Stories for Children in Crisis


“A small key opens big doors” –Turkish Proverb

Our children need help in this time of crisis.

Together with a coalition of international storytellers, I have gathered traditional tales from around the world, stories that may provide an internal place of peace for children. Stories that explore and transform feelings of powerlessness and fear into courage and inspiration are enduring. It is our hope that these cultural treasures can provide new and rich images to replace actual or televised images of violence.

There are immediate ways to help our children find calm while feeling strong emotions. One of these is the intimate sharing of stories. We can ease our children’s hearts while supporting the process of genuine mourning. These tales experientially remind us of the unceasing and potent resources of goodness, love, awareness, and spirit that we each have within ourselves as a natural birthright.

While a tale is being told, everyone telling the tale and everyone listening creates their own internally imagined story. Each person becomes the creator of his or her own story. These images arise within each person in a unique and personal way.

Stories contain seeds of healing, and telling them encourages growth and rejuvenation. Storytelling is an ancient method that has always served to bring people together and to stimulate creative imagination, wisdom, and compassion.

Laura Simms
Director of the Gaindeh Project, An International Storytelling for Survival Initiative
Phone: (212) 674-3479

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Lee Ellen Marvin

Lee Ellen shares from her experiences as educator and arts administrator for the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service in Ithaca, NY., and specifically how she utilizes storytelling to educate the community and reach the populations in crisis, and support those left behind. Recorded November 10, 2015

Sherry Norfolk and Lyn Ford

Boo-Tickle Tales: Stories that Teach Kids Resilience Sherry Norfolk and Lyn Ford October  18, 2017 at 9pm Eastern/6pm Pacific Receive an email reminder Audio Preview Not-so-scary stories for young children can serve a deeper purpose of immunizing children from fear, encouraging creative problem solving, offering coping mechanisms and building resilience, while being fun to tell and fun …

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The Princess and the Crow

A Tale from the Black Sea Retold by Laura Simms ©2001. Once upon a time there were three princesses who were sisters. They set out on a journey to see their entire kingdom. They enjoyed the beautiful cities and rich mountain villages of their country. Everywhere they went they feasted and slept on silken sheets. …

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How Squirrel Got Its Stripes

Retold by Laura Simms ©2001. A Tale from the Ramayana, the ancient Hindu epic poem of India, which narrates the struggle of the divine prince Sri Rama to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana. “Each serves according to their strength” Long ago in ancient India a ten-headed monster called Ravana the Rakshasa …

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The Mice and the Elephant

A Tale from India Adapted by Laura Simms ©2001. Once upon a time there was a colony of mice who feared the elephants. Whenever the elephants walked through the mice’s land with their enormous feet many mice were harmed. One day, the mouse king went to the King of the Elephants and said, “If you …

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Portrait of Peace

Offered by Linda Spitzer ©2001. There was once a king who offered a prize to the artist who could paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all of the pictures. After much deliberation he was down to the last two. He had to choose between them. One picture was …

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The Red Fish

A Tale from Turkey Adapted by Laura Simms ©2001. A kind fisherman once caught a bright shining red fish. It was so lovely, he took pity on it and instead of cooking it or selling it, he decided to take the fish home as a pet. He dug a hole in the floor of his …

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Two Friends and One Horse

An Isreali Tale told by Crimean Jews. Rewritten by Yoel Perez ©2001. Adapted by Laura Simms. “Among the Peul people of Africa it is said that there is a little peace and a big peace, but there is no little quarrel. Even a matchstick can burn down a village.” Two men, neighbors and friends, named …

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How God Chose The Site For The Temple of Jerusalem

An Adaptation of a Talmudic Legend Offered by Rinah and Leon Sheleff of Israel ©2001. Four thousand years ago, two brothers lived near each other on a hill by Jerusalem. They each had their own farm, but they shared a threshing floor. Every year they would bring in the harvest and divide it equally between …

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How Night Came Into Being

A Hindu Tale told by D.M. Kartha ©2001. Sent by Cristy West. Once upon a time only a twin brother and sister lived upon the earth. Their names were Yama and Yami and they loved each other dearly. They roamed the earth enjoying its smells and tastes, it sounds and sights, the touches of the …

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In The Beginning

A Cherokee Tale by storyteller Gayle Ross. Retold by Olive Hackett-Shaughnessy. This is what the elders told me when I was a child. In the beginning, everything was water. There was nothing but a great ocean. Then Water Beetle dove to the bottom of the sea and brought up a handful of mud, which grew …

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The Golden Squash

A Tale from Tibet, adapted by Laura Simms ©2001. Two old men lived near each other high up among the mountains in a small village. Each owned a small garden. One old man was very generous and thoughtful. He never thought about doing things that were kind, it was just his nature. The other old …

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How to Create Stories for Children who Are Having Fears and Nightmares

by Nancy Mellon, September 21, 2001. Soon after the recent events in New York City, I received from a mother the following story. The previous morning her six-year old child had told her a dream: “I was on a ship and it crashed. There were a lot of skeletons around and then some people came …

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