Classroom Tales, by Jennifer M Fox Eades, is a practical, well-researched and scholarly work, engagingly written and providing a thorough background to the history of storytelling and its range of cultural, religious, geographical, social and therapeutic uses. Eades, a teacher and educational advisor with an MA in Psychoanalytic Observation, writes with clear psychological understanding and often from a personal perspective, casting light on some of the deep and complex levels on which storytelling can work.
The book covers a multitude of topics from the importance of story telling, to how to tell stories, creating your own stories and encouraging children to tell their own. I enjoyed reading about Fox Eade's personal experiences of using storytelling in the classroom and have found plenty in this book to inspire me.
Storytelling is an intrinsic part of the human make-up and the tradition of oral storytelling is probably as old as spoken language itself. In this book the author, Eades, makes the point that we all tell stories in our everyday lives. For children, the opportunity to listen to and to be apart of oral stories as well as stories in books is a vital part of their learning. Of particular interest are the sections on how powerful storytelling is as an outlet for emotions, especially anxiety, anger and fear. I think this book would be an invaluable resource in all early years settings.
The National Child Minding Association
Jennifer Fox Eades effectively encourages practitioners in the art of storytelling and shows how valuable this is. Storytelling is very different although no less valuable than reading stories. It is enjoyable to all ages and abilities, it is creative and encourages active learning and is inclusive as stories work on many levels and children can take from it what they need. One of its biggest advantages is its flexibility - the only limit being your own imagination. This is a valuable resource for people working with children at many levels. I thoroughly recommend it.
Play for Life Journal
The book is a recommended buy for teaching/learning assistants/mentors, SENCO's and teachers in primary schools who are undertaking training in therapeutic play.
The first point to make about this guide to the delights of storytelling is that non-teachers should not be put off from reading it. As a parent with (only) two young boys to worry about - and not a classroom full of youngsters - I have no hesitation in recommending it to other mums and dads not in the teaching profession.
TES Extra for Special Needs
Stories are good for you. So says Jennifer Eades, whose own damascan revelation occurred while working with highly troubled teenager girls who sat entranced for hours listening to stories that they had missed out on as children. Not just listening, either: using the stories to unpick and understand their own problems. Just as Hindu medicine once used stories as a "cure", Eades uses them to help autistic children change their behaviour. Story telling is an "ancient human skill" and "has elements to it that are not present when a book is read aloud". How you tell a story will in part depend on how your listeners respond - it is a shared, living experience. Eades uses a rain stick, or lighting a candle, or donning a silk scarf, to signal a story is about to begin. A silent start and the pauses in a story build up enjoyment and anticipation and the tale "itself sinks into our hearts and minds". Teachers and children can and should learn storytelling. I once complained when a teacher would not let my son tell her about something exciting he had done at the weekend. She had to start their literacy hour. But Eades reminds us that children telling stories about themselves are an essential part of the lesson - "if you cannot give a coherent spoken account of what happened over the weekend, you will not be able to write one down either". As a teacher, when I tell a story it makes me feel a more direct connection with the children than any other activity. In an age when we complain that children are hard-wired to their computer game modules, let us not forget that a good tale well told will stay with them longer than the latest game. Like a good story, Classroom Tales is both simple and profound and should be made compulsory reading on all initial teacher training courses. Highly recommended.
Facts and Fictions
Jennifer M Fox Eades' informative and easily readable book is a very welcome reminder that story telling and creating is not only pleasurable but will enrich children's learning and personal development. Through her varied work and research in Psychoanalytic Observation of Children and Families, Ms Fox Eades had achieved amazing results with children of all ages from challenging teenagers to the very young.