THE STORY HOUR
A Magazine of Methods and Materials for Story Tellers
VOL. INOVEMBER, 1908NO. 1
Published Monthly (ten times a year) at Washington, D. C.
Copyright, 1908, by M. E. Sloane. All rights reserved.
William C. Ruediger, Ph. D., Editor
Division of Education, George Washington University
Richard T. Wyche, Consulting Editor
President National Story Tellers’ League
Mersene E. Sloane, Founder and Publisher
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OFFICERS OF THE NATIONAL STORY-TELLERS’ LEAGUE
- Honorary President, Hamilton Wright Mabie
- President, Richard T. Wyche, 501 W. 120th Street, New York
- Secretary, Dr. Richard M. Hodge, Teachers’ College, Columbia University, New York
- Treasurer, Mr. W. H. Keister, Harrisonburg, Va.
- Dr. P. P. Claxton, Knoxville, Tenn.
Professor Education, University of Tenn. Superintendent Summer School of the South
- Miss Annie Laws, Cincinnati, Ohio
President Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs
- Miss Maud Summers, Cincinnati, Ohio
Superintendent Kindergarten Training School
- Miss Anna C. Tyler, New York City
- Dr. Richard M. Hodge
- Mr. W. H. Keister
- Mr. Richard T. Wyche
- Dr. G. Stanley Hall, President Clark University
- Dr. Henry Van Dyke, Princeton University
- Miss Elizabeth Brown, City Schools, Washington
- Dr. Jennie B. Merrill, Supervisor Kindergartens, New York City
- Dr. A. Fortier, Tulane University, New Orleans
- Dr. C. W. Kent, University of Virginia
- Wharton S. Jones, Assist. Supt. Public Schools, Memphis, Tenn.
- Dr. J. E. McKean, Home Study Courses, Northwestern University
- Supt. B. C. Gregory, Supt. of Schools, Chelsea, Mass.
- Miss Elizabeth Harrison, Pres. Chicago Kindergarten College
- Miss Marian S. Henckle, Kindergarten Training School, Charleston, S. C.
- Miss Pearl Carpenter, Covington, Ky.
- Mrs. A. W. Cooley, University of North Dakota
- Miss Elizabeth J. Black, Greensboro, N. C.
- Dr. W. C. Ruediger, Division of Education, George Washington University
THE STORY HOUR
VOL. INOVEMBER, 1908NO. 1
EDITOR’S AND PUBLISHER’S NOTES
With this issue a new magazine under the title of The Story Hour begs leave to enter the arena of Journalism. It is published in the cause of story-telling in the home, school, Sunday School, playground and social gathering.
Although the art of story-telling is old, its general recognition as an educational agency is new. Many teachers are already making good use of it and we do not hesitate in saying that its usefulness will increase and will henceforth occupy a permanent place in teaching.
The Story Hour owes its origin to an editorial in The World’s Work of last July, giving a brief account of the Story Tellers’ League movement. The attention of the publisher was called to that editorial as something in which he would be especially interested. Having been a teacher, and also a newspaper man and a publisher, he at once saw the field for a magazine to give a definiteness and coherence to the story-telling movement that could hardly obtain without a periodical representative.
The plan of such a publication was at once outlined, and after some indirect correspondence he got in communication with Mr. Richard T. Wyche, president of the National Story Tellers’ League. Mr. Wyche came to Washington and after several interviews the magazine was launched with William C. Ruediger, of George Washington University, as Editor, and Mr. Wyche as consulting editor.
The detailed labor required to start a new magazine is greater than may appear on the surface. But it is a work in which all three of the staff are earnestly interested, and the4 labor is cheerfully done. No salaries are attached, and the subscription price barely covers the cost of publication. Our reward is in the satisfaction of furthering a good cause, until such time as later developments may bring something more.
The co-operation of all League people is confidently anticipated. A high standard will be maintained throughout. There may be some delays incident to the starting of a new project, but when an ample supply of material is in hand, as there soon will be, the magazine will go out promptly.
The informational feature of this issue has trespassed on the space belonging to stories and to special articles, but this will not be the case in the future. Particular attention will be given to the classic stories from all times and places, but new or modern stories suitable for telling will not be neglected. So far as we can, we shall concentrate the stories of each number about single topics. The next number will contain several Christmas stories, one being from the pen of Mr. Wyche. Other numbers will be devoted respectively to Bible stories, Japanese stories, nature myths, star myths, Norse tales, history stories, Indian legends, etc.
Readers of The Story Hour will appreciate the statement that Mr. Richard T. Wyche, President of the National Story Tellers’ League, will present a series of articles to run through the year, on “Stories and How to Use Them,” of which the first installment appears in this number. Mr. Wyche is an acknowledged leader in the new story-telling movement. His ability and experience insure a series of articles of prime importance to the cause, and of rare interest and value to all who are engaged in story-telling in any of its forms.
This initial number of The Story Hour, as announced in advance, is designed for special informational use. People in all parts of the country are learning of the new educational5 story-telling movement and are making inquiry regarding details. This number of the magazine answers many of the questions, and further information will appear in succeeding numbers.
The importance of story-telling as a factor in the uplift of the young is recognized by the leaders in the great playground movement. At the Second Annual Congress of the Playground Association of America, held in New York City, September 8-12, this year, some prominence was given to the story-telling feature of playground work. A special joint committee composed of members of the National Playground Association and the National Story Tellers’ League had the consideration of this topic. Of this committee Miss Maude Summers was chairman, and Dr. Grant Karr was secretary.
It was one of the most enthusiastic committees of the Congress. So interested were its members, that long after the hour for adjournment it continued in session. An extra meeting was held one evening for story-telling.
Miss Summers gave an address before a general meeting of the Congress. Several of her remarks made a noticeable impression, and the press of the country has since then been quoting and commenting on certain things she said, particularly wherein she scored the Sunday comic supplements and urged the telling of good stories instead.
Through the courtesy of Miss Summers, The Story Hour is enabled, in this number, to present the text of her paper read before the playground congress.
The article on “The Traveling Story Tellers of the Northland,” by Anna Bogenholm Sloane, is the forerunner of several contributions promised from her pen. Her familiarity with the lore of the Northland is first-hand.
In our next number there will be an article on the origin and growth of Junior Leagues that will be helpful in suggestions to those who wish to establish such leagues among the children.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY MR. WYCHE
During the past year, a number of letters of inquiry have come to me in response to articles that have appeared in magazines and newspapers, asking for information in regard to the National Story Tellers’ League. So numerous have been the letters asking for information and circulars that it has been impossible to supply the demand, and the issuing of a booklet or publication of some kind by the League has become a necessity.
Among the letters that came to me in August was one from Mersene E. Sloane of Washington, D. C., offering to publish in the interest of the League movement, a little magazine. I immediately took up the matter with him and after several visits to Washington we secured in William C. Ruediger, of the Division of Education, George Washington University, an editor for the proposed magazine.
When we think of the thousands of teachers, kindergartners, children’s librarians, Sunday School teachers, playground workers and parents, whose high privilege it is to tell stories to children, surely there seems a field for such a magazine as is here proposed. Since the beginning of the National League, we have felt the need of just such a medium of communication.
