value of following such a plan. 


Richard G. Moulton, Second Report of the Religious Education 

Association, p. 30. 

Walter L. Hervey, Picture Work, pp. 31-43 and 56-63. 
Gardiner, Kittredge, and Arnold, Manual of Composition and 

Rhetoric, pp. 39-88. 
Sara Cone Bryant, How to "Tell Stories to Children, pp. 81-99. 




EVERY good teacher, though he be untrained in the 
schools, shrinks from boring his pupils, for he instinc- 
tively recognizes interest as the most characteristic ele- 
ment in the mental attitude of the learner. The old 
disciplinary conception of education, whose spirit Mr. 
Dooley sets forth in the statement that " It don't make 
any difference what ye teach children, provided they 
don't like it," has lost favor among modern educators. 
This is not from any sentimental softness, but because 
of the scientific discovery that interest is nature's pro- 
vision that children may learn the things that they most 
need to know. 

It has been found that certain interests are common 
to practically all children, and that particular ones are 
characteristic of particular stages of development. These 
spontaneous interests are not to be lightly regarded, for 
they are instinctive expressions of the needs of the child's 
nature. They differ at different periods of life because 
the needs of the infant, the boy or girl, and the youth or 
maiden are not the same. 

This conception of the meaning of interest, which 
has been well established by investigations in child- 
study and kindred branches of psychology, has not only 
won the favor of many who in the past ignored it, 
but has changed the attitude of some who formerly 
valued it as an aid in the teaching process. No longer 
[ 55 ] 


is the aim simply to make the lesson interesting, perhaps 
by linking with it in a purely artificial way something 
to which the child's attention naturally goes out: now 
the teacher seeks to understand the natural interests 
of the child, and to shape the lesson from the material 
and the relations that are thus indicated as the ones 
that nature would use to prepare the unfolding life 
for the experiences that are before it. 

It is from this point of view that we must approach 
the study of the story-interests of the child. Mani- 
festly the attitude of the listener toward the story that 
is told is of the greatest importance to the teacher. 
The child's spontaneous interests not only facilitate 
the assimilation of the lesson, but also give definite 
clues to the selection of the truth to be taught and the 
form which the lesson should take. With this psycho- 
logical principle in mind we may note the kinds of 
stories that are particularly interesting at various ages. 

The teacher who selects stories of child life for children 
of the kindergarten and primary grades is not in error, 
for both common observation and scientific study testify 
that young children are especially interested in the 
doings of others of about their own age. Dr. Daw- 
son's study confirms this general conclusion in special 
relation to the stories of the Bible. While the Old 
Testament stories are in the main most interesting to 
children under nine years of age, there appears a special 
interest in the stories of the birth of Jesus. The stories 
of the infancy of Moses and of the childhood of Samuel 
are also among the chief favorites of the younger chil- 
dren. One has but to glance at the successful collections 
of stories for children of this age to see how fully the 
editors of juvenile literature have reacted to this attitude 
of the child. 

In the Bible stories mentioned above there are ele- 

[ 56] 


ments that are quite foreign to the common experiences 
of the child, but nevertheless it is wholly probable that 
the child's chief interest in stories of this type centers 
not so much in the unusual as in the familiar elements. 
It is the life of a child, the very life that he knows best, 
that the child wishes to see portrayed. By nature's 
plan he is now following very closely in the footsteps 
of the ancestors who have gone before him. It is in 
early adolescence, when he most nearly breaks with the 
past of the race as well as with his parents' control, 
that he needs the exceptional and sensational to spur 
him on to do the deeds that have never yet been done. 

The very well known interest of young children 
in myths, fairy-tales, and folk-tales brings no contra- 
dictory evidence here, for it is not the supernatural 
or marvelous element in these stories that appeals to 
the mind of the child. Rather he hardly realizes its 
presence. He does not yet live in a world of law, and 
these things are like the every-day happenings of his 
own life. The real interest is rather that which has been 
mentioned above, for all the fairies, witches, gnomes, 
and giants that appear in these kinds of literature are 
really but children masquerading in other forms. The 
morals of these stories are of a naive and childish sort; 
all the clever strategy is such as a child would devise, 
and such as would deceive no one but himself. The real 
value of the unnatural or supernatural element, as has 
been indicated in a previous chapter, is that it provides 
the machinery for a poetic justice which will be clearly 
appreciated by the child. 

It will help to solve some of the lesser problems of 
the Sunday-school teacher of young children if she will 
remember that " wonder stories " are not wonder 
stories for them. The presence of the miraculous ele- 
ment in the Bible stories need hardly be considered by 


the kindergartner. To the child in her class nothing 
is a miracle, or everything is a miracle as you choose 
to put it. That Jesus could walk upon the water is not 
stranger than that the fishes can swim beneath its sur- 
face; that He could multiply the loaves and fishes is as 
natural as that the grocer should be able to supply our 
wants from day to day. 

Another marked interest of young children is in the 
natural objects about them, and especially in living 
creatures. Kittens, dogs, squirrels, birds, insects make 
a fascinating appeal to their attention, and plants, stars, 
clouds, and winds really stir the same kind of interest, for 
the child endows them all with life and feelings like his 
own. It is because of this animistic tendency of the child 
that stories of the persevering rain-drop and benevolent 
sunbeam kind do not repel him as they do his older 
brother or sister who has reached the junior department 
of the Sunday-school. Doubtless the personification 
of natural objects is often overdone, and sometimes the 
habit is a lazy one and leads to the missing of facts 
that are more interesting and more significant than the 
teacher's fiction, but commonly no great harm is done 
if the practise is not carried beyond the kindergarten 

The chief value of the use of such stories is perhaps 
in the variety that they afford. The fresh forms attract, 
but the deeper interest is in life like his own. A promi- 
nent writer on the kindergarten has called attention 
to the fact that young children sympathize more deeply 
with the woes and joys of the lower animals than they 
do with those of men and women. This is doubtless 
because the former are much nearer the level of his own 
feeling life than are those of adult human beings. 

Among all the types of stories that please young chil- 
dren it is found that those which are most concrete, 

[ 58] 


which deal most with action and with things, make the 
strongest appeal. Subtle analysis of character has no 
place with children. The witches and giants must be 
wholly bad, and the heroes and heroines must be con- 
ventionally good. Under such circumstances the savage 
justice that so frequently appears does not offend. The 
plot should be very simple, and the story should move 
swiftly and directly to its necessary end. Surprises are 
always appreciated, provided they do not obscure the 
straightforward simplicity that has just been urged, 
but mystification is not to be tolerated here. To sum- 
marize in general terms, childlikeness, concreteness, sim- 
plicity, and directness are the qualities that appeal. 

When we turn to the children who have passed from 
the stage of early childhood to that of prepubescence, 
those who are between eight or nine and about twelve 
years of age, we find that the interests have changed to a 
very considerable extent. One of the characteristic 
changes in the child's mental life is the rapidly develop- 
ing sense of law and the rather prosaic and matter-of-fact 
spirit that accompanies it. It finds manifestation in the 
changed attitude toward fairy-tales and other imagina- 
tive literature which seems untrue to fact. Reality 
and the simplest beginnings of causality have a meaning 
and stir his interest as they did not before. 

Nature provides that the young child, living so largely 
on the plane of instinct, shall seek that which will give 
culture to his emotional life, and, outside of the needs of 
his material life, he pays small attention to questions of 
reality or fact, for to him they have not large importance. 
Now she deals, in the older child, with more highly 
developed feelings which have grown up in the race in 
connection with the perception of cause and effect and 
the reign of uniform law, and at her bidding the child 
turns from the world of fancy to that of fact. Tell him 



a story and he will ask, " Is it true ? " And whether 
you use the story to illustrate a principle or to stir his 
emotional life it will have a larger influence if you can 
tell him that it is. 

