We celebrate stories in every form during National Storytelling Week, which takes place from January 30 to February 6 this year. This engaging event is celebrated in schools, clubs, museums, spoken word venues, and various other places. Like its name, National Storytelling Week encourages people of all ages, genders, and cultures to indulge in stories new and old and participate in this centuries-old form of entertainment.
History of National Storytelling Week
Once upon a time, long ago, people would inscribe their stories on the walls of caves. These included animals, humans, and other intriguing as-yet-unidentified objects. Some even resembled ancient versions of a graphic novel without the speech bubbles.
Of course, scientists believe storytelling has existed in some form or another since the development of languages, and the earliest evidence we have are these cave drawings. Then, as the world (and man) evolved, so did our storytelling abilities. The ancient cultures — Greeks, Sumerians, Egyptians — gave us oral stories. And then there was Aesop, who was probably also a teller of oral tales. Epic poems like the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey” were initially passed down by word-of-mouth and were only later written down.
Similarly, cultures and people like the Native Americans also passed stories down verbally, a tradition that continues to this day in some cultures. Over time, stories changed to incorporate modern inventions. Photographs, video recordings, and television became new ways to tell stories.
In the 21st century, people can explore stories in any form they choose and enjoy any kind they want.
National Storytelling Week timeline
The “Epic of Gilgamesh,” a heroic saga about a king called Gilgamesh, is written on tablets, and is said to be the inspiration for later heroes like Hercules.
Academics study stories from around the world and find that fairy tales originate from this period.
On January 13, WRGB, the virtual and VHF digital channel 6 (initially called W2XB), is broadcast experimentally from New York and continues broadcasting until today.
Companies sell book content for reading on P.D.A.s and Sony and Amazon's e-reading devices spark interest in this industry, causing an increase in the sales of ebooks.
National Storytelling Week FAQs
What is National Storytelling Week?
Schools and other institutions celebrate this event to help people explore the wonder of stories. Everything from the history of stories to the resources to support this tradition is covered during this week.
When is National Storytelling Day?
Each year on April 27, the U.S. celebrates National Tell a Story Day, which encourages people — young and old — to share every kind of story imaginable.
Why is storytelling so important?
Stories can be used to teach, inspire, influence, learn, and enjoy. Mostly, stories convey ideas, cultures, and values that unite people across geographical and personal barriers.
National Storytelling Week Activities
Visit a storytelling event
Each year, various venues host special events for National Storytelling Week. Check out National Storytelling Week events near you and visit if you can. If you can't find one, how about creating your own special storytelling event for your friends and family?
Live your story
Fulfill your fantasy of being an actor — pick your favorite story (or create one) and act it out for your friends and family. You can even choose to honor famous storytellers or literary themes by creating a themed celebration. Explore space themes, horror, or even a murder mystery, and make them come alive.
See stories come alive
Watch the movie or play versions of your favorite books. Visit live retellings (and even author readings) to enrich the way you experience a story.
5 Fun Facts About Books
The world's most-sold book
It is estimated that “The Bible” has sold over five billion copies.
Paperback or hardback?
Traditionally, books are only published in paperback after interest in the hardback version dies down.
President Roosevelt loved reading
President Roosevelt is known to have read a book before breakfast every day.
Authors’ names weren't on the cover
The covers of the first printed books were considered a piece of art and included drawings, leather, or even gold, but not the author's name.
The most expensive book in the world
In 1994, Leonardo da Vinci’s science diary — the “Codex Leicester” — sold for $30.8 million.
Why We Love National Storytelling Week
Storytelling has entertained people for centuries
People drew, painted, orated, and even sang their stories to entertain the world. It shares information and forms bonds with other people.
Storytelling is a powerful tool
People use stories to teach, engage, inspire, and communicate. And best of all, they forge connections.
Stories are a link to our past
Stories have endured for generations and will continue to do so. They help us explore culture, traditions and are our link to the past, often retelling history with a shot of fun.
National Storytelling Week dates