I shall do all I can for the magazine and assist in keeping it up to the highest and best in life and literature. I commend to League members, local and national, and all interested, the efforts of editor and publisher. Their work in behalf of the magazine is, and will be for some time, largely a labor of love. I ask that you send in not only your subscriptions, but reports from your Leagues, items of interest, stories and papers on story-telling. What you are doing will be suggestive and inspiring to others, especially those just beginning the work.
In merging the booklet that the National League was to issue into the magazine, I trust it will have the hearty support of all the Leagues and further the cause of The Story Hour.
Richard Thomas Wyche,
President, National Story Tellers’ League.
ARTICLE NUMBER ONE
Once upon a time the writer undertook to teach a little school in a far-off seacoast town in the South. The little village was on a sandy bluff overlooking the sound and the sea. Cut off from the main land by an impossible swamp in the rear, yet shut out from the great Atlantic by an ever-shifting sand bar that lay for leagues along the sea coast, it gave the little town an ideal harbor of shallow water, the home of fishermen and oystermen whose cottages were scattered for miles along the sea coast.
Being isolated the inhabitants were compelled to rely upon themselves and in doing this had developed a solidarity of community life and a manhood and womanhood of purity and simplicity that was as refreshing as the breezes that ever swept its shores.
Amid such surroundings I began to teach, and it was my first experience. Not having libraries or lectures to help me, I too must depend on self.
I had never studied pedagogy and knew nothing of teaching except that which I had seen in the university lecture rooms. The teacher who preceded me “heard” lessons and the children “said” lessons. That seemed an easy proposition, for the questions were in the book and the children could memorize and say the answers.
But I soon discovered that the children found no interest in the fact that one word was a verb and another a noun. They memorized the rules and repeated the lessons, but they were not at all interested in the subject. They were bored by this mechanical process, and so was the teacher. Something must be done. One day I told the class the story of8 “Hiawatha’s Fishing.” Every child listened with rapt attention. I had found something that they were interested in. I requested the children to write the story out for their lessons the next day. The majority of them did so, and read the story as they had understood and written it down. One little fellow said, “I ain’t got no pencil,”—which meant that he didn’t write it. “Tell it then,” I said. He told it in such a vivid and realistic way that the class applauded. I had found something that the child liked. The second day I told the story of “Hiawatha’s Fasting,” then “Hiawatha’s Friends,” and so on, two stories a week, until we had told the whole story of Hiawatha.
But you ask “What did that have to do with grammar?” From the story we got the nouns and verbs we studied and the sentences that the advanced classes analyzed and studied. (The whole school heard the story, it being an ungraded school with classes ranging from primary to high school.)
What else did we do with the story? Let us see. When the children told the story orally or on paper it was creative work, and better for expression than memorizing “Mary had a little lamb.” The child received a mental picture. He heard the story, and retelling it in his own words he created afresh the picture, thereby becoming a creator and an artist himself. In reciting “Mary had a little lamb” he was dealing with words. In telling the story he was dealing with mental images.
One day I saw the children playing out on the campus, and on making inquiries they said, “We are playing Hiawatha and Mondamin and Old Nokomis.” They were dramatizing the story. It was taking effect. Had I been a trained teacher I would have let them do it in class as a part of their work. Twice a week we got the words for our spelling lesson from the story. The children were so much interested in Hiawatha that they wanted to make pictures of Hiawatha. Then I let them illustrate the story, writing in9 their composition books the story, and illustrating it. As we studied geography, the upper Mississippi Valley and the Lake Regions all took on new meaning because Hiawatha had once lived, toiled, and suffered there.
But what had I done for those children most of all? I had fed their souls,—given them a masterpiece of literature. Starting with the childhood of Hiawatha we had followed him and admired him. We had roamed through that fairy land of dark green forest; heard the whispering pines, saw Hiawatha when he caught the King of Fishers, “Slew the Pearl Feather,” prayed and fasted for his people, punished “Pau-puk-kee-wis,” wooed and won Minnehaha, and when his task was done, sailed away into the fiery sunset.
That something inexpressibly sweet and beautiful that I felt in the vision hour, and longed to impart to the children and heretofore had not been able to, I had at last found incarnate in a hero, while the music, meter, and imagery of poetry had awakened the sense of the beautiful and revealed a new world to the children. New life had come into the school. It had been born again and born from above.
Two months had passed. I had tried an experiment. It had succeeded. Grammar, language, composition, spelling, drawing, story-telling had been taught by that method. Formal language had become linked to literature and thereby to life. The formal had become an expression of the spiritual.
Where could I find another such story? The little goody-goody sissy-prissy stories could not interest us. They all seemed tame in comparison to the sustained effort of a story like Hiawatha. I had discovered that the children could fully appreciate a great story told to them in a living, creative way, and that interest grew each day as we told the long story in sections to the end. The only other hero in literature that I knew in these first years of my experience in teaching was revealed in the story of King Arthur which I10 had recently studied in a university; but, were the Idyls of the King suited to the children? That was the only source of the story available to me at that time and it was more modern, more complicated in every way, and far more difficult to tell than the one we had just finished. After hearing a number of the Hiawatha stories the children could and did read Longfellow’s versions, but not so with the Idyls of the King. While the children fully enjoyed the stories of the Idyl, the style of Tennyson was not suited nor intended for children. All the imagery, heroic deeds and idealism of Hiawatha were there, but in telling this story much must be omitted. Involved plots must be made direct, and the story simplified. This required much more preparation on the part of the teacher, but we must have another story. It would not do to let the school fall back into the dead rut of lesson hearing, and though I feared they could not appreciate the Arthurian story yet I would try. I began with the finding of a naked babe on the beach, the childhood of Arthur, Merlin’s work, the sword Excalibur, and Arthur’s coronation.
At first the children were not so much interested. Their minds were still on Hiawatha and his deeds; they were loath to leave him. But gradually as I told of Arthur and his deeds, Gareth and Lynette, Geraint and Enid, Lancelot and Elaine, the Quest of the Holy Grail, The Flight of Guinevere, the Passing of Arthur, the interest grew, and at times became intense, especially among the larger boys and girls. The story was coming home to them. King Arthur was a man like ourselves, of our own race. The whole story had brought the children face to face with a great ideal, Arthur, the blameless man. Pure himself, he demanded it in his knights, and bound them by vows of obedience to their conscience and their king. He defended the weak against the wicked; broke up the robbers’ dens and cleansed the land; led his knights in brave deeds, for it is said that when11 the fire of God filled him none could stand against him in battle. He enjoyed the athletic sports and the tourneys, yet was so gentle, they said his ways were sweet.
As with Hiawatha the story was reproduced, illustrated, correlated with English history and geography, and at the same time it furnished the most excellent material for ethical and æsthetic culture. After the last story was told, the Passing of Arthur, and the children saw with Sir Bedivere, the King pass with the three tall queens in a barge over the sea, they stood in wonder gazing on the splendor of his passing. Defeated in the last weird battle in the West, yet he was victorious in his ideals for he became the spiritual king of his race.
“From the great deep to the great deep he goes,” the children heard but did not quite understand. It was the better for that because it awakened in the child something of the mystery of life and death. In that it served the highest purpose. It helped the child to realize that there are things in life that eye has not seen nor ear heard. Let it not be forgotten that while we use these great stories for formal work, the formal was always the result of the creative. “The letter killeth; the spirit giveth life.” Thus it was that children and teacher left the low plains of the “lesson hearer” and hand in hand walked the upland pastures of the soul.
This is not offered as a model method for teaching, but it is given to reveal the writer’s view-point and the source of his inspiration for these chapters.