Besides this new interest in the real and true there 
is an increasing development of interest in the activities 
and achievements of adult life. This is an expression 
of the fact that nature no longer permits him to be sat- 
isfied with life that is lived only in to-day, but wakes the 
thought of a future that does not seem too far away to 
be of present importance. This suggests the use of 
stories from biography and history and from the ex- 
periences of the teacher and his acquaintances. To all 
of these the child gives ready response if they are well 
selected and well told. 

Two other traits that characterize this period of the 
child's life are significant here. The first of these is 
the selfishly utilitarian spirit with which the child views 
the world about him. " What is the good to me ? " is the 
almost universal test. The second is the desire to know 
and the readiness with which he stores away facts for 
future use. While interests mentioned above suggest 
the form, these hint at the desirable content of the tales 
that are now to be told. For the most part an egoistic 
morality, one that demonstrates that it pays to do right, 
and that it does not pay to do wrong, should be exem- 
plified in these stories. And much of information can be 
tactfully conveyed without overloading with details or 
weakening the story's moral power. Indeed the most 
of Biblical antiquities that it is wise to present can be 
taught through the use of Bible stories, and chiefly in the 
junior department of the Sunday-school. 

In spite of the development of the sense of law two 
forms of idealistic stories are of value here. Legends 
have a considerable element of fact and form the natural 



link that joins fairy-tale and myth with the historic 
stories. Fables, perhaps, are never more effective 
than through these years. They are always recognized 
as fiction, but they set forth in a picturesque way those 
simple and selfish moral principles that the child is with 
delight discovering for himself. 

Dr. Dawson's study shows that the dominant interests 
through these years of the child's life are in the Old Testa- 
ment stories, and these meet most of the specifications 
mentioned above. The miraculous element, if presented 
as miracle, that is, as departure from natural law through 
divine power, rarely raises any difficulties. Such doubt 
comes later, after the adolescent has gained a larger 
grasp of nature's laws and of God's ways of working 
through them. 

In case of the young child the story acts through sug- 
gestion by making the conduct which is desired appear 
attractive; in the older boy and girl its chief value is in 
setting forth a moral law: in case of each the natural 
interests point the way to success. 


Wouldst thou know how to teach the child ? Observe him, 
and he will show you what to do. Friedricb FroebeL 

The spontaneous interests of children become the dominant 
factors in education, whether they are recognized or not. 
George E. Daw son. 

Interest is the signboard pointing the direction in which edu- 
cation must proceed. M. V. O'Sbea. 

Anyone can put in everything. It is only the born story- 
teller, or the one who will sit down by the side of a child and 
patiently observe the points that the child sees and likes to hear, 
that can be trusted to put in and leave out just the right points. 
Walter L. Hervey. 

[61 ] 


Make a study of the best collections of stories for children 
of the ages indicated with the suggestions above outlined in 

Ask the children of your own class what stories they like best, 
note the ages of each, and seek to arrive at some conclusion from 
the facts thus secured. A cooperative study by all the members 
of a story club or training class will have much larger value. 
Especially, ask as many children as possible as to the Bible 
stories that they like best, recording the age of each, and tabu- 
late the results as Dr. Dawson has done. 


1. The significance of natural interest. 

2. The story-interests of early childhood. 

a. Child life. 

b. Fairy-tale and myth. 

c. Nature stories. 

3. The story interests of older children. 

a. The true. 

b. Adult life. 

c. Self-interest. 

d. Legend and fable. 


George E. Dawson, The Child and His Religion, pp. 1-98. 

Clara Vostrovsky, A Study of Children s Reading Tastes, Peda- 
gogical Seminary, Vol. VI, pp. 523-535. 

Clark Wissler, Interests of Children in Reading Work, Pedagogi- 
cal Seminary, Vol. V, pp. 523-540. 

[62 ] 



IN adolescence, as in childhood, spontaneous inter- 
ests give a clue to vital needs. A knowledge of the un- 
folding life serves to emphasize the significance of the 
natural tastes and gives many hints as to the philoso- 
phy of nature's plans for the informal education of the 

Adolescence is the period of life lasting approximately 
from twelve to twenty-four years of age. It may be 
subdivided into three stages which are quite clearly 
differentiated, and each of which has its peculiar tastes 
and interests. The first of these stages covers about 
the first four years of the period; the second extends 
about three years further; and the last completes the 
period preceding maturity. 

In the mental life the most marked characteristic 
of the whole period is the rapid growth of the conscious- 
ness of selfhood in the individual, and of the relations 
of that newly discovered self to others. The impulse 
to realize one's own personality is at first instinctive, 
and its meaning is not understood by the youth, but 
gradually it comes into clear consciousness and becomes 
a definite aim. In the first stage the emotional attitude 
may be said to be egoistic, in the second, ego-social, and 
in the last it should be fully socialized. These conditions 
largely determine the interests of the period. The sugges- 
tions below seek to point out some special opportunities 



of the teachers of pupils of the earlier of these ages. 
The interests that are mentioned do not belong to these 
periods of development alone, nor should it be under- 
stood that other types of stories are not to be used. 

During the first stage of adolescence, and particularly 
at its beginning, the hero-story is perhaps more attractive 
than any other. This interest is stronger in boys, but 
usually appears in girls as well. The chief special 
requisite for successful stories of this type is that they 
should center in a strong, forceful character whose 
achievements form the material of the tale. The char- 
acter that appeals is the one that achieves obvious 
success. Later the victories of defeat will win due appre- 
ciation; now it is the man who brings things to pass 
who stirs the enthusiasm of youth. His interest is 
just shifting from the world of things to that of person- 
ality, and as he still retains much of the old standards 
of judgment, what a man does bulks quite as large as 
what he is. 

Nature's purpose here is very obvious. Unconsciously 
to himself the youth is selecting the models that are to 
shape his own life. The love of the sensational and dis- 
taste for the commonplace are not inconsistent with 
the plan. It is in adolescence that such new steps in 
development as the race is yet to take will be accom- 
plished, and nature now seeks to stir in every one the 
impulse to rise above the common level and do surpassing 
things. Hence the impossible hero does not repel and 
may have a real pedagogical value. Nature makes pro- 
vision a little later for the correction of such misconcep- 
tions as may arise, after the moral stimulus has been 

Certain forms of this interest seem to defeat the educa- 
tional end, for too often the boy turns to the " nickel 
novel " in preference to literature of a higher moral 


grade. The pugilist, the border ruffian, the highway- 
man, or the bandit seems more attractive than the more 
dignified figures who appear on the pages of his Sunday- 
school book. Here nature seems to lead him astray, but 
a careful study of the boy's attitude, and of the books 
themselves, shows that this interest is not even due 
to the lawlessness of immaturity, but rather to the ad- 
miration for strong characters whose most prominent 
traits are physical prowess, fortitude, courage, loyalty, 
and honor a crude form of real honor, though it be 
honor among thieves. These are the qualities that make 
the real hero, and most of them are essential traits. 
Really it is not his vices but his virtues that the lad 
admires in the immoral hero of the tale. It is our failure 
to set before him good men of heroic mold that turns 
him to this harmful literature. Have a hero he must. 
If he finds him here there is danger, though it is his 
virtues that really attract. The inexperienced youth, 
deprived of his heritage of stories of the noble lives of 
those who have gone before, identifies the immoral 
conduct with the courageous spirit that is back of it, 
and seeks to achieve his own manhood by emulating 
the deed. The teacher owes it to every youth to bring 
him many a tale of the noble, the brave, and the true. 

