Well, here we go! With the long list of types of storytelling The List So Far I needed to settle on one type and get started. I figured I’d start with something easy like folktales. If you are a new to storytelling, this makes sense. Everyone who is well experience in storytelling, however, just got a laugh at how naive I was. Now I know better. Allow me to pass to you what I know.

The definition as I understand it

Storyteller Robin Schulte was nice enough to provide me with a listing of story types and definitions from a manual she used once before. Folk Tales are defined as following: “Folktales are stories that originated from the common people and are often associated with specific country or people. The characters are stereotypes of ordinary people, and extraordinary things often happen to them.” Using dictionary.com, you get the following definitions: 1. a tale or legend origination and traditional among a people or folk, especially one formatting part of the oral tradition of the common people 2. any belief or story passed on traditional, especially n considered to be false or bases on superstition

Which led to these questions…

As I try to relate my new found understanding of folktales, I wondered how does this relate to a present day storyteller? Two questions came up for me:

  1. Why care about folktales?
  2. How does that relate to present times?

Folk tales are stories about a people’s culture. What they do. Why they do it, Why it’s important. There are African folktales, Irish folktales, Appalachian folktales, the list goes on. Folktales are how parts of a culture survives when you can’t see the physical evidence anymore. They explain and honor how a particular culture get from where things were to where things are now. If you want to better understand the cultures in the world today, find the stories, the folktales, that have existed from long ago. Understanding the cultures of others is how we understand how to co-exist. Understanding is one step closer to working together 

One last question

A question I now have that I don’t have an answer for is this, what modern stories might become a part of modern folktales? Stories don’t just capture times long ago, but the here and now. Surely with all that is happening, there are new folktales being generated over the world. It will be interesting to see what they will be.




Special thanks to Robin Schulte and Cooper Braun-Enos for emails and conversations about folktales and many other story related subjects!

One thought on “The Stories We Tell – Folktales

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