THE STORY IN FORMAL WORK
The formal must be an expression of the spiritual else it is not art. This is true whether the idea is expressed in words, wood or iron. To do formal work whether it be oral retelling, composition, illustrating or dramatization of a story apart from the spirit is deadening to the child. The letter killeth, the spirit giveth life is true in language and literature as well as religion. Herein is the great possibility for the12 development of individuality,—letting the child’s life develop after the laws of its nature and not after arbitrary laws forced upon him from above. This is the pivotal point in all our work.
No poet, painter, sculptor, builder, musician, writer or worker of any kind has ever done abiding work who did it apart from the spirit. It is a child’s nature to sing, play, dance or reproduce in some way that which impresses him. Impressions must be expressed in order to become a part of us. If the deeds of Siegfried, King Alfred or George Washington impressed the child he will tell about the hero that he admires. Here the wise teacher finds a basis for his formal work. The interest the child has in the deeds of his hero will tide him over the otherwise drudgery of spelling, composition and language forms. The heroic spirit of the hero has become his and he is not afraid of the task. Furthermore, the love he has for the hero makes the story he tells, writes, or the picture he makes of him a sacred task. He must do justice to the ideal hero. The teacher who telling a story has not gotten so near to the hero that he feels the sacredness of his life has not reached the heart of his story. There is no pattern process or method by which this may be done. Day after day as he tells the life story of a great hero he will catch something of the spirit of the man.
To retell a story is not to reproduce the language word for word, just as it was first told, but to recreate it from your view point. When the child tells a story therefore do not stop him and say, “you did not mention so and so,” breaking up the mental picture process and confusing the child with non-essential facts such as pronunciation, incorrect grammar and so on. Nothing could be more deleterious and destructive to the creative spirit. Put yourself in the child’s place. Could you tell a story if in your presence there was a superior to criticise your words and pronunciation?
No, let the child have the floor. It is his audience. He is responsible for their attention. Stand with head uncovered13 in the presence of this child artist and orator. Through the story he is giving back to you the world as he sees it and understands it, creating it afresh and telling what it means to him. When you told the story to him it was your message to him; now it is his message to you and to the class. Gradually, as he retells and reproduces stories, the artistic sense grows upon him,—unity, essential points, climax, finish and so on. Naturally as the child gives back his story he will leave out some points originally in the story, they are not essential to his purpose, he is giving his interpretation, and enlarging upon others and actually bringing in new points not originally in the story, but essential to his view point.
The teacher who with rude hands stops the child and says “That is not the way it is in the book or the way I told it,” makes of the child an imitator and not a creator; thwarts at the very outset one of the greatest educational advantages of story reproduction. We do not want to make the child tell a story as the teacher would, but in his own way thereby giving to his work individuality. He is a separate ego and through his personality is giving a new relation of the Divine. Day by day as he hears the teacher and the children of his class tell stories he will get standards of comparison by which he may measure his own work and improve it. Correct grammar and pronunciation? yes, but not here. The speaker, preacher or orator makes mistakes, but he would despise you, and the audience would be disgusted, if you stopped him in his speech to correct grammar. His message and the atmosphere he brings are the essentials. All else should be forgotten for the time. So it should be with the child before the class. He is the orator to reveal to you and the class the world as he sees it. For the time being sit at his feet and help him produce the atmosphere necessary for the telling of the story.
Art comes from within, not from without. Do not force, do not fuss; be quiet; wait for the child to hear the still small14 voice within. At first he may be timid; it is an untried world for him. He, it is true, has caught glimpses of storyland, seen its beauty and felt its enchantment, but others were leading him. Now he must lead others. As he tries he discovers that he and storyland are somehow very near to each other. As he spreads the wings of his imagination, to his delight, he can fly like Peter Pan, leap and run in this storyland. And soon he will be in the wigwam with Hiawatha or sailing the high seas with Ulysses or slaying the dragon with Siegfried. Such work comes both to child and teacher like a benediction. And the teacher remembers and sees new meaning in the words of the Hebrew prophet “And a little child shall lead them.”
EDUCATIONAL STORY TELLING
BY DR. CHARLES A. McMURRAY
Good story-telling is no longer a matter of mere entertainment. It is steadily growing into an important instrument of education. Children in earlier years, before they can use books freely and independently, are capable of receiving a strong contribution to their spiritual life and equipment by hearing the rehearsal in fitting form, of the world’s best stories. It is not merely that in this manner many of the large culture ideas can best be transmitted from generation to generation, but the mental awakening, the planting of seed-thoughts, the stimulation of mental energies are brought about. The monotony and drudgery of school work are apt to produce a sluggish mental life; the oral handling of the best stories is like a trumpet call to many a young soul awakening it out of its sluggishness and putting the vital forces into a stronger movement. It is first of all necessary that teachers should catch this spirit and receive the full force of this awakening, but a study of the stories themselves have proven in many cases to produce this result.
In The World’s Work for July, 1908, was an editorial written from materials supplied by members of the National Story Tellers’ League. As it gave an account of the starting of the movement, we quote part of it here, answering thereby some of the queries that are constantly being received concerning the League. Further details on this subject will appear in subsequent numbers of this magazine. The editorial cited was as follows:
The Story Tellers’ League had its beginning during the summer of 1903 at the Summer School of the South, at the State University, Knoxville, Tenn. Out of the more than 2,000 teachers there, a group frequently met on the lawn at twilight to tell stories. These meetings had a serious purpose, but they were free and informal. The teachers sat on the grass, and each one told a story as she might feel disposed. Superintendent B. C. Gregory wrote subsequently:
“The Summer School left many a pretty photograph on my memory but the sweetest is that of the Story Tellers’ League. The fading twilight, the dreamy quiet of the hour, the overshadowing trees, the circle of faces, the repressed tone of voice of the story tellers appealed wonderfully to me.
“And the child, the being to whom the service was dedicated, was always in mind. When the darkness had fallen so that the form of the story teller was all but invisible, the effect was heightened. We always adjourned quietly as if we feared the gentle influences would vanish if we were noisy.”
The attendance at these meetings grew from dozens to hundreds and before the Summer School closed a formal organization had been effected. The purpose of the league was to discover in the world’s literature, in story, and in life the best stories for education and to tell them with love and sympathy for the children, and to bring together in story circles those who love to hear and tell a good story, the kindergartners, teachers, church workers, children’s librarians,16 and those whose hearts are afire with this work that they might impart its spirit to others.
Dr. G. Stanley Hall, speaking of the movement soon after it was organized said:
“Teachers and parents are prone to forget that the education of the race in a very significant sense began with story telling. Before writing there was only oral tradition. We are assured that some of the Indian story tellers carry in their memory not less than one hundred thousand lines of poetry. Some of them are dull and uninteresting through the day, but when the camp-fires are lighted and they begin to weave the wondrous charm of ‘once upon a time,’ they take their hearers captive and lead them as with the magic flute of the Piper of Hamlin. Stories live from the tongue to the ear and not on the long circuit from the eye to the fingers as reading and writing do. Therefore they are more vital. Stories pre-form moral choices because, if they are good, desert is always rewarded. Moreover, a good story brings the mind of the hearer into more unity than almost anything else. A vast number of persons and incidents are woven together all subject to one dominant interest. In these days of correlation and co-ordination of educational material, the value of this can readily be appreciated. Most, if not all, of the best of the oldest literature that is classic, such as the Vedas, the work of Homer, the Nibelungenlied, the King Arthur cycle, lived and moved and had their being as stories and were thus slowly shaped into their present effective form. Indeed, I almost think that if I were Plato’s wise tyrant and had to appoint teachers of the young, the first test, and if I could have but one, the only one to which I would subject candidates would be whether or not they could tell a good story; for this alone would test their sympathy and power of adaptation. There is a great possibility of development here, and in the few who are devoting themselves to it, as are the Story Tellers’ League, I not only wish but predict a a very high degree of help and service.”
