Narrative Games

Narrative games are games that involve a storytelling aspect.

Examples: Rory’s Story Cubes, Dungeons & Dragons, Choose Your Own Adventure, Storyworld Cards, Tell Me A Story (eeboo), Fairytale Spinner Game (eeboo), Madlibs

Library Applications: Murder Mystery Dinners, Creative Writing Clubs and Workshops, Reader’s Theatre, Improv Comedy Programs, Dungeons & Dragons Quests

Narrative games are closely tied to literacy.  In this respect, they are the perfect match for libraries.  There’s many ways to use narrative games but one of my favorite ways is to incorporate them into creative writing programs.

One of my favorite tools to use in my weekly teen writing club is the Storyworld Cards:


Storyworld cards are intricate and beautifully illustrated cards with concepts, characters, or things that can be used in a variety of ways for storytelling play.  Each card not only has a main subject, but also dozens of other icons and symbols that link it to several other cards.  On the back of each card is a written description and a handful of questions to prompt the writer/storyteller.

In my weekly group, we use these cards in a variety of ways:

  • Group storytelling: each player is given a handful of cards and we take turns adding to the group story, one sentence at a time, using one card at a time for inspiration.
  • 3-Card Draw: each player is given three cards and asked to come up with a story using all three.
  • Descriptions: teens practice their descriptive skills by coming up with as many colorful adjectives as possible to describe the illustrations on the cards.

For more creative writing ideas, please visit my blog (just getting started but should be posting more content soon).

Another fabulous game for libraries is Dungeons & Dragons.  Although this game has received a bit of a bad rap in the past (unfounded), it is actually a top notch storytelling game that combines problem-solving, storytelling and teamwork skills in a safe social setting.

Check out this 2012 article on using D&D in libraries.  Here’s another great resource, the Librarian’s Guide to Gaming, the ALA online Toolkit for D&D.  Although playing D&D does require some in-depth knowledge of the game, don’t be afraid to try this out at your library.  Take a look at your community for local game stores which can help you host a D&D event.  Last year, we used Gryphon Game and Comics in Fort Collins to help us lead a beginners’ event.

What narrative games have been successful at your library?  What tips would you offer to other librarians who want to try them out?


2 responses to “Narrative Games

  1. Yay, I use Storyworld cards, too! In my Young Writer’s Group, I’ve also used the card game, Pictureka and a magnetic poetry kit I have. Also, we’ve made story “cootie” catchers, where we write a setting, character, or problem in one of the spaces under the “flaps”. The kids loved this!

  2. Yes, thanks for mentioning cootie catchers. Here’s a link to a cootie catcher template: We also used cootie catchers to create writing prompts recently. The kids had a lot of fun with it. Some choose to use single words or phrases, others drew icons or simple pictures, and still others wrote detailed prompts.

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