This apparently degenerate interest often brings the 
teacher the very opportunity that he has long desired. A 
poorly-trained public-school teacher was conducting 
certain investigations in child-study under the direction 
of the educational authorities of the state. Each pupil 
was asked to indicate what person he most admired 
and why. The worst boy in the school wrote the name 
of a young man who had stopped a railroad train and 
single-handed robbed the passengers and made his 
escape uninjured. The teacher said indignantly, " If 
you were he you would go to prison." " / dont care, 
[6s ] 


said the boy, " I'd rather go to prison than to this school 
He was the bravest one among them anyhow.' 9 What a 
pathetic revelation of his vague but bitter consciousness 
that his life was misinterpreted and wronged, and of 
his admiration for the virtues that really make a man! 
The teacher reported it as a case of hopeless lack of the 
moral sense. Had she introduced him to but a score of 
the line of heroes that stretches from the days of King 
Arthur to those of Jack Binns of the Republic, she might 
have seen his life transformed. 

With the younger pupils of this age the stories of 
legendary heroes are perhaps most effective, though it 
would be error to use them exclusively. There should 
be a gradual transition in emphasis from such to histori- 
cal characters and from these to the men of to-day. 
There is also a similar development of interest from the 
startling and spectacular to the less conspicuous heroism 
of every-day life. 

In all these stories concreteness of presentation should 
be the aim, but the real emphasis should be on the char- 
acter that inspires the deed rather than on the act itself 
or even the consequences that follow it. Particularly 
in the latter part of the first stage of adolescence, when 
biographical stories will be especially prominent, the 
focus of attention should be further shifted from the 
traits of character which inspire the deeds to the struggles 
and choices which shape character itself. This will be 
accomplished largely by telling of the really critical 
events of a life and giving clear indication of the alterna- 
tive lines of conduct that are open. Thus the youth is 
helped to see how victories over self are usually the key 
to victories over men. 

In addition to the classic stories of legend, history, and 
fiction, modern biography will afford much materiaJ 
for the story-teller's use. An especially rich field for 


the teacher of religion is found in missionary biography. 
The one-volume life of John G. Paton is a good though 
imperfect example of what should be done in adapt- 
ing such literature to the youth. Some day Church history 
will be rewritten, not from the standpoint of the devel- 
opment of doctrine, but of the conquest of the world 
for Christ and of Christian heroism in general. Then 
a storehouse of fresh and valuable material will be opened 
to the teacher. Meanwhile there are treasures for those 
who will search. 

Through the first stage of adolescence ^ture's aim 
seems to be chiefly to develop virtues of the more egoistic 
type, such as have been indicated above, but at the close 
of this period the more unselfish feelings become promi- 
nent, and during the middle stage they should assume 
the dominant place. This change opens the way for the 
introduction of stories of moral heroism of another type. 
Through most of early adolescence the stories should 
incite to triumph, aver difficulties, self-mastery, and 
loyalty to friends; now they should more and more 
inspire the hearer for self-sacrifice and service and even 
love for enemies. It is in the later stages of adolescence, 
however, that this altruistic interest culminates, though 
it commonly wakens several years earlier in the girls 
than in the boys. 


Children are much less influenced in their choice of ideals 
than is popularly supposed. Their choices seem to come from 
the real fibers of their nature. Will Grant Chambers. 

If we would but take advantage of the normal interests and 
introduce them to the lives of the men and women who have 
made history, the results obtained would be more in proportion 
to the time and energy spent. E. B. Bryan. 

1 67 ] 


When such a selection of heroes has been made, their char- 
acters, deeds, and sayings may become the media through which 
the children shall be taught Hebrew history and geography, 
moral and religious principles, and anything else that the Old 
Testament can supply for purposes of religious instruction. 
George E. Dawson. 

With the great, one's thoughts and manners easily become 
great what this country longs for is personalities, grand 
persons, to counteract its materialities. Ralph Waldo Emer- 

The books for our boys must be wholesome, manly, and 
vigorous; clean in the warp and woof; books which excite to 
noble deeds without preaching and which present character 
worthy of emulation. Daniel C. Heath. 


Make a careful study of the stories that are being read by 
the young people of this age with whom you are associated, 
noting particularly the hero-tales. Question them as to why 
they like the ones that they prefer. 

Test some such book as " The Story of John G. Paton," or 
stories of Livingstone with the younger ones. Watch the news- 
papers and magazines for stories of modern heroism, noting the 
effect as you use them with your adolescent pupils or friends. 

Compare the story-interests of boys and girls of about the 
same age. Above all ask the young people to tell you stories 
of their heroes, and be ready to accept the hints that they un- 
consciously drop. 


1. Adolescence and its general significance. 

2. The special interest in the hero-story. 

a. Its meaning. 

b. Its perversion. 

c . The planning of a hero-tale. 

3. Sources for stories of this type. 




George E. Dawson, The Child and His Religion, pp. 1-98. 
Will Grant Chambers, The Evolution of Ideals, Pedagogical 
Seminary, Vol. X, pp. 101-143. 

[69 ' 



As has been already indicated early adolescence seems, 
in nature's plan, to be a time when the youth is to form 
such ideals and engage in such disciplinary training 
as will best develop his own personality, chiefly on the 
egoistic side. But this gives him only a part of his 
equipment to meet the requirements of life. The later 
stages of the period prepare for his adjustment to social 
life and for the service of the social group. The change 
from the more selfish to the more altruistic relationship 
with society proceeds gradually and is largely furthered 
by the development of new spontaneous interests. Every 
transition period in human development is one of especial 
importance to the educator, for it offers two possibilities 
of surpassing significance in relation to his aims: on 
the one hand it provides opportunity for exceedingly 
rapid progress toward the ends he seeks; on the other, 
if environment and training are unfavorable, there is 
the danger of a permanent or long-continued arrest 
of development at the stage from which nature now seeks 
to promote the child. 

One of the special interests of middle adolescence, 
which while largely egoistic in spirit leads away from 
the self-centered life, is that in romantic love. This is 
especially prominent and perhaps almost the dominant 
feeling at fourteen to sixteen or seventeen years of age 
in girls and sixteen to eighteen or nineteen years in 



boys. The appearance of love between the sexes before 
this period of life seems to be abnormal, and when it 
occurs is probably usually due to unwise stimulation 
by those who are older. Now the beginnings of this 
attitude naturally appear, and one of its first manifesta- 
tions is the new interest in sentimental literature. The 
self-consciousness which is so rapidly developing at this 
time often produces a shyness which at first hinders 
any direct and intimate association with individuals 
of the other sex outside of the necessary round of daily life; 
so that often influential ideals have been accepted and the 
attitude toward these matters has been preformed by litera- 
ture and observation when the actual association begins. 
This means danger for the unguided youth and oppor- 
tunity for the intelligent teacher. 

Love is so important a factor in human life that only the 
most thoughtless teacher or parent would think it a 
trivial matter to attempt to guide its first manifestations. 
The choices and the conduct which are determined by it 
influence the happiness and the welfare of the individual 
as largely as any that he makes. If education is to be 
at all complete much wise guidance must be given to 
this emotion as it begins to assert itself in the individual 

A wealth of very valuable story material is available 
for teachers who can shape their stories from the rough, 
and not a few choice tales are ready for the novice's 
use. Such a splendid illustration as Annie Fellows 
Johnston's beautiful story of The Three Weavers may 
well serve as the classic example of the latter kind. One 
could wish that no girl might grow out of her girlhood 
without hearing it again and again. It would seem that 
none could fail to respond to the charm of its form 
and the appeal of its message. This is a story written 
with the very aim urged above, and one that splendidly 

[71 ] 


fulfils its purpose. But there are hundreds of others, 
usually of the realistic type, embedded in our general 
literature, which have great value for the same purpose. 