Those who went out from the inspiration of those meetings were quick to seize upon its educational possibilities, and returning home organized their friends and pupils into local leagues for similar work and pleasure.
On visiting a Southern town the following winter, the Superintendent of the Schools declared that he had noticed a great improvement in the teaching of history and literature among his teachers, and he attributed it to a league that they had organized. During the winter they had made a study of17 Norse and Greek stories which they told around their firesides. Similar leagues sprang up in a number of towns in the South, and at Corinth, Miss., there was a junior league, composed of children of the 5th grade. One girl, who is now in the high school made her home the popular resort of the children of the neighborhood who came to hear her tell stories. She told the better class of stories too, in a spontaneous and creative way, as she would play games. The work has made her life a radiant one.
Now, there are dozens of such leagues, reaching from New York to Texas. The interest the children take in the work reveals one of the greatest educational possibilities, for as a child likes to build a house with clay, sand, or wood, and in doing so educates himself, so he likes to take a word here and a phrase there, and with voice and gesture build an ideal world, peopling it with life as he sees it. When a child or an adult retells stories that they have heard or read, they show reflection, meditation, self-reliance, creation, growth. A story never really becomes your own until you tell it to someone else.
Even before Magnus Ladulos introduced the titles and privileges of nobility as reward for service in war, which started the great baronies in Sweden, a kind of feudal system had been in vogue there from oldest times. The topographical conditions of the country, with its smiling valleys and fertile plains interspersed with numerous streams and rugged mountains was probably responsible for the origin of this system. For these natural barriers, in the absence of modern engineering skill in constructing bridges and tunnelled roads, were more formidable then, and contributed to the isolation of the people and the formation of clans.
The population consisted of only two distinct classes, the freemen and the “thrales,” or serfs. The freemen, or “Odalmen,” as they were called, owned the soil they tilled. The country was sparely settled, so that there was some distance between the homesteads of the odalmen. These homesteads were somewhat imposing, housing not only the odalman and his family, but also a number of house men, as they were called—fighting men and strong, a sort of guard of the fireside. Besides these were a number of thrales, or servants. Because of continual strife between the different petty kings of the country, the odalmen’s homes were never safe from attack by one party or another, hence the necessity of having as large house guards as could be afforded.
During the long and severe winter when fighting and warfare were impracticable life in the odalmen’s homesteads would have been monotonous, were it not for the relief afforded by the traveling story tellers, or “skalds,” for that19 was long before the day of the school, the book and the periodical. From the hall of the kings to the burgs of the jarls [corresponding to governors of small districts], from the baronial castles to the odalmen’s homesteads, traveled the skalds and the bards narrating old legends and relating the latest gossip, singing old songs and improvising new ones, recounting the deeds of valor and prowess on the battlefield and in the tournament, singing the praises of beauty and chivalry, and rhyming on drinking bouts and feasting. Not only within the bounds of Sweden did they travel, but over continental Europe as well, entertaining one people with the songs and legends and tales of another. Thus are the stories and lore of the different European countries considerably intermixed. For, when the stories the traveling skalds told of the great deeds of other countries were repeated by their listeners, much local coloring was added until gradually the stories of foreign lands became their own. In this way the Swedes have adopted the stories of Germany and France, and in like manner those countries have adopted some of the Swedish legends and hero tales until the old literature of nearly all European countries record nearly the same events, each nation giving to the stories the characteristics of its own temperament and environment.
The traveling story teller was the most welcome and honored guest in every home. He was the newspaper, the theatre, the concert and music hall combined into one. He brought to the fireside glimpses of the outside world, wreathed weather-beaten faces with smiles and made the roof beams return the echo of hearty laughter. At the King’s feasts the skald’s place was next to his majesty. To him was handed the tallest beaker and the fattest slice of pork. The story teller was always invited to witness battles and bouts and tournaments, so that he might afterward recount the deeds of valor in war and the feats of feasting, making heroes live in song and story. It was very much the same20 as now, when the newspaper reporter is invited to the baseball field or to follow the armies of warring nations so as to publish to the world the course of events.
The personal magnetism of the skald went into the account and made the story more vivid and its impression more lasting. Perhaps the overstepping of actual truth in the recounting was as common among the skalds of old as it is among our own modern newspaper reporters. Then as now a good story was wanted, and the better the story he could tell the stouter was the drink the teller received at its ending. So now the more sensational details the reporter can crowd into a murder story the nearer and surer is his promotion in rank and pay. But the old story teller was safer from being found out, and his story was accepted at its face value, which is not always the case with modern newspaper yarns. It is probable that to the tumultuous imagination of the old story tellers is due the astounding deeds of valor and the exaggerated achievements accredited to our forefathers in the legacy of legends that have been handed down from the ancient days.
The first story teller recorded in the Swedish lore is the maid Gifeon, in Odin’s retinue. The tale regarding her is something as follows: When Odin was traveling from Asia to Sweden he stopped for a while in Denmark and in order to propitiate the Swedish King in advance sent Gifeon in a canoe across the strait with instructions to visit King Gylfe’s court and tell the king the most wonderful stories she could compose about the Asas [the Asiatics]. This she did, and so pleased was King Gylfe with her stories that he offered her as a reward as much land, wherever she might choose in his domain, as she could plow in a day. Gifeon secretly obtained the assistance of two giants, who, changing themselves into oxen plowed up all the land where Melar Lake now is and carried the soil southward and dropped it into the sea, off the coast of Scania [the most Southern province of21 Sweden]. Thus was formed the island of Sjelland, the eastern coast of which fits exactly into the formation of the entrance to Lake Melar.
When Gifeon returned to Odin and told him of her success with King Gylfe, he was so delighted that he gave her his son Skjold for a husband. Together Gifeon and Skjold ruled over the newly-made island and became the forbears of a long line of illustrious Danish Kings, called Skjoldungs. Odin went on to Sweden, and because of Gifeon’s wonderful stories he was kindly received by King Gylfe and his people.
The last professional story teller of the old school I know anything about was old man Bror. What his real name was I do not know, for everybody called him “Bror,” the Swedish for brother, and received him as such. He never did anything but travel from place to place, telling the oldest yarns and the latest gossip, interspersing it with fragments of old songs and new tunes from his old violin. Well do I remember the old man and his old white horse, Dollfoot. As a child I loved them both and danced and skipped with glee at the sight of them. When I saw Bror and Dollfoot turn from the country road to the lane leading to our farm, I used to run shouting the news, “Bror is coming, Bror is coming!” to everybody on the estate, and never a face did I see that did not light up or put on a broader smile at my message.
