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The Way of the Storyteller

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  102 ratings  ·  23 reviews
As interest in the art of storytelling continues to grow, many books have appeared on the subject but none have matched the scope and charm of The Way of the Storyteller. First published in 1942, this classic work is unique in its blend of literary history, criticism, analysis, personal anecdote, and how-to instructions. Sawyer examines storytelling as a folk art and a sti ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 27th 1977 by Penguin Books (first published 1942)
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Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I am a professional storyteller and when I first started learning my craft I found this book in the library and it was a treasure trove of ideas and concepts. Ruth Sawyer was a classic teller herself of great talent and a master. Her book is a great guide for anyone wanting to explore the field of storytelling.
Erik Akre
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teachers and would-be storytellers
Shelves: artmaking, education
This is the kind of book I wanted to read about storytelling. It's about the spirit of storytelling, expounding the technical aspects of the art, the performance aspects of it as well. She describes it as a folk art that draws on all kinds of sources: personal, family, tradition, myth, legend, and much more.

I picked up this book because telling stories is part of my job as an elementary school teacher. It inspired me to draw deeply from the traditions of storytelling, and it gave me instructions
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
"I have noticed that the best of the traditional storytellers whom I have heard have been those who live close to the heart of things-to the earth, the sea, wind and weather."

This book was around 2.5 stars for me because I can't particularly say I liked it but it is informative of the author's perspective.

It was recommended by someone who told me how it would highlight how oral storytelling is different than writing a story. On the one hand I think this book does that, however it also reads as i
Although i found a couple of nuggets in there i didn't enjoy it as much as i was expecting to and wasn't much interested in the stories therein.
Judy Croome
Dec 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Although Ruth Sawyer’s quaint “The Way of the Storyteller” is more a book about verbal storytelling than it is about written storytelling, there is still much wisdom to be found in its pages.

Sawyer’s passion for stories shines through the pages and her rich experiences in interpreting the written word provide some useful guidance for authors. She explores the ancient roots of storytelling and shows how today’s stories are inseparable from the patterns of the past.

Sawyer talks of four invariables
Jan 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Inspirational stuff indeed as Sawyer charts her own journey and quietly guides readers to seek storytelling quests of their own!

Feb/15 - Re-reading a text like this, published first in 1942 and then revised slightly in the 60s, has its issues for contemporary readers - Sawyer can seem a little judgmental and her insistence that true storytellers come from the "folk" - from encounters we might have on the docks, the marketplace, the church is just no longer the same - as well what is really missi
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was told when I started this semester that this book is a bit difficult for some people to read. The language is quite flowery and I could see some people thinking it's too much for a non-fiction storytelling book. However, Ruth Sawyer did a really good of turning instruction into narrative, as storytellers are wont to do. She gives her own personal folk and fairy-tale history while at the same time giving her opinion on certain methods of telling. ...more
Sep 12, 2007 rated it liked it
I got this book for Christmas, and I was surprised that I'd never heard of it before. I adore Sawyer's Roller Skates, and thought I'd read all of her other books. This one is in a lot of ways a textbook. Sawyer examines storytelling down through the ages, and though there are some dated parts which refer to "savages", it's a pretty wonderful book. It makes me wish I could have gone to one of her events, sat at her feet, and listened to her spin a yarn.
jessica wilson
Jun 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
The book alone is a story to be told andwritten in such a flowery way it radiates old fashionned goodness. Half of the book contains stories of the author's education and journey to becoming a storyteller. The other half is a collection of old tails mentioned throughout the text. Written in 1942, the style of book is indeed outdated but the passion of the author shines pure and bright.
Elizabeth Scheib
May 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I went into reading this book knowing it was a classic "textbook" for storytellers and those interested in oral storytelling. I was not disappointed. Her inspirational views on educating children through story make this book a must-read for any teacher.
Michael Fitzgerald
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: another
This is a many-faceted book - any of the various ancillary sections would be worth all five stars: the bibliography, with multiple areas of focus; the guidance on public speaking; the autobiographical anecdotes; and the stories themselves.
Angela Young
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
For anyone who wants to know why stories need to be told (not read); why stories are so ineffably important to the making-sense of our lives and how a mistress of her art thought and felt and performed, and how we can, too. Magical and transformative (just like the best stories).
Lauren Noel Ottwell
Jan 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-read
Jan 2010, summer 2015
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
My mom would come to my grade school classes to tell folk stories. I hope to be able to tell a story like her someday.
Feb 27, 2008 marked it as to-read
A classic storytelling book to turn to for inspiration when trying to improve your own storytelling skills.
Aug 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Hell YES. Sawyer knows a thing or two and freakin PREACHES it. Recommended for EVERY storyteller.
Jan 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jennifer by: Janice
Not a how-to guide so much as a rumination on the reasons to storytell and the background of storytelling as an art. Also includes 11 stories.
Dave Mankin
Feb 28, 2007 rated it liked it
if you don't read anything else, read the introduction.
Paul Groos
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very accessible read. As a professional storyteller this is one of the seminal works about our craft. Old, but not outdated.
Marsha Valance
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: storytelling
One of my favorite books on the art of storytelling.
Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
this book has actually added a richness to my understanding of therapy, oddly enough. but its primary purpose is definitely to help readers understand the power of a simple story told.
Aug 31, 2010 added it
Shelves: literature
from my library school story-telling class
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Ruth Sawyer, was an American storyteller and a writer of fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She may be best known as the author of Roller Skates, which won the 1937 Newbery Medal.

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