Many who read these words acknowledge a lifelong 
debt of gratitude to Miss Muloch, George Macdonald, 
George Eliot, or others of the men or women, who have 
written purely and truly of love. Those who have such a 
memory need no argument as to the power of the story 
here. Such as had no similar experience in youth can- 
not estimate the influence that the ^ story-teller may here 
exert upon other lives. 

But the appearance of love in the emotional life of 
youth has a far larger indirect influence upon character 
than most of the more thoughtful teachers and parents 
suppose. Anthropologists tell us that man rose from 
the savage and barbarian states largely through the 
influence of woman. It was she who tamed and civilized 
him. While he hunted and fought she developed the 
domestic arts and so introduced him to the industrial 
life. Again, when she ceased to be his servant and be- 
came his lady-love and mistress of his home she trained 
him in a hundred refinements and virtues that he would 
hardly have discovered for himself. What the age of 
chivalry did for the race nature seeks to accomplish 
in the individual during middle adolescence, and she 
uses much the same means. About this central impulse 
of love are grouped other and more directly ethical 
feelings, and together they guide the life. Stories that 
are true to life commonly reveal these in their interplay 
and so touch the wider life of the hearer. Hence it is 
that the best stories of love stir the moral nature to its 
depths and often have a tremendous influence upon 
the shaping of character. 

With the clean-cut memory of a few stories that were 
full of truth and power and that had a bracing and up- 

[ 72 ] 


lifting influence upon the whole moral nature, most of 
us have a vague recollection of other stories that we 
read at this period of life, perhaps by dozens or scores. 
These were books that appealed to the sentimental 
attitude of youth, but which divorced love from real 
life, and which offered no example worthy of imitation 
and suggested no ideals that would inspire to better 
living. This is not usually classed as immoral literature 
because the fault seems to be only a negative one, but 
" unmoral " is too weak a term to describe its influence 
upon youth. This indeed is often overbalanced by a 
single book of the kind just mentioned, but such influence 
as they do have is exerted at a critical time when failure 
to make rapid advance to higher levels means arrest 
of moral development. Hence there is real danger here. 

As in case of the " nickel novel " a little earlier in 
adolescence, we can never eliminate such stories from 
the experience of youth by simply declaiming against 
them. We must substitute the literature of pure and 
healthy sentiment for that of frothy sentimentality. 
To this better type of story the heart of youth does 
respond, and " out of the heart are the issues of life." 

A less frequent but when it appears a much more 
serious danger-point is in what the purveyors o im- 
moral literature and that which verges upon the immoral 
term " French novels," though many of them are not ' 
of French origin and resemble the literary masterpieces 
after which they are named only in that they present 
with the same frankness the gross and degenerate 
phases of the passion which should uplift and glorify 
the whole of human nature. Good stories of pure love 
go far to create the habit of moral cleanliness which will 
make this as disgusting as any other form of filth. 

By guiding the choice of books many a teacher has 
helped his pupils here, and the opportunity is too great 


to be lightly regarded by any one who is interested in the 
moral welfare of youth; but it is for story-telling that 
the plea is made at this time. The good story, if it is 
well told, gains as much in the telling for the adolescent 
as for the child. A single suitable test will convince the 
skeptic of this. But there are hindrances to the practise 
other than mere doubt as to its value. The chief difficulty 
is doubtless that most of the stories that appeal to the 
interest under discussion are too long for oral use. 

Here it is that faithful practise in such analysis and 
reconstruction of stories as was urged in the earlier 
chapters of this book will especially serve the teacher. 
At least one in four of the really good novels will admit 
of such selection and condensation of material as will 
make them suitable for our special use. Often the most 
significant portion of a story appears in a single chapter. 
In such cases one who has accustomed himself to the 
making over of stories to suit his special needs will 
not find it a difficult matter to so outline the really 
necessary preceding and following portions of the story 
as to make it serve his purpose. When a larger portion 
of the story is of really vital significance the task is more 
difficult, but if the story is worth while the result will 
justify the effort. 

Interest in the purely unselfish life of service for others 
finds considerable manifestation in middle adolescence, 
but it is after the seventeenth or eighteenth year that 
it reaches its larger development. So strong is the 
instinctive tendency toward altruism that often self- 
sacrifice becomes a pleasure, and is sought almost as 
an end in itself. Now the real spirit of missions makes 
its full appeal, as it could not in the earlier years. To 
the average youth of fourteen Father Damien throws his 
life away for those who are not worthy of the sacrifice. 
But for our older adolescent even David Livingstone 

[ 74] 


opening the Dark Continent to the world does not make 
as strong an appeal. 

Now it is that the story of Jesus will go home to the 
heart with irresistible power, if it be but simply told. 
Let us learn to tell it as we would another tale, studying 
its elements, shaping it with care, telling it with the feel- 
ing that it stirs in our own hearts, and leaving it to do 
its work. Sometimes we do well to emphasize the human 
side of the life of Jesus. It is not always theology that 
the youth needs most. Surely there are many times when 
a philosophical analysis of the plan of salvation is not as 
valuable as the simple narration of how that plan was 
manifested to men. 

But it is not to religion alone that we must turn for 
the story of self-sacrifice for others. The popular novels, 
the daily papers, and the incidents of life about us offer 
material that will meet the teacher's needs. One who 
will faithfully prepare one such story and present it to a 
group of older young people will hardly need urging 
to repeat the experiment. 

Best of all stories for this period of life are those 
that while they appeal to these interests in romantic 
and unselfish love at the same time stimulate the higher 
ambitions and aspirations of youth and put the strongest 
emphasis upon the shaping of character through the 
denial of baser impulses and choice of the nobler way 
at the crises of life. Of all who write in English none 
seem to the writer to have better fulfilled these conditions 
than George Macdonald. Without untactful moralizing 
his novels exert a very great moral and religious influ- 
ence. Whether they furnish much material for the 
teacher's use or not, they cannot fail to give appreciation 
of the story's power and inspiration for its use. One 
may turn almost at random to the books and read with 
profit to this end. 

[75 ] 


From giving, first, edibles and toys up to self-effa cement; 
from love of being together to complete coordination of habits, 
tastes, and instincts; from trying to please and cause a smile 
up to always preferring another's good to one's own all this 
is not alchemy and the archaic symbolism in which love poems 
revel, but the plain simple course of evolution if normally 
environed. It is no mystery save the supreme mystery of 
spring-time and of growth. G. Stanley Hall. 

The best books from the evolutionist's standpoint are not 
necessarily those of the most elegant diction or startling phrase. 
They are not necessarily those of the most exhausting or complete 
catalogue of scientific facts, or the finest dissections of normal 
or diseased personality. They are true to life, as we say. They 
teem with the highest vitality. Their characters remain with 
us as friends and close companions and infect us with strength 
and courage. They not merely amuse or instruct, they build 
up and vivify. 

Judged from this standpoint, no volume or library has such 
value as the Bible. ... It is a record or picture of the experi- 
ences, feelings, and lives of strong men and women facing and 
overcoming doubt and fear, hardship and pain, temptation and 
trial, as we must do to-day. It teems with life and vigor, courage, 
hope, and faith, from cover to cover. John M. Tyler. 


Recall carefully the stories that have strongly influenced you 
since you passed the early adolescent period. Inquire of others 
as to similar experiences. 

Make a brief list of stories of love that have a moral signifi- 
cance. Select one of these and attempt to condense it for 
presentation to a group of young people. If you do not succeed 
try another. Test its use and study results. 

Make a similar test with stories of altruism from history, 
fiction, and modern life. Ask the young people with whom 
you are associated what novels that they have recently read they 
[ 76 ] 


have most enjoyed. Especially ask them to tell you the portions 
of the story that most impressed them. Note both the content 
of the stories that they tell and the way that the condensation 
is accomplished. 