Dear old man Bror! I can see him now sitting contentedly in his blue cariol [a Swedish two-wheeled cart] with the reins in his right hand and the other hand on the fiddle across his knee; his old white head roofed by a nearly equally old broad-brimmed hat, the right ear leaning confidently towards the shoulder while he hums merrily the “Sea-King’s Polska,” and Dollfoot in slow trot keeping time to the beat of his master’s hum! Bror always wore blue knee breeches, white hose, low shoes with silver buckles, and a long blue coat with buttons of silver. His horse and his violin were the22 only loves, the only cares and the only prides the old man had. The buckles of Dollfoot’s harness shone like the buttons of a new lieutenant’s uniform, and the old violin always nestled tenderly under Bror’s left arm.
So long as Bror was able to mount the saddle he rode his horse. After that he drove in the old cariol. For five and thirty years Bror and Dollfoot were boon companions, known to every man, woman and child in the province of the Dales. Then Dollfoot died and his octogenarian master survived but a year. All mourned the mysterious old man and missed his stories. With him passed away, about thirty years ago, the last of the old type of traveling story tellers in Sweden.
We children used to climb up into his lap as soon as he had sat down and clamor for a story. And the tales he told about the giants and fairies; angels and the white Christ; Odin and Thor; Knights and Vikings, stand out like stars in the chaos of stories I have read since. No matter how well-worded and poetic in setting a story may be, its reading from the printed page does not produce as striking an impress upon the young mind as does its oral rendering well done. The life and vigor of the teller’s interpretative inflections, intonations, modulations and movements; the light of the eye and the expressions of feature add a vividness, a reality that deeply impress the child’s mind. The details may be lost in time, but the general form will remain forever. This gives the story teller a very great influence in the character building of the young; for the impulse to courage or generosity or kindliness incited by a story lauding these qualities will never wholly die. On the other hand, evil stories contaminate young minds beyond all human power of effacement.
For the same reason that the phonograph and pianola can never take the place of the singer and musician, the real story teller can not be satisfactorily replaced by books. The personal element is large in the equation. It would be an23 interesting study to inquire into the influence which the professional story tellers of European and other countries exercised, by the coloring their own personalities gave to their stories, over the minds and conduct of the people who for so long a time depended upon them for such mental stimulus as they had.
Between the maid Gifeon and the old man Bror was a long line of skalds of all descriptions—gay and sad, humble and haughty; jovial and rollicking singers; courtly raconteurs and lively comedians. Some spread gaiety in the halls of kings and in the castles of barons. Others carried news to the monastery and parsonage, and the humbler were content to make the rounds of the odalmen’s firesides. All were welcomed with equal heartiness and sped with the same regrets. Perhaps no more picturesque persons have appeared among men, or held a more unique place in human esteem than the traveling story tellers of the Northland.
The playground movement is at its source. This is the time, therefore, to state the underlying principles and to formulate the ideals that shall guide in carrying the movement forward. In the end, the playground as a finished product should give beauty and perfection not only to the body of the child but also to the soul. It should include training in the three H’s of head, heart and hand, as well as training in the three R’s of reverence, respect and responsibility. No lesser ideal will satisfy those who see the possibilities of the playground in adding to the sum of child happiness and betterment. At present, in the playground the chief emphasis is placed upon the development of the body: the story reaches the Spiritual child.
The child learns in but one way by reproducing in his own activity the thing he wishes to be. By means of the imagination the child forms a mental picture which he holds in mind and strives to imitate. Therefore the most vital purpose of the story is to give high ideals which are reproduced in character. In consequence, it is of the utmost importance that the story for the child shall have at its heart a spiritual truth, or in other words that it shall have a right motive. This truth may be any one of the many virtues such as generosity; kindness, hospitality, courage, heroism, chivalry, etc. It should be worked out in terms of cause and effect according to the immutable law of literature, whether this be for the child or the adult. This is the law of compensation, which rewards the good, and retributive justice, which punishes the bad.
The comic supplement of the Sunday newspaper is lowering the standard of literary appreciation and debasing the morals of the children in this country. Here evil is aggrandized and emphasis is placed upon deceit, cunning and25 disrespect for gray hairs. This sheet teaches children to laugh when boys throw water from an upper window upon an apple woman, or outwit an infirm old man. Humor has its place in the literature of childhood and it would be well if gifted writers for children could be found capable of substituting genuine fun for the coarse, vulgar type now so prominent.
When story telling is an integral part of the playground, thoughtful men and women will give careful consideration to story lists which will be carefully compiled from the literature of every age and nation. America has undertaken the mighty problem of the fusion of races. The great national stories that have nourished these people will also nourish the individual child. In consequence folk stories, fairy tales, and hero stories should form a fundamental part of these story lists. These are universal stories which every girl and boy should know. The characters may vary with different ages and people but the fundamental truth is of the spirit, and will outlast the centuries.
Child study reveals the fact that there is the earlier period of childhood, and also the later period of childhood. The games suitable to the needs of the younger children are not adapted to those of the older ones. This same truth should be recognized in the selection of stories. Younger children require a different type of story from that chosen for the older ones. The mathematical axiom that the whole includes the parts explains the fact that the “Grown up” may enjoy and appreciate a child’s story if it is true to the principles of literary art. The young child, however, cannot comprehend the story for the adult since the content is beyond his range of experience. It is necessary, therefore to divide the children into groups based upon age and mental development in order to have success in the art of story telling.
The hours set apart for story-telling in the Playground will vary in different localities and will, of course, depend upon the environment and provision made for this aspect of the26 work. Two story hours a day, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon, might be a good average. In a small city in the middle West it was the custom of the Playground Director to take the youngest children apart about eleven o’clock each morning, to give them a glass of milk and a graham cracker. Immediately after the luncheon the children grouped themselves around the Director for a half hour or more of story telling. Meantime the older children carried on without supervision their regular sports and games in the playground. A second story hour might be set apart in the late afternoon for the older children. All who have tried it will testify to the refining influence of this quiet hour upon girls and boys.
In the municipal playgrounds which have been built in so many cities, large and small, there is always a house known as the Recreation Center. If the playground is in a noisy section of the city near railroads, elevated trains, or factories, the children should be taken into one of the rooms of this neighborhood house for the story hour. On the contrary, where there is no shelter a tent or one of the portable school houses now so frequently used could be provided to meet this need. Here a group of children could cluster to listen to the story. Travelers who have been in Japan tell us that it is not an unusual sight to see a booth within which a professional story-teller takes his place. Parents and children alike bring their pennies in payment and then gather about this teller of tales to listen to the best stories in Japanese literature. These are chosen with the greatest care and are told with beauty of diction, and with great emphasis placed upon purity of tone, in the use of language. We hear so much to-day of the American voice and its strident quality, that this story hour might have a far-reaching influence for good not only upon literary appreciation in regard to story contents, but also upon English conversation and the improvement of the American voice.
An important question is, who shall tell these stories? The large municipal playgrounds provide for special teachers in the gymnastic work, in swimming, and in the different branches of physical development for girls and boys. Why not also engage professional story tellers to go to the playground at certain hours of the day? Librarians, kindergartners, and social workers are now having excellent training in children’s literature. From these sources story tellers can be secured to meet the growing demand for story-telling as an integral feature of the playground.
