Of all the storytelling techniques for children you might have practiced, the most important technique is “be ready for anything.” You have to be prepared with an assortment of stories when storytelling for children.
Years ago, I had been hired to tell stories to a group of children at a local library. I was told to expect kids of roughly ages 6-8. For me, that age is about the youngest that I feel I can be effective with as a storyteller for children that are not family.
When the audience started to arrive at the library, they were not the older children I was expecting but rather just-barely-beyond-toilet-trained toddlers, who had much of their focus spent on their “big boy pants” (the pull-up pants that are a version of very absorbent underpants) and the exciting-to-a-child Velcro(tm) strips on their shoes.
All of my prepared stories were geared for the listening and participative skills of children older than the little ones before me. I had to dig deep into my mental repertoire of stories and games to entertain this very young crowd. The kids, parents, librarians and I had a good time but it was the longest 25 minutes of my life!
Events with children are always in flux. Noise levels change, children wiggle and stand, cry and shout, listen or wander. I have learned that the posted age-range for public events is usually ignored by parents and caregivers. Even in schools, the schedule can change in a moment and you might find yourself with a different age group than expected.
Be flexible and have a wide variety of stories to tell when storytelling for children.