All this work will be much more profitable if it is cooperative 
study carried on in the story club or normal class. 


1. The development of social feeling in adolescence. 

2. The interest in romantic love. 

0. The importance of reaching it directly. 

b. Its indirect relation to character. 

c. Some danger points. 

3. Stories of altruistic life. 


George E. Dawson, The Child and His Religion, pp. 66-68, 76- 
77, 87-97. 




THE recent very marked development of interest 
in story-telling has led to the production of a considerable 
literature on the subject. To this the teacher of morals 
and religion who has just become interested in the use of 
stories will naturally turn for guidance. Much of it 
will be of very real value to him; some, however, is 
likely to lead him astray because it is the product of 
the experience of those who use stories for a purpose 
very different from his own. Some further words of 
warning and guidance have greater significance for this 

Seven different aims in story-telling may be defined. 
' The first of these is that of most of the story-telling in 
home and social life. Its purpose is simply to add to 
the pleasure of those who listen. Much of the somewhat 
technical discussion of the short story in which the 
canons of literary art are applied to their construction 
and criticism clearly make this their dominant aim. 
This implies a point of view quite different from that 
of the teacher of morals, and the literary standards 
for the selection of material can not always be safely 
followed. Still it is true that what is genuinely artistic 
is usually pedagogically correct, and there is often 
much of helpful suggestion here as to method. 

To make the lesson attractive is surely a legitimate 
aim provided that the fundamental question of its in- 

c 78 ] 


fluence upon character has been settled first. The tact- 
ful use of stories certainly does make the lesson less 
formal and more pleasing to the average learner. The 
pupil approaches with pleasant anticipations the teacher 
who thus gives his lessons the touch of life in the concrete 
and of human interest, and the simple establishment 
of such a sympathetic and friendly relationship is a long 
step toward success in teaching. For this reason alone 
the teacher might well make considerable use of narra- 
tion in his teaching work. The danger is that stories 
will be used that do not further the fundamental aim of 
the lesson. Where this happens there is a double blun- 
der; the right story will be more pleasing as well as more 
effective in influencing character, 

x Story-telling of another kind seeks to introduce 
children to the best literature, and to guide the formation 
of habits of reading. This use of stories finds some 
exemplification in the schools, but is best illustrated 
in the story-telling that is now carried on in many public 
libraries. It consists largely in the presentation of 
samples of the literature for children that may be found 
upon the library shelves, though it is not confined to this 
alone where it is under the best leadership. The special 
plans that are suggested in this connection, except so 
far as they deal with method in story-telling, contain 
little that is of particular value to the Sunday-school 
teacher except as they can be utilized to bring children 
into acquaintance with the contents of the Sunday- 
school library. In settlements and similar institutions 
they may have a larger place. 

A third use of stories, perhaps the most common 
in the schools, is in connection with language-study. 
Here much is made of the reproduction of the story by 
the pupil, and the instructions given in the best text- 
books and outlines of lesson plans are especially likely 
[ 79 ] 


to mislead the teacher of morals. A model lesson in one 
of the standard text-books on general method, which is 
largely used in normal schools, and to which Sunday- 
school teachers who take their work seriously some- 
times turn for guidance, may be cited as an example. 
The teacher is instructed to tell a story (which can be 
related in five minutes) in eight sections, at the close 
of each one of which he is to pause while that portion 
is retold by the pupils, whose misconceptions are to be 
corrected. This is to be followed by repeated telling 
of each paragraph until all the children can repeat the 
story in good language, which, it is stated, will require 
several recitation periods of twenty minutes each. All 
this precedes an attempt to discover and enforce the 
moral lessons of the story. In case of a good story well 
told such formal application would be worse than useless; 
it is hardly necessary to suggest that if a story is pre- 
sented as directed above the effort to make its moral 
content impressive must necessarily be a labored process. 
The error is in the confusion of the moral and the literary 
aim. If both are to be sought with the use of the same 
material the moral lesson from the story as a whole 
must precede the other. 

A misguided effort to apply the important educational 
principle, that teaches that impression from teacher or 
text-book should always be followed by expression from 
the pupil leads some of the most conscientious and in- 
telligent Sunday-school teachers to fall into this* error 
- for error it certainly is if results in character are what 
the teacher seeks. Where the purpose is to train the 
pupil in the use of correct language the principle is 
correctly applied, but the true " expression " of a moral 
lesson consists not in giving back its words but in mani- 
festing its spirit in daily conduct. 

Not only does this method fail to secure that result, 

[ so] 


but it tends directly to hinder its accomplishment, for it 
centers attention upon the story's form and diverts 
it from its meaning. The impression that is left by a 
story that is used in moral education should be like that 
of a picture. If it is reproduced in very great detail 
by the pupil, and particularly if this is in response to 
questions by the teacher, this unified impression is likely 
to be lost, and for it is substituted a mass of relatively 
isolated details something that resembles a museum 
rather than a picture, a catalogue rather than a story. 
If, however, the child reproduces the story in its en- 
tirety, and in his own way, no harm is done, for if the 
teacher's work has been successful he will emphasize 
the story's content rather than its form. Indeed it may 
well serve a valuable end, as the teacher will gain at 
least a hint as to what moral impression has been made. 
One may fairly question whether even the training 
in language might not be more effectively accomplished 
in another way than that set forth above. As a means of 
culture of literary appreciation it ranks with the parsing 
of Gray's Elegy and the translating of Virgil as a second 
Latin text. For purposes of moral and religious educa- 
tion it would be almost equally ineffective. 
^ Another use of stories in the schools is as a means of 
general intellectual training. Here the effort is to de- 
velop the reasoning powers and to foster the habit of 
mental alertness. With this aim in view the story 
is usually " developed " through "questioning by the 
teacher. To follow such a method when one has a moral 
aim is as unfortunate a blunder as the one mentioned 
above. If the teacher pauses at a critical moment to ask, 
" What do think that he did next ? " " How could you 
have escaped from such a place ? " " Who can tell of a 
better way ? " he may secure some clever guesses, but 
he spoils his story. The steady flow of thought and 


feeling toward one particular end is checked; the im- 
pression already made is dissipated. The pupils' wits 
may have been sharpened, but their hearts have not been 

The teacher who desires to know the effect upon the 
hearer of such impertinent interruption of the story's 
course can ascertain by a process of introspection while 
he listens to the story-teller who says, " And just as the 
bear grabbed him along came a man named Henry 
Jones. I think it was Henry Jones, but it may have 
been his brother John. There were six children in that 
family and all boys; I never could keep them straight. 
But probably it was Henry, for he always was loafing 
around with a gun. Well, just as the bear reached him, 
along came this man with a double-barrelled shotgun 
loaded with number-eight shot to kill woodcock. He 
always was hunting birds out of season!" etc. 

It will aid the teacher to avoid some of these errors 
if he will remember that the question is as distinctly 
and as characteristically a device for stirring the intel- 
lectual powers as the story is for stimulating the feelings. 
There are, of course, times when the rhetorical question, 
one which the hearer is not expected to answer, but which 
serves to quicken and prolong curiosity, may be wisely 
used; but as a rule the story and the question are teach- 
ing devices that are not readily combined. 

A fifth use of stories is for the purpose of illustration, 
in the strict use of the term, that is, to aid the learner 
to gain a clear conception of some unfamiliar truth by 
calling to mind some well-known experience or fact and 
pointing out the likeness of the new idea to this one 
whose meaning has been mastered. This is not the place 
to discuss the value or the methods of illustration, but it 
is germane to say that the story is one of the most valuable, 
attractive, and readily obtained forms of illustration 



that the teacher can use. In moral and religious teaching 
it is especially useful because it may at the same time 
aid to give clear conceptions of duty and stir the feelings 
that prompt to its performance. In this use of stories 
brevity is one of the chief essentials, and the drill in 
analysis and condensation that has been suggested in 
previous chapters will aid the teacher to the attainment 
of that terseness and pointedness that is a cardinal 
virtue in that kind of teaching. 