Another development of the story will be the dramatization of the great hero tales. The cheap theaters of the day are doing an untold amount of harm by giving to children false ideals of life. The best way to overcome this evil is to recognize the need for dramatic expression and allow children to set out their favorite stories. For instance, if archery grounds are provided, the children will naturally gravitate toward them after listening to the Robin Hood Ballads. On a summer afternoon a beautiful out-of-door pageant could be enacted by Robin Hood and his Merry Men. The stories of King Arthur, with proper training on the physical side, might lead to a tournament as the most interesting event of the playground season. This close relation between impression and expression finds a unifying centre in dramatization which appeals alike to young and old. Properly developed and directed, it will eventually create an appreciation for the good, the true, and the beautiful in music, art and literature.
The playground is the key to the Democracy of art. Let us hope that those interested in the playground movement will have that diffused, imaginative ardor of the Prophets of old, when young men saw visions and old men dreamed dreams.
WINTER AND THE PINE TREE
This story is freely translated from the German as told in Alues und Neues, a book of easy German stories by Karl Seeligman, published by Ginn and Co. (Ed.)
When God the Lord had created the world, when the trees, fresh and beautiful, stood in the forest and the flowers in the field, he called the seasons and said: “You may divide the trees and flowers among yourselves, but you must love and care for them.” This made the seasons very happy and they played with the children of nature early and late.
All went very well for a time, but soon discord began to appear. Bold, restless Spring could not get along with plodding thoughtful Winter; the glowing Summer found Autumn phlegmatic; Autumn scolded Spring because she spoiled the flowers. The quarrel grew worse from day to day and all joy was at an end.
Thereupon Autumn said: “Things can go on this way no longer; we cannot get along together. Come let us divide the earth among ourselves.” And this is what happened. The seasons divided the earth among themselves. Winter built himself two houses at the two poles; Summer encircled the earth at the middle, and Spring and Autumn took the realm in between. The earth was now apportioned and each season had a realm of his own.
But fickle Spring soon brought to pass another change. She did not like the idea of remaining always in one place and therefore called the seasons together and made them this proposition: “Why should we always remain in one place when the entire earth belongs to us? Would it not be better if each of us had a definite time in which the entire earth belonged to him alone?” “I should be satisfied,” said Winter, “if I could keep the poles.” As the other seasons were satisfied with the idea, the agreement was made. Spring29 wanted to begin her rule at once and so thoughtful winter said:—“In order that one may not take all the beauties of the earth for himself, let us divide them!”
“Good,” said Spring, “I will take the buds.”
“To me shall belong the flowers,” said Summer. “The fruits are mine!” cried Autumn, “and Winter shall have the leaves of the trees!”
Winter was satisfied, the agreement was made and Spring began her rule. She kissed the flowers till the buds came out and smiled at her. When the buds were opening, the rule of Summer began. But now something happened by means of which poor Winter came to be cheated. A warm friendship began to spring up between the leaves on the trees and the flowers in the grass. They often teased one another. When the sun wished to shine warm upon the flowers, the leaves of the trees placed themselves between, but before the flowers thought of it, the leaves bent away so that the sun beams fell suddenly upon the flowers and blinded them. Or, during a cool rain, the leaves collected many drops, and when the flowers thought that the rain was over, they let the drops fall down. This startled the flowers and they shook their heads.
In the meantime the rule of Summer had come to an end. Autumn sat on the throne of the earth and wished to pick the late flowers. Then the leaves came and begged Autumn to let them go down to the flowers. And Autumn granted their wish, even though he did not have the right to do so. He shook the trees so that the loose leaves all fell to the earth. And then a gay time began! Autumn played a wild melody, and the leaves danced among the flowers, till they, tired and faint, let their heads hang. Soon the leaves themselves laid down for a long sleep.
Now winter came. Bare and deserted, meadow and forest received him. The only green that greeted him was the pine trees, because the flowers would have nothing to do with30 their sharp needles. Winter was deeply moved when he saw them, and while he was whipping off the last leaves which were still hanging on the trees here and there against their will, he said to the pine trees: “I will protect and guard you. When all other trees stand bare and desolate, you shall glisten in the freshest green, because you were true to me!”
This is the story of Winter and the Pine Tree.
ARTHUR AND THE SWORD
Once there was a great king in Britain named Uther, and when he died the other kings and princes disputed over the kingdom, each wanted it for himself. But king Uther had a son, the rightful heir to the throne, of whom no one knew, for he had been taken away secretly while he was still a baby, by a wise old man called Merlin, who had him brought up in the family of a certain Sir Ector, for fear of the malice of wicked knights. Even the boy himself thought Sir Ector was his father, and he loved Sir Ector’s son, Sir Kay, like an own brother. The boy’s name was Arthur.
When the kings and princes could not be kept in check any longer, Merlin had the archbishop of Canterbury send for them all to come to London. They came up to London at Christmas time, and in the great cathedral a solemn service was held, and prayer was made that some miracle be given, to show who was the rightful king. When the service was over, there appeared a strange stone in the churchyard, against the high altar. It was a great white stone, like marble, with something sunk in it that looked like a steel anvil; and in the anvil was driven a great glistening sword. The sword had letters of gold written on it, which read: “Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil is rightwise king born of all England.”
All wondered at the strange sword and its strange writing; and when the archbishop himself came out and gave per31mission, many of the knights tried to pull the sword from the stone, hoping to be king. But no one could move it a hair’s breadth.
“He is not here,” said the archbishop, “that shall achieve the sword; but doubt not, God will make him known.”
Then they set a guard of ten knights to keep the stone, and the archbishop appointed a day when all should come together to try at the stone,—kings from far and near. In the mean time, splendid jousts were held, outside London, and both knights and commons were bidden.
Sir Ector came up to the jousts, with others, and with him rode Kay and Arthur. Kay had been made a knight at Allhallowmas, and when he found there was to be so fine a joust he wanted a sword, to join it. But he had left his sword behind, where his father and he had slept the night before. So he asked young Arthur to ride for it.
“I will well,” said Arthur, and rode back for it. But when he came to the castle, the lady and all her household were at the jousting, and there was none to let him in.
Arthur said to himself, “My brother Sir Kay shall not be without a sword this day.” And he remembered the sword he had seen in the churchyard. “I will ride to the churchyard,” he said, “and take that sword with me.” He rode into the churchyard, tied his horse to the stile, and went up to the stone. The guards were all away at the tourney, and the sword was there alone.
Young Arthur went up to the stone, took the great sword by the handles, and lightly and fiercely he drew it out of the anvil.
Then he rode straight to Sir Kay with it, and gave it to him.
Sir Kay knew instantly that it was the sword of the stone, and he rode off at once to his father and said, “Sir, lo here is the sword of the stone; I must be king of the land.” But Sir Ector asked him where he got the sword. And when Sir Kay said, “From my brother,” he asked Arthur how he got32 it. When Arthur told him, Sir Ector bowed his head before him. “Now I understand ye must be king of this land,” he said to Arthur. “Wherefore I?” said Arthur.
“For God will have it so,” said Ector; “never man should have drawn out this sword but he that shall be rightwise king of this land. Now let me see whether ye can put the sword as it was in the stone, and pull it out again.”
Straightway Arthur put the sword back.
Then Sir Ector tried to pull it out, and after him Sir Kay; but neither could stir it. Then Arthur pulled it out. Thereupon Sir Ector and Sir Kay kneeled upon the ground before him.
“Alas,” said Arthur, “mine own dear father and brother, why kneel ye to me?”
Sir Ector told him, then, all about his royal birth, and how he was stolen away by Merlin. But when Arthur found Sir Ector was not truly his father, he was so sad at heart that he cared not greatly to be king. And he begged his father and brother to love him still. Sir Ector asked that Sir Kay might be seneschal when Arthur was king. Arthur promised with all his heart.
