Gateway to the Classics: Children's Stories and How to Tell Them by J. Berg Esenwein & Marietta Stockard
Children's Stories and How to Tell Them by  J. Berg Esenwein & Marietta Stockard

Front Matter

[Book Cover]


[Title Page]



[Contents Page 1 of 6]

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We cannot wonder at the skeptical smile which in certain quarters is sure to greet each new "How to" book as it issues from the press, for too many such books have seemed arrogant, and too many readers have assumed, to their eventual disappointment, that it is within the power of some omniscient author to disclose an infallible recipe for the successful practice of a given art. Of course no such thing is possible. There are no secrets that a painter, a writer or a story-teller can divulge but that may be, and in fact often have been, discovered at first hand by those who have added to their native gifts the devotion of intelligent practice. What is more, there are no fixed rules in art—in literary art especially—by which the would-be artist must be governed as he proceeds.

What service, then, can the authors of a book of this kind hope to give to those who take it up expecting help? They can, after either personal experience or a wide and temperate study of the methods of others (or, better still, after both kinds of preparation), make a clear statement of the various methods used successfully by story-tellers—since that is the scope of this treatise. From these methods, approved by the experience of many, certain simple foundation-principles may be deduced so as to help the student of the art to understand the material he has to work with, the forms in which it may be cast, various successful methods of presentation, the limitations of his hearers, and the ends he is justified in seeking to gain. Further, these principles may be clearly illustrated by examples so as to show, first, how others have applied them; and second, how the story-teller may modify and improve upon the ways of others in reaching the particular results he desires.

The whole process of teaching such an art may be compared to the Automobile Blue Book, which points out the directness of one route, the delights of another, and the difficulties of a third, while leaving the motorist to choose for himself—knowingly. Those story-tellers who have had to search out their own trails through Storyland freely recognize that they would have been saved many a detour, many a "blind" lane, if only some earlier traveler had erected a few friendly guide posts.

This, then, is a modest little Blue Book, which analyzes the several ways that lie before the adventurer into the delightful fields of romance, offers advice on matters of equipment, points out difficult curves, warns of deceptive byways, and seeks, without the interjection of a single impertinent must, to help the traveler choose his own way with confident ease.

The use of story-telling in home, school, Sunday-school and recreation center is now so fully recognized as a powerful factor in education, in character building and in delight-giving, that no words are needed here to urge upon home, school and social guardians the importance of learning how to tell the best stories in the best ways.

The Authors.

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