Another use of stories is for the culture of the imagina- 
tion and the esthetic feelings. It seeks to develop correct 
literary taste, and to train to an appreciation of the 
beautiful and the ideal in the whole environment of the 
child. Stories are often used with both this aim and 
one of those previously mentioned, but perhaps there 
is more frequent combination with the next, which is 
that of direct moral or religious influence. It is in sub- 
stantially the same way that the story influences the 
hearer for the esthetic and the moral end, and suggestions 
as to the use of stories for the first aim will contain much 
to guide the teacher of morals to a correct method. 

The direct moral and religious aim is the most im- 
portant one of the Sunday-school teacher, is very promi- 
nent in the kindergarten, has some place and should 
have a larger one in the grades and in the high school, 
and is beginning to be appreciated by the Young Women's 
Christian Associations, the Young Men's Christian 
Associations (in the Boys' Branches at least), by settle- 
ments, vacation schools, playgrounds, and other in- 
stitutions that have a moral aim. 

This use of stories simply as stories, but with the aim 
of influencing conduct and character is the one that the 
writer has had chiefly in mind throughout the preceding 
chapters. It is the most important one for the Sunday- 
school teacher. He who learns to present the text of a 


Bible lesson in the form of a well-told story instead of 
by the old-fashioned reading of " a verse about " will 
find that something has happened to his class. After 
such an introduction more detailed discussion may follow 
as seems profitable. The teacher who uses such a method 
will not be content to present only the Biblical material 
in that way, but will find many opportunities to introduce 
other story-material in the introduction to the lesson or in 
the final step of application. The method of Jesus will 
commend itself to those who test it fairly. 


The long story or poem peddled out in small instalments 
is an artistic and pedagogical absurdity. Percival Chubb. 

The inquiry is sometimes made, how such literature should 
be used in practical teaching. I would say that one's first duty 
to a story is to love it. Nothing in the way of discussion is legiti- 
mate that interferes with the prerogative of the young mind to 
absorb a story and to reproduce it in its own way. Richard G. 

The anecdote in a sermon answers the purpose of an engrav- 
ing in a book. Charles H. Spurgeon. 


As opportunity offers listen to story-telling in kindergartens, 
schools, libraries, social gatherings, etc., and carefully note 
both aims and methods. Compare both with your own. Re- 
ports of such visitation at the story club or training-class 
followed by general discussion of the facts reported will be 
especially valuable both for example and for warning. 


1. An opportunity and a danger. 

2. Seven aims in story-telling, and their relations to moral 



a. To entertain. How far legitimate in teaching ? 

b. To guide reading. How can it serve the moral pur- 

pose ? 

c. For purposes of language-study. How it may mis- 

lead the teacher of morals. 

d. For intellectual discipline. The error of developing 

a story. The significance of the question as a 
teaching device. 

e. For illustration. Special advantage of illustrative 


/. For esthetic culture. Relation to the moral aim. 
g. For direct influence upon character. 




FROM childhood we have all felt the story's influence; 
in what does it consist ? In the preceding chapters we 
have noted some of the qualities that give it interest 
and have studied devices that add effectiveness in presen- 
tation ; but we feel that back of this there is something 
that is more than all of these. When we search for it 
we are driven to the conclusion that it is the story itself. 
Beauty of literary form has an intrinsic charm for culti- 
vated minds, but choice diction never stirred a heart 
or influenced a life. Empty nothings clothed in well- 
turned phrases are as disgusting to a healthy mind as 
the sight of an imbecile trigged out in the extreme of 
fashion. The story which lacks an inner spiritual 
quality is as devoid of power to stir a soul as are the 
sophomoric attempts at rondeaus, rondels, and triolets 
in which the college annuals abound. There is some- 
thing that precedes method both in importance and in 
time. " First catch your rabbit " applies in story-telling 
as well as in cookery. If a story is to be told a first 
essential is a situation that appeals to human interest, 
and some sort of a hint at a solution of a problem in 
human life. 

But the story outweighs in influence the homily 

which still more directly deals with material of just this 

sort; there is some element of power in the story form. 

This is doubtless partly a matter of concreteness of pres- 

[ 86] 


entation. All children and many adults of the less cul- 
tured class find it at least relatively difficult to master 
an abstract principle. It is the specific and concrete 
and that which is associated with human interests rather 
than general ideas logically arranged that find ready 
entrance to their minds. The average man will get a 
truer idea of the Middle Ages from Ivanhoe than from 
Hallam's history. Not only will the story awaken larger 
interest, but from it he will carry away more knowledge. 
That which is presented is apperceived more fully. In 
teaching morals to these people the same principles 
obtain. They are guided in their choices by impulse 
and habit rather than by reason. They have not studied 
conduct in its deeper relations, comparing motive with 
motive, choice with choice, issue with issue, sufficiently 
to rise to general moral principles except of the simplest 
kind. It follows that when such principles are presented 
by others they can not make a strong appeal to them. 

Even if a principle has been accepted in general terms 
it is not always easy for the untrained mind to apply it 
accurately to the varied situations of daily life. In child 
life this finds frequent illustration. A boy or girl will 
accept a general statement of duty, but when the attempt 
is made to apply it to his own conduct he will deny its 
authority if it conflicts with his own preference. This 
is not due simply to the fact that the child's selfish 
impulses are strong, but also to the difficulty of trans- 
lating an abstract statement of duty into terms of 
conduct. Here the story helps. If well told it suggests 
the principle, but often, and particularly if it is of the real- 
istic type, it makes the application clear beyond a doubt. 

But the story does more than point out what conduct 
ought to be. Laws and other disciplinary rules will 
accomplish that. While the specific " Thou shalt nots " 
of the Old Testament mean more to the child than Jesus' 

[ 8? ] 


summary of the law, they are often powerless to control. 
There are persons who accept the justice of the eighth 
commandment, and who admit the obligation to obey 
it, but who sometimes steal. The law is not effective 
at such times because an element with which it does not 
deal has entered in. This is what we call temptation, 
an emotional experience. The law deals with fact: 
the story adds an appeal to the feelings, and so deals 
with motives as well as with deeds. 

It is this element of emotional appeal, one of the vital 
characteristics of the story, that chiefly gives it moral 
power. It is the source of interest, first of all. When a 
reviewer uses the terms " thrilling," " sensational," 
" romantic," " dull," " prosy," " commonplace," in 
his description of a novel, he attempts to indicate the 
quality and force of the feelings which it stirs. Our at- 
titude toward books that we have not read is largely 
determined by such descriptions. The novels that we 
read again and again are those that stir us deeply, though 
they may not be at all of the sensational type. 

But more than the rousing of interest is involved in 
the ordinary emotional response to a good story. How 
often has the reader found his heart beating rapidly, 
his breathing suppressed, his hands clenched, or his 
eyes filled with tears as he followed the words of some 
master story-teller. While he read or listened he has 
unconsciously identified himself with the hero of the 
tale, has felt his disappointments and shared his aspira- 
tions, and has experienced the same feelings of indigna- 
tion toward his enemies and contempt for their motives. 
Not only has a certain course of conduct been definitely 
and vividly set before him, but the impulse to act* in 
harmony with it has been stirred. All the energy of the 
moral life is in the feelings, and the story stirs these as 
law and even exhortation never can. 


