“Environmental Storytelling” has become a popular subset of the storytelling world, but until recently, there was little agreement about what it was or how to do it. In this Blog follow-up to my interview on the Storytelling With Children Podcast, I will provide a definition for “environmental storytelling,” describe what makes a good nature or environmental story, and give some resources for environmental stories.
What Is Environmental Storytelling?
Environmental storytelling is the act of using live narrative performance to teach an audience about the natural world, how it works, and how to care for it.
What is an Environmental Story?
An environmental story is a story that either teaches listeners about some aspect of the natural world (why bears have short tails or why rocks don’t move) or teaches an ecological lesson like (Everything is Connected, Everything Goes Somewhere, There’s No Such Thing As A “Free Lunch”). Many “Why” stories fall into this category, including: Why Bear Has A Short Tail (Norway), Why Robin’s Have Red Breasts (Ireland), and Why The Sky Is Up So High (Nigeria). Stories that talk about greed, selfishness, or wastefulness also often fall into this category.
What Makes For A Good Environmental Story?
A good environmental story for you to tell is a story that:
—You love to tell, since you can’t tell a story well if you don’t love it
—Explains something about nature in a surprising, but appropriate way
—Is a good lead-in to talking about the science of animals and plants
Where Can I Find Good Environmental Stories?
This my website, containing articles on storytelling and text versions of several nature stories
This the storytelling website of “Earth Teller” and Biologist Fran Stallings. Fran tells environmental “fact tales” and true nature stories guaranteed to enlighten and inspire
- Hamilton, Martha and Mitch Weiss. How & Why Stories. Little Rock: August House (1999).
A good source of “pourquoi” or “why” stories from around the world.
- Miller, Candace ed. Tales from the Bird Kingdom. Lima: Pourquoi Press (1996).
Miller, Candace ed. Tales from the Creature Kingdom. Lima: Pourquoi Press (1997).
These are two of the best sources for a large number of animal stories from around the world. Each book contains 160 summaries of stories. The best way to order these books is to contact the press directly via email at ìî or at Pourquoi Press, 439 S. Cole St., Lima, OH 45805-3366.
- Strauss, Kevin. Tales with Tails: Storytelling The Wonders of the Natural World. Westport: Libraries Unlimited (2006).
This book has been called the “textbooks for environmental storytelling.” It contains 64 European, African, Asian and original environmental stories, sciences information about the animals and plants in the stories and information about how to tell a story or make a story more environmental.
About the Author:
Award-winning Author and Storyteller Kevin Strauss has been using stories to entertain, educate and inspire children and adults for more than a decade. Based in Rochester, Minnesota, Kevin travels across the Midwest to perform environmental stories at schools, libraries, and community events.
Kevin is the author of three books, including Tales with Tails: storytelling the wonders of the natural world (Libraries Unlimited, 2006), winner of the prestigious national 2008 Storytelling World Award. His other books include the full-color children’s books Loon and Moon, and The Song of the Wolf. He is also the storytelling star on two CDs and two upcoming DVDs.