from Fairy Tales, Folklore, Fables, Nursery Rhymes,
Myths, Legends, Bible and Classics

To add to the lists below, please e-mail

(excerpts from posts)
(If you want to retell any of the stories listed below, be sure to obtain permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain)

1) I've found sing-alongs to be very popular with seniors. I had 2 songs in my St. Patrick's Day program this year at a senior center. Next year I'll include more.

2) I always tell Life Savings by Ahlman. It's great.

3) You could tell my version of Master of All Masters -- see
I've added an Xmas tree to the story -- I just couldn't believe that a cat's tail, catching on fire, could cause a whole farm to burn down.

4) Your seniors might like these two stories in two picture books: The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski (Scholastic/Candlewick 1995) and The Night Tree by Eve Bunting (Harcourt 1991). In The Night Tree, a family at Christmastime treks through snowy woods to decorate a pine tree with food for the wild animals. In The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, a widow and her son struggle to befriend a lonely woodcarver.

5) You might try to tell Christmas Crabapples. You may remember our previous discussion of Rubezahl, the mountain spirit from German folklore.

6) AWhat came to mind was the Kate Dudding story of The Red Sweater that the mother or grandmother knit and like the tailor it keeps getting smaller and smaller until it's a Xmas ornament but it still reminds her of her mother and she still has a story to tell about all the things she made with the red yarn and the red hearts. I found it truly a story to tell all ages. I wouldn't tell Queen with Cold Heart to seniors but I would tell and I have told Mrs. Mondry in Joining In. It's so funny how they shout out the answers, especially the cigar and a lovely closing story. Another one I like to tell to this age group is about a lady who saves her favorite days in little boxes so she can relive them at an older age and after she relives them she dies and her friends find one unopened box and it filters into them and it's when she was 4 1/2 .She saved one half hour and it's still floating around out there infecting others who begin to act like 4 year olds.. Life Savings it's called.
Comment: That is by the late Alan Ahlberg. It was published in his collection called The Clothes Horse and is sometimes known as The Woman Who Saved Time.
Further Comment: Allan seems not to be 'the late.' His wife and writing partner, Janet Ahlberg, died in 1994.

7) At my Quilts and Stories session at the Alzheimer's unit last week, I built my program around the themes of winter and gift giving. Being an agnostic of Jewish background, I don't feel comfortable doing religious stories, and, by temperament, I'm not drawn to the very sentimental stories. So, I combined personal experiences of growing up in Detroit and earning money for presents by shoveling snow. Two of the stories I told in this context might work for you: The Gifts of Wali Dad (or Story of Wali Dad the Simple-Hearted, both of which are available on the web) and the ice fishing story about Keeping the Worms Warm.
Keeping the Worms Warm
It was a cold winter day. An old man walked out onto a frozen lake, cut a hole in the ice, dropped in his fishing line, and waited patiently for a bite. He was there for almost an hour, without even a nibble, when a young boy walked out onto the ice, cut a hole in the ice not next to him. The young boy dropped his fishing line and minutes later he hooked a Largemouth Bass.
The old man couldn't believe his eyes but chalked it up to plain luck. But, shortly thereafter, the young boy pulled in another large catch.
The young boy kept catching fish after fish. Finally, the old man couldn't take it any longer. "Son, I've been here for over an hour without even a nibble. You've been here only a few minutes and have caught a half dozen fish! How do you do it?"
The boy responded, "Roo raf roo reep ra rums rrarm."
"What was that?" the old man asked.
Again the boy responded, "Roo raf roo reep ra rums rarrm."
"Look," said the old man, "I can't understand a word you're saying."
The boy spit the bait into his hand and said, "You have to keep the worms warm!"

Another one I told at a Hanukkah party two weeks ago might also work - that's the story about Filling the Barn, the outline of which was posted on Storytell some years ago. Another thought about gift giving is the series of short takes on Marketplace - a public radio show about economics. Each day last week they featured a person talking about the best gift he or she ever received. The three I remember hearing were: The gift of Life by a young man whose mother got pregnant out of wedlock in wartime. The gift of a large-key calculator given to a first year special ed teacher by one of her students, of whom she thinks every time she uses it. The gift of a drum sent to a young woman by her boyfriend, "who always knows what I want -- but of course, I'm always telling him, too!"
Added comment: I used this with at a mixed age luncheon of neighbors and friends, found that I could personalize it to the group. For example: I used the version that mentioned both light and song as filling the barn. Since we had a birthday member at our luncheon, and we'd just sung "Happy Birthday," I mentioned that today the house was filled with light, song - and even more valuable - friendship or love.

8) O'Henry's The Gift of the Magi is a great senior story that they all know and love. I have found that The Polar Express is also great for this audience.

9) For those of you who wanted a copy of Remember When?...This is the basis for my chapter in The Healing Heart ~ Communities. Copies ARE for sale . . .
Steve Otto

Remember When?
The best stories are those which happened to each of us! Remember when you used to walk three miles to school . . . Up hill both ways . . . With snow drifts over your head . . . Barefoot . . .
Well, sometimes our memories are better that way! Let’s go back in our memories and pick up some of those stories of events that made us what we are today!
Living Conditions...
Your Family...
Health Care...
Where Were You and what were you doing...
How did your celebrate...
Toys and things...
Courtship and Marriage...
Military time...

(This web page updated 5/9/04)


Call Story-Lovers 707-996-1996