Several sources of influence have already appeared, 
but we have not yet reached the end of our quest. As 
the story is more than its form, so one might almost 
say that the story-teller is more than the story itself. 
Since the power of the story is chiefly in its emotional 
appeal, the story-teller's manifest feeling is an important 
factor in the impression that is made. It is precisely 
because it is interpreted by a human personality that 
the story that is told is better than the one that is read. 

So true is this that what under ordinary circumstances 
would seem but a trivial happening becomes a tragedy 
that moves one to tears when it is related by one to whom 
it was full of painful meaning. He who repeats the 
story, if he has grasped its significance and has felt it 
deeply, can give it something like the same power to stir 
the heart of the hearer; otherwise it is again a mere 
commonplace incident of daily life. So it is that one who 
has grasped the subtle spiritual significance of an allegori- 
cal tale so responds to its message that by every tone of 
voice and expression of face he greatly reinforces its 

The practical suggestion that these facts offer to one 
who would make successful story-telling a part of his art 
of teaching is that whatever adds to his appreciation of 
the meaning or importance of a story will add to its 
effectiveness as told. Until one has entered into the 
spirit of a tale he cannot tell it well. It is partly because 
of the increased response to the spiritual essence of the 
story that the one that is oft told becomes a more im- 
pressive one. Its scenes come to be visualized more 
clearly; its characters take on a more definite personality; 
its meaning is hinted in minor incidents as a man's 
character is revealed in trivial acts. It is because of 
this almost instinctive response to the story itself that 
some persons can tell a story well without recourse to 



the methods that have been suggested for the student's 
guidance in the preceding chapters of this book. It 
is this that Professor Moulton has in mind when he says 
that the teacher's first duty is to love the story. If he 
does, giving it form will not be a serious problem. Good 
taste and subtle harmonies come almost without effort, 
as when a mother clothes a child that she really loves. 
If the story is but the opportunity for the display of 
brilliant diction the product of the teller's art is like a vul- 
gar display of tasteless finery on the overdressed child 
of those who would advertise their newly-acquired wealth. 

One or two practical applications of these facts may 
well be pointed out. One who takes his story-telling 
seriously cannot afford to content himself with the study 
of other persons' adaptations of the world's great stories. 
Let him go to the masters who created them, or who 
gave them classic form, for their spirit and their meaning. 
Then, when he has saturated himself with the feeling 
which they stir he may turn to others for aid as to con- 
densation and presentation of the tales for a special 
audience. It is rarely that the results do not warrant 
the effort that this costs. 

Again, one may well remember that one's favorite 
story is usually one's best. This at once suggests that 
every teacher has a large fund of as yet unused material, 
and this is of the richest kind. Whatever one has deeply 
felt will appeal to many others if it is rightly presented. 
The stories that have moved you are the ones through 
which you, if not another, can best stir other hearts. 
The novels that you remember, the characters in history 
that stand out, the incidents of every-day life that stirred 
your sympathy or admiration, the friends that you have 
loved, the choices that shaped your own character, these 
are the things that shaped into simple stories will go from 
your lips to the hearts of those that listen. Patiently 
[ 90 ] 


and faithfully give them the form that will best reveal 
the message that they brought to you, and then use them 
with confidence; and use them over and over again, for 
with these stories you will give yourself. 

Moralizing all men resent; from experience they learn 
without a murmur. Why is it that the story's lessons 
so readily go home if not because its teaching method is 
so near to that by which the earliest and most important 
lessons of every-day life are learned ? It is at root but 
learning by the experience of another. The story 
what is it but a bit of life translated into words ? If the 
story is your own, it is no longer a transcript; it is life 


When you make a story your own and tell it, the listener gets 
the story plus your appreciation of it. Sara Cone Bryant. 

Our first duty to a Bible story is to love it; its effect we may 
leave to the divine Artist. Richard G. Moulton. 

It is not the story in the lesson quarterly that you can build into 
the lives of your class; it is the story in you. Walter L. Hervey. 

But the secret of good story-telling lies not in following rules, 
not in analyzing processes, not even in imitating good models, 
though all these are necessary, but first of all in being full 
full of the story, the picture, the children; and then from being 
morally and spiritually up to concert pitch, which is the true 
source of power in anything. From these come spontaneity; 
what is within must come out; the story tells itself; and out 
of your fullness the children receive. Ibid. 

Christ's words, spoken by Plato or Aristotle, would not have 
been "spirit and life." Marvin R. Vincent. 


Carefully observe the attitude of good story-tellers toward 
the different stories that they tell. Ask your story-telling friends 

[ 91 ] 


what stories they like best, and note whether they are the ones 
that their hearers most enjoy. 

Work up some of your own experiences for telling as stories, 
and test their effect. In searching for suitable material con- 
sider such subjects as the happiest experience of your child- 
hood or youth, some conscious wrong-doing which brought you 
suffering or repentance, some great sorrow of your life and its 
lessons, the bravest thing that you ever knew a boy or girl to 
do, the most pathetic incident in real life that you ever saw, etc. 

Make similar tests with the stories that you have greatly 
enjoyed, or which have greatly influenced you, if necessary 
cutting down and condensing whole novels to suitable length 
for telling. 


1. Sources of power in the story itself. 

a. Concreteness and definiteness of teaching. 

b. Interest in the lesson as so presented. 

c. Appeal to the feelings which prompt to action. 

2. The influence of the story-teller's own response to the 

3. Some ways of gaining this added power. 

a. Faithful study of the story. 

b. Going to original sources. 

c. Telling one's own stories. 


Richard T. Wyche, The Story Hour, Vol. I, No. I, pp. 12-14;; 

No. 6, pp. 8-12. 
Sara Cone Bryant, Stories to Tell to Children, pp. ix-xii. 

[92 1 



" WHERE can I find good stories ? " is one of the first 
and most insistent questions that the beginner asks. 
When he has fully developed the true story-teller's 
spirit he will find them everywhere in novels, history, 
and poetry; in the magazines, and even in the daily 
papers; in his own past, and in the lives of his friends. 
Knowing that whatever brings a message to him may 
carry a message to another, he will translate his own 
experiences, whether they come by way of reading or 
of life, into story form, and will not lack material. In 
most of us, however, the attitude of mind that makes 
this possible must grow. It feeds upon the reading or 
hearing of well-told tales, and finds exercise for its im- 
maturity in the telling of stories that have already been 
given form by others. 

The following suggestions are designed to aid beginners 
in this way but not for that alone. It would be the 
height of folly for any teacher, however skilful he may be 
in discovering new material, to ignore the old favorites 
that have become such simply because they have ap- 
pealed so strongly to many generations of men. These 
the teacher should use not simply for his own training, 
but as well because they are the racial heritage of each 
new generation of children. 

The effort to prepare a universally satisfactory list of 
stories for use in moral and religious education would be 
[93 ] 


a hopeless task, because of the varying tastes of those who 
would be expected to use it. The last chapter in this 
book pointed out the fact that the choice of the best 
stories for a particular teacher's use is an intensely per- 
sonal matter. The writer feels satisfied if he finds two 
stories that he cares to use in his teaching work in one of 
the collections of the average kind. Others, without 
doubt, will gather a larger harvest, for they will bring 
other interests to the choice, and will apply other stand- 
ards which are quite as worthy as his own. Since the 
selection of stories must be so largely a matter of indi- 
vidual choice, collections of stories rather than particular 
tales will be mentioned here. 

The chief difficulties that appear in the preparation 
of such a bibliography are due to the superabundance 
of material. The most useless list that could be prepared 
would be one that contained all the material that is avail- 
able. The number of titles would be confusing, and many 
books selected at random from among them by the teacher 
would have little value for the experienced story-teller 
and still less for the beginner. Hence the aim will be to 
select a few of the best books from a number of groups, 
keeping the needs of the novice especially in mind. 