Then they went to the archbishop and told him that the sword had found its master. The archbishop appointed a day for the trial to be made in the sight of all men, and on that day the princes and knights came together, and each tried to draw out the sword, as before. But as before, none could so much as stir it.
Then came Arthur, and pulled it easily from its place.
The knights and kings were terribly angry that a boy from nowhere in particular had beaten them, and they refused to acknowledge him king. They appointed another day, for another great trial.
Three times they did this, and every time the same thing happened.
At last, at the feast of Pentecost, Arthur again pulled out the sword before all the knights and the commons. And33 then the commons rose up and cried that he should be king, and that they would slay any one who denied him.
So Arthur became king of Britain, and all gave him allegiance.
LOCAL LEAGUE WORK
HOW ONE LEAGUE WAS FORMED
BY MISS MABEL COOPER
The Story Teller’s League, which has done so much towards reviving and encouraging the almost forgotten art of story-telling in the city of Memphis, owes its origin to Prof. Wharton S. Jones, one of the leading educators of Tennessee.
Prof. Jones is assistant superintendent of the Memphis City Schools and in November, 1907, he issued an invitation to his teachers to meet him for the purpose of forming a Story Tellers’ League. About forty teachers responded and the League was organized with Prof. Jones as president; Mrs Fannie Landis, vice-president; Miss Mary Herron, secretary, and an executive committee composed of Miss Mable Solly, Mrs. L. B. Mitchell, Miss Florence Schloss and Miss Elizabeth Shield. At this meeting it was decided that the membership should not be limited to teachers in the city schools but to all interested in telling or learning how to tell stories. The membership constantly increased until at the close of the first year there were almost one hundred members, among which were many teachers from both public and private schools, Sunday schools, prominent club members and ministers.
At the second general meeting of the League the executive committee had completed and ready for distribution a most attractive Year Book showing an outline for the year’s work. To defray the cost of printing these year books, each member was asked to purchase two of them at twenty-five cents each. No other dues were asked except an earnest co-operation and willingness to take part in the programs.
There is a special line of stories for study at each meeting and a leader who assigns the numbers and conducts the meetings. The numbers on the program consist of two or three short papers on the origin, time, place and value of the particular line of stories discussed, then two or three stories followed by a discussion. The meetings are held Saturday morning two weeks apart.
One of the most pleasing incidents connected with last year’s meetings was the visit of Dr. Richard T. Wyche, President of the National34 Story Tellers’ League. Dr. Wyche was most encouraging in his remarks to us and delighted us with several of his stories.
The Memphis League belongs to the National Story Tellers’ League, and sent delegates to the Annual Convention held at Knoxville, Tenn., in July 1908. Last year’s work was devoted principally to stories for primary and intermediate grades. We will proceed along the same line this year, giving more attention to stories suitable for higher grade children.
The executive committee is, at present, working on the year book for 1908-9. On October 7, we held our first meeting.
The League is yet in its infancy, but it has gained a popularity most remarkable for so young an organization. It is recognized as a very powerful instrument for accomplishing good and its influence is felt far beyond the city in which it thrives. Our year books have been sent, by request, to many parts of the country and we are ready to give what help we can, by way of suggestions, to aid others in forming leagues. The power of story-telling is limitless. Story work stands to the children for what books, poetry, drama, sermon and art are to the adult. The child should be constantly in touch with the best in Literature,—stories within his comprehension, stories that may be woven into his experiences, that will arouse his emotions and lead him to a spontaneous expression of his ideas.
To this end the Story Tellers’ League is seeking to develop splendid story tellers of its grown-up members so that they may reach and help the little child. Truly it has a noble ambition; for, as Philip Brooks says, “He who helps a child helps humanity with a distinctness, with an immediateness which no other help given to human creatures in any other stage of their human life can possibly give again.”
REPORTS FROM LEAGUES IN SUMMER SCHOOLS
THE WOOSTER (OHIO) SCHOOL
Four summers ago the writer called a meeting in one of the rooms of Taylor Hall—one of the University buildings used by the Summer School.
A tentative organization was formed and meetings held until permanent organization was effected. The meetings were then held in the evening on the campus in front of Kanke Hall or the Memorial Chapel. A Kindergartner was also engaged by the management of the school to tell stories for a day or two. Each summer since a similar arrangement has been made and now a regular story-hour in the Model School is planned for in addition to weekly meetings of the League. This meets on the Library steps Saturday evenings at35 6:30. Old familiar college and folk songs are sung, then the story-teller or story-tellers tell their stories, other songs follow and then all go home happier and better.
The story hour is an event here—several times within the past ten summers five or six hundred listeners were seated in a circle round the story-teller and we may safely predict that the League has a permanent place in the Summer School program. Commercial reasons, if no other, will compel it.
The attendance at the story hour is not confined to students in the Summer School—many of the leading citizens and summer visitors make it convenient to drop around at that time and join the magic circle. We have been able to discover some splendid story-tellers each summer, and the great myths and classics of the race have been splendidly told and added much to the lives of many.
Kipling, Van Dyke, Dickens and other masters have been quoted and several interesting, original stories and adaptations of translations have been given. The type of story has been the very highest. Much folk-lore study and legendary investigation has been the outcome of it all. And if the writer had done nothing else during the four years he was a member of the Faculty of Wooster Summer School than to organize and keep alive the Story Tellers’ League, he would have no reason to be ashamed.
It is now finally established on a high level, and will live as long as the Summer School. It will serve as the inspiration to many teachers to learn the fine art, thus placing within the reach of the little children of the Republic the golden key to the world’s great Literatures, and will give to teachers the secret of making children feel at home when at school and keeping them in touch with the heart strings of the future citizens of our country. So mote it be.
J. E. McKean.
FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
Among the pleasantest hours of the week at the University of Virginia Summer School, last July, were the twilight story-telling hours on the campus. Somehow there was the true Golden Age atmosphere, perhaps enhanced by the beautiful old academic building and grounds; the trees and the birds; the soft air and genial spirit of the South. At any rate, men and women listened rapt to the “Once upon a time,” and lost themselves in forgotten fairy tales, portions of the old epics, folk-lore, personal anecdote, funny stories, and ghost stories. Of course, there were good story-tellers present, among them being Mr. Woodley of New Jersey, Miss Wiggins of North Carolina, Miss King of Virginia, Mr. Ruediger of Washington, D. C., and Mr. Augsburg of California. Best of all were the biblical and folk-lore stories by Mr. Wyche, president of the Story Tellers’ League. It is Mr. Wyche’s distinction to tell his stories with a simple Homeric directness impos36sible to describe but which appeals alike to the child listener and to the jaded professor of English.
Occasionally, when the spirit moved, old songs were sung out of the hearts of those present,—Maryland, My Old Kentucky Home, Carry Me Back to Old Virginia, Annie Laurie, Suwanee River. Then more stories, and, finally, dispersal over the campus in singing, chatting groups.
A. S. B.
FROM EMPORIA, KANSAS
Meetings were held at Emporia, Kansas, in the State Normal Summer School during the second week in July. Sometimes as many as six hundred would gather on the Campus just at sunset, play games for a while and then sit on the grass and steps of the main building that opened to the glow of the west. Here for an hour or more stories and songs were rendered. The stories were told largely by members of the faculty, while the students interspersed the program with the popular national airs and melodies. From this large audience, a small group have organized themselves into a League.
