International Storytelling Center

Contact Name: Marianne Huff


116 W Main St
Jonesborough, Tennessee 37659
United States
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Phone: (800) 952-8392

The International Storytelling Center (ISC) is dedicated to improving the lives of people around the world through the power of storytelling. ISC produces the three-day National Storytelling Festival which begins on the first Friday in October. ISC also produces a 26 week program known as Storytelling Live!—the International Storytelling Center’s renowned teller-in-residence (TIR) series which runs from May to October with daily concerts and workshops from world class master storytellers that explore themes of diversity, unity, American and world cultures.

The Festival and Storytelling Live! encompass a wealth of cultures, traditions and styles – a world of stories within one, historic town, known as the storytelling capital of the world.

Storytelling Live! takes place in a state of the art theatre located beside a storytelling park and central to historic downtown. Festival Friday School Day takes place in circus-like tents that seat 1500. Audience members, schools, community groups and visitors from across the world are treated to performances from over thirty nationally and internationally-known professional tellers.

The International Storytelling Center has become the flagship of a national movement that celebrates the rich history of American storytelling and the talebearers who share their stories. This picturesque place is where the storytelling revival continues to attract thousands year after year to share the time-honored tradition. They come for one purpose – to hear and tell stories! Listening to master storytellers and learning how to craft your own story, if used successfully, unlock the magic of difference, dialogue, and collaboration as we build new stories together. Stories empower and enrich us and help us realize the power of change.

You can learn more about us at our website:, and you can find education resources at our Learning Library:


Sample Programs Offered

Program Title: Children’s Storytelling Concert with Peter Cook

Program Type: Arts Appreciation

Program Description:

Peter Cook is an internationally renowned deaf performing artist whose work incorporates American Sign Language, pantomime, storytelling, acting, and movement. Cook has presented his work both nationally and internationally, including at the Kennedy Center, the National Book Festival and in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Japan. He has also appeared on PBS and traveled extensively as part of the Flying Words Project to promote ASL literature. Cook teaches at Columbia College where he received an Excellence in Teaching award. He calls Chicago home, where his favorite audience is still his son.
Children’s Concert with Peter Cook
Saturday, June 2 • 10:30 a.m. • Admission $5
Join the fun with Peter Cook, an internationally renowned deaf performing artist whose work incorporates American Sign Language, pantomime and lots of movement!

Lesson Plan Example: Download File

Program Title: Workshop for teachers with Gay Ducey

Program Type: Arts Curriculum

Program Description:

Saturday, September 22 • 10:00 – 12:00 p.m. • Fee: $30 (free for teachers)
THAT’S NOT FAIR! Using Storytelling in the Classroom to Encourage Tolerance, Critical Thinking, Empathy and Good Decisions
Teachers have way too much to do and way too little time, so using stories to teach is simply a no-brainer. This workshop will explore character development through storytelling. Plenty of tools available, including dilemma tales, riddling, heroic acts and actors, tales from other cultures and everyday experience. You’ll have fun and leave with a pocket full of tales and techniques to use.
Ducey has appeared across the nation and abroad and was featured on the television program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. She was a children’s librarian for more than 25 years where she also worked as a staff trainer in Oakland Head Start programs. Ducey was named one of the “Outstanding Women of Berkeley” by the Berkeley Commission on the Status of Women, and has taught storytelling at the University of California and Berkeley’s Library School.
This workshop is provided free to teachers through the generosity of the Niswonger Foundation.
For reservations or more information call (800) 952-8392 or (423) 913-1276.

Lesson Plan Example: Download File

Program Title: School Day at the National Storytelling Festival

Program Type: Arts Integration, Arts Appreciation

Program Description:

Friday, October 5, 2018 is School Day at the 46th National Storytelling Festival! School Day tickets for grades 3–12 are valid for entry into any Festival venue for Friday from 10 am – 5 pm.
There will be 5 hours of storytelling in circus-like tents with many different tellers. A 30 minute break will be given between each 60 minute storytelling session.
Storytelling gives the student a live experience with many different professional storytellers from a variety of cultures who engage the student to participate in the stories.
A real performance of storytelling can make the story come alive for a student. It is a very different experience than watching a storyteller on video or just reading a story. It can help a student engage in the story, increase comprehension, and show a student different art forms and techniques such as mime, the use of sound effects to enhance the story, music used as part of storytelling, theater, etc.
The educational goals for a day at the Festival will teach valuable life lessons, increase listening and communication skills, show how the written word can be used in speaking, help the student learn about different cultures and enhance the learning of language patterns and new vocabulary. Students should be able to compare and contrast different stories and different styles of storytelling.

Lesson Plan Example: Download File

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