A considerable number of lists of stories, designed 
chiefly for the use of teachers and those in charge of 
children's libraries, have been published. A good 
bibliography of these lists is found in Helps in Library 
Work with Children, which may be obtained free of 
charge by application to the State Board of Education, 
The Capitol, Hartford, Conn. 

Special mention should be made of the magazine, The 
Story Hour, both as a source of stories and as a help on 
methods of story-telling. It is published at a subscription 
price of jjii.oo per year at 3320 Nineteenth St., N. W., 
Washington, D. C. 

[94 ] 


Among the lists of stories and of collections of stories 
most likely to be serviceable to those who will seek in- 
formation from this list are the following: 

Index to Short Stories, by Grace E. Salisbury and Marie 
E. Beckwith; Rowe, Peterson & Co., Chicago, 1907; 
$.50. Stories are alphabetically indexed according 
to the subjects, with references to the books in 
which they are found. There are 22 stories on 
courage, 24 on contentment, 49 on Christmas, 6 on 
gratitude, 19 on kindness, 3 on courtesy, etc. Sev- 
eral hundred topics appear in the list. 

A List of Good Stones to Tell to Children Under Twelve 
Years of Age, Carnegie Library of Pittsburg, $.05. 
There are references to books in which the stories 
may be found. The list includes 25 Bible stories, 
16 fables, 14 myths, 14 Christmas stories, 7 Thanks- 
giving stories, etc. 

Finding List of Fairy Tales and Folk Stories, Boston 
Public Library, 1908; $.05. About 100 volumes are 
indexed in this list. 

Selected Books for Boys, by C. B. Kern; Y. M. C. A. 
Press, New York, 1907, $.15. An annotated list of 
books, chiefly for boys between 10 and 16 years of 

Books for Boys; Work with Boys, Dec. 1909, Fall River, 
Mass.; $.25. A revision of an earlier valuable list. 

Annotated Book List for the Use of Probation Officers 
of the Marion County juvenile Court, Indianapolis. 
The moral aim is dominant here. 

Books That Girls Like, Brooklyn Public Library. 

Two good general collections of stories of various kinds 
and for children of various ages, well selected and very well 
told, are found in How to Tell Stories to Children and 
[ 95 ] 


Stories to Tell to Children, both by Sara Cone Bryant; 
published by Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston; $1.00 
each. Both books contain valuable suggestions on 


Jesus the Carpenter and Joseph the Dreamer, by Robert 
Bird; Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York, 1901; 
$1.50 each. Rarely beautiful diction in the descrip- 
tive passages and beautiful feeling throughout. 
Many of the stories are not suitable for children. 

Children's Treasury of Bible Stories, by Mrs. Herman 
Gaskoin; Macmillan & Co., New York, 1896; $.90. 
Very good. 

Child's Christ Tales, by Andrea Hofer Proudfoot; pub- 
lished by the author, Chicago; $1.00. The stories 
are well told for children of kindergarten age. 

Kindergarten Bible Stories, by Laura E. Cragin; Fleming 
H. Revell, New York, 1905; $1.25. Fifty-six of the 
Old Testament stories. There is a companion volume 
of New Testament stories. 

Old Stories of the East, by James Baldwin; American 
Book Co., New York & Chicago, 1896; $.45. Fresh 
and interesting versions of the familiar Old Testament 


The familiar collections of the Grimm brothers, of 
Andrew Lang, and of Joseph Jacobs contain the cream 
of the old favorites. Many among those found in these 
books will not be useful for moral education, but a 
considerable number will well serve the teacher's pur- 
pose. Fresher material will be found in the following 
books : 

[ 96] 


The Dwarfs 9 Tailor and other Fairy Tales by Zoe Dana 
Underbill; published by Harper & Brothers, New 
York, 1896; $1.75. Contains 22 stories, several 
unusually good ones among them. 

Nature Myths and Stories, by Flora J. Cooke; Ginn & 
Co., Boston, 1895; ^.40. There are a number of 
good stories for the teacher's use. 

Many good folk-tales may be found by searching the 
reports of the U. S. Bureau of Ethnology and other an- 
thropological literature. A large number of especially 
good tales of this class will be found among the Marchen 
that appear in the easy German texts prepared for use in 
high schools. D. C. Heath & Co. of Boston publish 
a number of these that are especially good. 


The Story Hour, by Kate Douglas Wiggin; Houghton, 
Mifflin & Co., Boston, 1899; $.80. Good stories 
and a suggestive introduction on story-telling. 

In the Child's World, by Emilie Poulsson; Milton Bradley 
Co., Springfield, Mass., 1893; $2.00. 

Half a Hundred Stories for the Little People, by various 
authors; Milton Bradley Co., Springfield, Mass.; 


Hawthorne's Wonder Tales and Kingsley's Greek Heroes 
may be found in many editions. Fresher material or 
special adaptations may be found in the following books: 

In Mythland, by M. Helen Beckwith; Educational Pub- 
lishing Co., Boston, 1896; $.40. Greek myths told 
for children of kindergarten grade. 
[ 97 ] 


Stories of the Red Children, by Dorothy Brooks; Educa- 
tional Publishing Co., Boston, 1896; $.40. These 
are American Indian myths told for children of 
kindergarten and primary grades. 

Norse Stories Retold from the Eddas, by Hamilton Wright 
Mabie; Dodd, Mead & Co., N. Y., 1882; $1.80. 


Fables and Folk Stories, edited by H. E. Scudder; 

Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston, 1882; $.50. 
JEsop's Fables, edited by Joseph Jacobs; Macmillan 

Co., New York; 181.50. 


Child's Book of Saints, by William Canton; E. P. Dutton, 

New York, 1907; $.75. 
Book of Legends, by H. E. Scudder; Houghton, Mifflin 

& Co., Boston, 1900; ^.50. 

Many good legends that are suitable for telling as 
stories will be found in the poems of Longfellow, Tenny- 
son, and other poets. 


Many especially good allegorical stories are found in 
The Golden Windows and The Silver Crown by Laura E. 
Richards; Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1906; $.75 each. 
Every teacher should know these charming stories. 
They are as near perfection as any of their class that can 
be found. Some are very suitable for young children, 
but the majority are better suited to use with adolescents 
and adults. 


* * * * , * 


Parables from Nature, by Mrs. Gatty, which may be 
found in a number of editions, contains many good 
allegorical stories. 

Story-Tell Lib, by Annie Trumbull Slosson; Charles 
Scribner's Sons, New York, 1902; #.50. Half a 
dozen very good allegorical stories told in rustic dialect. 


Book of Golden Deeds, by Charlotte Yonge; various edi- 
tions. Many splendid tales of heroic deeds. 

Plutarch's Lives of Illustrious Men, which may be 
found in various editions, contains much valuable ma- 
terial. The stories will require much selection and con- 


Many stories of this class will be found among those 
contained in the books mentioned above, particularly 
among the hero-stories and legends. History, biog- 
raphy, and the standard novels will afford much such 
material. Servants of the King, by Robert E. Speer; 
published by the Young People's Missionary Movement, 
New York, 1909, contains eleven stories of the lives of 
Christian missionaries. They were prepared especially 
for young people in middle adolescence, and are well 
suited to their purpose. 

Of the making of books there is no end. 

Give me not scenes more charming; give me eyes 
To see the beauty that around me lies; 



To see the shine of souls, see angels shy 
Among the faces of the passers-by. 
I do not ask for sweeter music than 
The common, daily Symphony of Man. 

Stories are the natural soul-food of children, their native air 
and vital breath; but our children are too often either story- 
starved or charged with ill-chosen or ill-adapted twaddle-tales. 
G. Stanley Hall. 


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