FROM KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE
At the Summer School of the South, the birthplace of the League, the usual twilight meetings were held on Thursday and Sunday. The Summer School at Knoxville had an unusually large attendance and a very full schedule, with lectures every evening, yet the League always found time for its meeting just after supper. On Sunday evening, there being no exercises in the school, the twilight meetings were unusually large and interesting. Programs of the great religious hymns and appropriate stories from the Bible and other sources were given.
The young people came in such large numbers to these twilight meetings that it was found necessary to organize them into a Junior League. They were enthusiastic, met nearly every evening and told their stories and sang their songs in a creative refreshing way.
The time set apart for the annual meeting of the National League, July 17 at ten A. M. in Jefferson Hall, was devoted to a memorial to Joel Chandler Harris, who was a charter member of the League. The President of the League called the meeting to order and introduced Supt. Claxton, who presided and gave a brief talk.
The Georgia delegates, a hundred or more strong, sang “Massa’s in the Cold, Cold Ground.” Mrs. Legg, of Georgia, recited an original poem in memory of Harris. Dr. C. Alphonso Smith, Professor of English, University of North Carolina, gave an address on Joel Chandler Harris and his place in literature. Mr. R. T. Wyche told37 one of the Uncle Remus stories written by Joel Chandler Harris. The attendance was about two thousand.
BIG RAPIDS, MICHIGAN
A large and enthusiastic league was formed at Ferris’ Institute, Big Rapids, Mich., July 1907, and held a number of meetings.
During the past summer the meetings have continued. A picture of the League has reached us but no report.
R. T. W.
Telling Bible Stories. By Mrs. Louise Seymour Houghton; Scribners.
If, as we believe, the story is one of the best ways to reach and nourish the child’s inner spiritual being, then we must go to the greatest source of spiritual stories, the Bible. To those who have been imbued with modern thought, science and education, and yet feel the wonderful power and value of the Bible, hardly knowing how to meet conditions as they exist, Mrs. Louise Seymour Houghton’s book, “Telling Bible Stories,” will come as a welcome supply to a real need. She points out how the literal accuracy takes care of itself, if the truth underlying goes to the child’s heart. The book is for adults, leading them to analyze the stories and get at the real meaning, and with that knowledge to construct his own story to suit the needs of the child from three years of age to the adult period. It recognizes the child’s growing knowledge of history, science, geography, myth, fable, poetry, etc., and yet points out, however valuable and interesting this is, that the Bible has this illuminating difference, that it is saturated with God consciousness.
How to Tell Stories to Children. By Sara Cone Bryant; Houghton, Mifflin Co.,1905; pp. vii, 260. $1.00
This book is intended primarily for the teachers of the kindergarten and of the primary and intermediate grades. It opens with an introduction on story telling in general, which is followed by chapters successively on the purpose of story-telling in the school; selection of stories to tell; adaptation of stories for telling; how to tell the story; and some specific schoolroom uses. The second half of the book is devoted to 32 selected stories arranged in three groups,—one for the kindergarten and grade I, and one for grades II and III, and one for grades IV and V. The book closes with a bibliography for the story teller, which must prove to be a veritable gold mine for the teacher and parent and is easily one of the most helpful chapters in the book. As a sample of the good things the book contains, we reproduce elsewhere in this number of the Story Hour one of the stories from the third group entitled, “Arthur and the Sword.”
W. C. R.
THE CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS
NATIONAL STORY TELLERS’ LEAGUE
The official title of this association shall be “THE NATIONAL STORY TELLERS’ LEAGUE.”
The objects of the association shall be:
1. To encourage the art of story-telling, and the use of classic and folk-lore stories in schools and other educational centers.
2. To foster creative work in the arranging and rewriting of stories from various classic and historic sources.
3. To serve as a medium of exchange of stories and experiences in the use of the story.
4. To discover in the world’s literature, in history, and in life the best stories for education, and to tell them with love and sympathy for the children, and to bring together in story circles those who love to hear and tell a good story, the kindergartners, teachers, church workers, children’s librarians, and those whose hearts are afire with this work, that they might impart its spirit to others.
Any person may become a member of the League by sending the name and address with the annual fee to the Secretary and Treasurer of the League, or to the Vice-President of his State; or by joining a local league and paying to the proper officer the fee due the National League.
1. The general officers of the League shall be a President, a Secretary and Treasurer, and an Editor.
2. There shall, in addition to the foregoing, be a Vice-President for each state or province having membership in the League.
3. There shall be a Governing Board consisting of seven members, three of whom shall be the general officers of the League, and the other four members to be appointed by the President.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS.
1. The President shall be elected annually at a general meeting of the League at a place and time designated by the President after he shall have consulted with the Governing Board. Any member present shall be considered a delegate, and shall be entitled to a vote in any of the proceedings of the meeting. The President so elected shall hold office for one year, or until his successor shall have been elected.
2. The President, as soon as may be after his election, shall appoint the other officers therein before named, and these shall serve the same length of term as the President.
DUTIES OF OFFICERS.
1. The President. All the duties usually incumbent upon the office of President of any association shall devolve upon the President of this association. In addition to the usual duties of a presiding officer, he shall appoint all the other officers of the League.
2. The Secretary and Treasurer shall perform all the duties usually incumbent upon such officers.
3. The Editor shall select and edit all matter offered for publication, make, in conjunction with the President, contracts with a publisher, and perform all other duties usually pertaining to such an office.
4. The Governing Board shall have the power to make and adopt a constitution and by-laws, and make laws and regulations in accordance therewith for the government of the association; and shall perform all other duties of an advisory and executive nature.
5. The Vice-President shall look after the interest of the League in their respective States, and endeavor to enlist the interest and co-operation of the teachers of their States. Each Vice-President shall exercise a general supervision of the local Leagues of his State, and advise and assist in the organization of such Leagues. He shall be on the alert to collect any folk-lore of his locality and State.
DUTIES OF MEMBERS AND LOCAL LEAGUES.
It shall be the duty of local Leagues and individual members everywhere to report to the President or Editor, or to the Vice-President of the State, any folk-lore they may find.
This constitution may be amended by a majority vote of the Governing Board and Vice-Presidents, or by a majority vote of the delegates in any annual meeting. Any member or local League may petition the Governing Board for an amendment.
This Constitution shall go into effect as soon as it shall have received the assent of a majority of the Governing Board.
1. The annual membership fee of this association shall be half-dollar, to be paid to the Treasurer direct, or to the Vice-President of the State, or, if a member of a local League, then to the proper officer of such a League.
2. Subordinate, or local, Leagues may be formed in any community in accordance with the regulations prescribed by the National League. Such local Leagues when organized may adopt their own laws and rules of procedure, provided nothing shall be done which is not in accord with the constitution of the National League.
The Governing Board shall devise and prescribe rules for the organization of subordinate Leagues.
3. The Subordinate Leagues shall be responsible to the National League for annual fee of ten cents a member due the National League by local members. For Junior Leagues there shall be no fee.
4. The general officers shall make an annual report to the general meeting of the League.
5. No officer of the League shall draw a salary.
6. The fees collected from members shall be devoted exclusively to paying the expenses which the general officers and vice-presidents have incurred in the exercise of their duties.#ENGLISH