Review: John Walsh’s The Art of Storytelling

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9 out of 10 Stars
Author: John Walsh
Publisher: Moody
Reading Level: Leisure

This may be the most fun book I’ve read this year. As a writer, reader, and story lover, the title The Art of Storytelling grabbed me. Storytelling sometimes seems mysterious and out of reach. Storytellers are people from the past. You hear about ancient stories like Homer’s The Illiad and The Odyssey being passed down orally by storytellers. We’ve lost that sort of reverence for the storyteller in American (at least in my estimation).

I will admit I was bored with the first chapter. My two questions with the first chapter were: first, do we really learn all that differently from the past? Is there such a neat division between the previous generation and this current generation? I agree storytelling is undervalued, but I’m not sure it’s because we started learning differently. It would be interesting to see if there’s studies to back the claim up. Also, I’m not sure there’s such a sharp distinction between how men and women learn. I know some women who learn better with hard facts and some men that do or some that prefer stories and visa versa. These were minor parts of the book. Once he got into the techniques, games, and tips the book took off.

What’s fun about the book is everything he’s teaching you about storytelling, he’s encouraging you to immediately jump in and try and he gives you plentiful instructions and helps to do so. This may be the only book I’ve ever read that I actually used all the materials at the end of the chapters...and it was fun doing it. I ended up reading through the book on Thanksgiving Day and the day after and shared a lot of stories and used the techniques from The Art with my family at the table and my kids before bed. It was funny that my parents both picked up on a few of the stories which were riffs on Aesop’s Fables. Bottom line: storytelling was fun. You should try it.

I thoroughly enjoyed how he tied all this in to the Christian life. I’ve long pondered about integrating missionary storytelling techniques into Americans churches. How that would work. What it would look like. Walsh proposes this very thing. Straightforward, progressive storytelling of the bible’s stories. He also points out that children who grew up in church sometimes lose interest in church around the age of twelve and he found correlations between that age and the church’s transition from storytelling to strictly didactic teaching. It would been an interesting to see some hard research for that theory. These kind of techniques fit in nicely with something I harp on all the time which is the importance of rehearsing the gospel in your home and daily life. It may be that our failure to do this well is connected to the loss of the storytellers in our culture.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”