Mary Jo Huff – Early Literacy Begins with Rhythm Rhyme & Story Time.

Storyteller Mary Jo Huff with her puppet during a performance.

Interview #058 Mary Jo Huff
Logo for art of storytelling
for $2.23
Early Literacy begins with rhythm rhyme & story time.

Mary Jo writes…
Language is critical for literacy development and storytelling
creates an interactive bridge. Music, repeated phrases, and actions provide connections and invite participation by children when they become part of the storytelling event.

Working in schools demands that the storyteller is tuned into the state literacy standards. Storytelling connects many types of standards but I am only concentrating on the literacy connection. A good story challenges a child’s auditory, visual, and kinesthetic skills along with a phonemic awareness.

Performing in schools as a storyteller gives a teller the opportunity to address some reading readiness components such as repetition, retelling, rhyming and sequencing. When teachers are aware of what the stories have to offer they are amazed at the children’s reaction. Children develop their oral language skills by learning to tell and retell stories. They learn about their world, other cultures, visual imagery, moral and social issues and they increase listening skills.

Literacy standards connections to look for when telling stories for children:
- Phonological Awareness
- Understanding Stories
- Book Awareness
- Comprehension
- Word Awareness
- Story Enjoyment

Mountains of information are available for review and
it can be mind boggling. Check out these organizations for documentation of literacy standards and review for connections to your type of storytelling.

- International Reading Association
- National Council of Teachers of English
- National Association for the Education of Young Children

Play with the sounds of language using songs, rhymes, chants and stories.
Get excited about what you do. This life of mine is a passion and I work at it everyday in one way or another. Over the years I have been successful because I spent 35 years in the trenches with young children and also attended numerous conferences and developed a love for my life. I rely on my experiences to connect my storytelling to the world I live in and to share my experiences with anyone who will listen!

More about Mary Jo
I have 35 years as an Early Childhood Educator and 20 years as a storyteller.
I believe in my heart that children who listen to stories develop a great vocabulary and understanding of their world. I used storytelling in the classroom and began visiting schools, libraries and doing workshops for teachers and librarians. In this period of time I have been in all but 7 states and visited with thousands of children and adults. Children need excitement, music, props and I like puppets with my storytelling. I am not a puppeteer I just play with puppets and I play with story.

Today I work as an author, storyteller, consultant, teaching artist and granny-on-the-go! I am a good traveler and my fluff goes with me wherever I go to tell stories. Children are hungry to hear a good told story and they connect especially when there is a little rhythm and rhyme. I have 7 books published and working on a couple at this moment along with 3 CDs and my favorite a new DVD called “Fairy Tales, Fantasy, and Storytellin’ Fun!.

To learn more about Storyteller Mary Jo Huff go to her website at

1 Comment

  • By kristy, March 5, 2011 @ 11:47 pm

    Like to use more storytelling in my class room I have ages 6 weeks to 18 months in my room

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