Reviewed by Anne Craig, Teacher, Scoil Chiaráin, Glasnevin, Dublin 9


If you believe that storytelling is at its best with a good storyteller and a group of listeners, then you need to take a look at this book and think again. It is the word interactive in the title that holds the key to the specific approach to storytelling put forward by author Keith Park. The subtitle, Developing inclusive stories for children and adults indicates the intended readership—and teacher or group leader working creatively with groups of differing ability levels in the communication and language domain.

Park’s approach and flexible strategies ensure that both the story and the telling are shared rather than merely delivered and heard. Everyone can engage with the characters and mood, speaking for the characters and to them, responding emotionally as well as vocally. The essential methodology is that of ‘call and response’ or turn-taking, highlighting the essence of the stories with selected key phrases and rhythmic repetitions. The imaginative samples demonstrate ways of working with story to engage everybody with a wide range of abilities including individuals who use communication devices or sign language. Fun ideas for elaboration are borrowed from movies, TV personalities, the Simpsons, and many more.

The rationale is clear, presented with enthusiasm, and includes fascinating references to well-known work of literary greats (including our own James Joyce, Seamus Heaney and Gerard Manley Hopkins). The book is intended as a resource to be dipped into. If you are interested in further developing those ever familiar tales from The tree little pigs to Sleeping Beauty—seven such classics are treated and are suitable for children or adults (think of Pantomime!). If you are interested in tales from around the world, then you can choose from ten scripts or use them as models for your own stories—five of Shakespeare’s and two of Dickens’ classics follow, with an encouraging concluding segment entitled Grow you own stories.

Because the book is written for a multicultural UK audience, some of the story selections may not be useful in an Irish context, but the techniques for interactive storytelling are clearly visible and readers are encouraged to extract the ideas for their own purposes. We are clearly not short of story material here in Ireland.

INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING, by Keith Park (2004). Speechmark Publishing, Bicester, Oxon 26 4LQ. ISBN 0 86388 516 0- Stg£29.95