What made you want to become a storyteller?
When I observed how strongly kids responded to storytelling, I decided to become a professional storyteller. It gets better all the time.
Was the journey difficult?
In the majority of cases, my storytelling programs have been a solid success. Occasionally, the host does not promote it sufficiently and the audience is small, but even those are usually successes. My favorite venue over the past 10 years is the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum where I’m the resident storyteller.
Is there a difference between writing a story and telling a story?
I don’t read stories — I tell them. This way, you can better use voice expression and body language in effectively enhancing the telling experience.
What is the difference between a fable, a parable, and a fairy tale?
There are many types of stories. Some are keyed to teaching a lesson (parables) — some are for communicating a subtle message (animal-talking fables) — some are fantasies primarily designed to entertain (fairy tales). But all forms can teach lessons, particularly to kids.
If you could be one character in a story who would you be and why?
I’d be a storyteller.
If you could have coffee with one famous storyteller who would it be and why?
Abe Lincoln. He always had a good story to fit any situation.
What inspires you as a storyteller?
The greatest inspiration is seeing how kids respond to storytelling, and observing their creativity and imagination when thinking up and telling stories of their own.
What advice would you give a storyteller faced with writer’s block?
Start by telling stories about yourself and family, particularly when addressing kids. Also, read and learn success-proven stories for telling. Many books are available with these types of stories.
What stories are you working on presently?
I have several programs coming up with historic and patriotic stories. This is my specialty and the reason I was presented with the George Washington Award for Excellence in Public Communications by the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge (excuse the plug). But I also like to tell the old folk tales, fables — and I sometimes include a bit of history about the age-old art of oral storytelling.
Finally, what advice would you give kids who wish to pursue a career in storytelling?
The best way to get into storytelling is just start telling — to family, friends, groups. I’ve seen some very good storytellers develop in my “Storytelling Club” at our local Boys and Girls Club. We meet every week, and the kids have an opportunity to make up and tell stories. Most kids, and adults, are surprised at their ability to tell stories once they try it. I’ve also discovered this in my storytelling courses at our community college.
Where can kids and parents find out more about your work?
I have a storytelling Web site: www.jimwoodard.net
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