If we want children to fully engage with the world around them we have to begin by developing their love of stories, and no one can do that better than a good storyteller.
Storytellers don't read from books: they tell stories in a live performance which is at once immediate, intimate, exciting and engrossing. A good storyteller can take an audience from hysterical laughter to gasps of surprise (and back again) with the twist of a phrase.
It's long been argued that children learn best when they experience something, and stories are often the best way to bring an experience into a classroom. A storyteller can take children back in time and around the world - from the top of Mount Olympus to the markets of Baghdad, from the ice and fire of the cold north to the heat and dust of the outback - and safely back again for hometime.
‘An excellent day, presented by a consumate professional, guaranteed to enthuse and inspire.’
The King’s School, Gloucester
‘I’ve never seen anything like it: absolutely, utterly, completely, totally one hundred percent inspirational!’
Blenheim Primary School, Southend on Sea
There aren't many full time professional Storytellers at work in the UK, and as far as we know John Harris is the only one who works exclusively with children and young people.
Over the last twenty years he's told stories to great acclaim in schools all over the UK and Ireland and been interviewed and told stories on BBC Radio 4, BBC 6 Music and Planet Rock.
Visits from John have been the prize in a national schools writing competition organised by a multinational corporation, and he's been a guest speaker at The Prince of Wales' Education Summer School, where Michael Morpurgo described his contribution as 'A Tour de Force'.
He's recently been filmed by The Oxford University Press telling Biff, Chip and Kipper stories to camera, and he's the author of four well loved books himself.
His work encourages listening and speaking skills, concentration, an understanding of narrative, and the love of stories which is the basis not just of a love of reading but of a fully rounded human being.
Most of his bookings are either return visits or the result of recommendation, and the single word most often used in response to his visits is "Spellbinding". When you see him yourself you'll understand why.
He has a repertoire of about 350 stories in his head, and he's always working on more so he's bound to have stories that will suit your needs and transfix your pupils.
His style is relaxed and conversational - he works very hard at making it look as if he's not working at all. He never works from scripts and can tell any one of his stories off the top of his head in a dozen different ways.
He never tells the same story twice in one day (unless he's asked to, of course) but he does ask each of his audiences to tell one of the stories they've heard to someone else before they get to bed that night. This leads to impromtu storytelling sessions in the playground or classroom and, judging by the feedback we've had, hundreds of parents get a story at bedtime after one of John's visits!
But don't take our word for it: scroll down to the bottom of the page to see just some of the (completely unsolicited) responses his visits have produced.
A visit from John is for either four performances of 60 minutes or five performances of 40 – 50 minutes
(plus a book signing at the end of the day).
For schools within 150 miles of John's home in Essex a visit costs £400.
Beyond 150 miles the cost is £500 and beyond England the cost is £600 per day
(or the Euro equivalent, based on the exchange rate at the time the booking is confirmed)
These costs are fully inclusive – there are no hidden extras.
The best way to contact John (and the only way to arrange a booking) is by email.
Please either complete the form below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(On the other hand, if you're a journalist, an eccentric millionaire wanting to give away a fortune, or a Hollywood producer looking for a decent story you can phone John on 07999 985986)
For more information about John's visits to schools click here to download an information pack
To learn more about John's Books please click here
(depending on your browser this may take you to another page)
'A truly amazing, utterly exceptional experience.'
Austin Friars St. Monica's School, Carlisle
‘Absolutely the best storyteller in the world!'
St. Helen's RC Junior School, Brentwood
‘My goodness, you earn your money. You must be exhausted at the end of the day!'
The Beacon School, Amersham
‘The girls were absolutely raving about you and your wonderful stories – it was fantastic and will definitely lead into some great work too.'
Guildford High School
The Royal School Haselmere
The whole day was an amazing experience for our children, and from the youngest aged 4 to the eldest, aged 12, the children were absolutely captivated by your stories. I am pleased to share with you some of the comments they made:
“Exquisite and imaginative, he paralysed us with words!”
“He makes you paint a picture in your head.”
“He raises the tension, then makes it explode in a ball of excitement.”
“He was hilarious, and I like how expressive he was with his face.”
“I liked his stories because they cheered me up. I have already read The Pearl in the Grass – it was very funny. His descriptions allowed the pictures to be very clear in my head.”
Ditcham Park School, Petersfield
‘I just wanted to say an ENORMOUS THANK YOU for your fabulous storytelling sessions. The children absolutely loved it from Reception through to Year 6. We will definitely be inviting you back next year and the staff are agreed that, if we can find someone to look after the children, we would like our own storytelling session. Awesome!!!'
Ethelbert Road Primary School, Faversham
‘All the children of this school think you are ‘Well Sick' which, apparently, is the ultimate compliment!'
Selwyn Primary School, London E13
‘Thank you so much for a wonderful day, all of the children came away from the day enthralled with your tales and many of them were still retelling them for a few weeks after. The yellow sock story went down a treat with my class, and I know many of them went home and secretly told the story to their siblings! Thank you so much for the donations of books to our school library. You'll be pleased to hear that The Geat made it onto the TOP TEN library list for February! And it is still being reserved for children to read. Thank you again for a wonderful experience, it helped to get our Storytelling week off to a fantastic start. We look forward to welcoming you back again soon.'
St. Pancras Catholic Primary School, Ipswich
‘Without exception we have had nothing but good news about your visit. Colleagues were astonished by the positive reaction from the fourth form (Y10). Stories are still emerging of tales being retold at home, and parents have been thanking the Head for such enthralling and enthusing sessions. Thank you for being such a success, so professional, so organised, so friendly, and so very understanding of children and their attitudes and behaviour.'
The King's School, Gloucester
‘The whole school is just buzzing with stories! Every child sat agog with their mouths open and I've just been in the playground and seen them telling the stories to their parents and other children. Everyone has had a wonderful day, thank you so much!'
Rochford Primary School, Essex
‘You completely engaged every child in the audience, and every child was completely entranced.'
Redbridge Primary School
‘Thank you for doing an amazing job when you visited. The children and teachers were inspired as a result and it has had a positive impact on their motivation and on the quality of their story writing. We carried out a weeks worth of lessons based on the visit and the children will be telling their stories to each other on world book day. You were a great model of how to use expression, tone, body language and pace to capture an audience and already I have seen an improvement in their ability to verbally communicate and their confidence in verbal story telling.'
St Helen's Catholic Junior School Academy, Brentwood
‘We have had yet another amazing day!'
Moseley School, Birmingham
‘Everyone has been raving about you all day, kids and staff, and I've been so looking forward to hearing you. You exceeded my expectations!'
Lea and Garside Primary School, Wiltshire
‘How do you do it? You just sit on a chair and all these amazing stories just pour out, it's like magic!'
Monk's Abbey Primary School, Lincoln
‘Thank you once again for another great day of storytelling'
Bilton Grange Prep School, Warwickshire
‘The kids have been raving all day, the staff have been raving all day, and my lot loved it - I've never seen them so quiet!'
St. Leonards Primary School, Heath and Reach
‘Wow! That was amazing!'
St. Chad's CE Primary School, Poulton Le Fylde
‘Everyone enjoyed your storytelling performances, both pupils and staff. We have one particular child who CANNOT sit still for any amount of time at all. He constantly wanders around the room, tidying trays, windowsills etc and generally fussing with things – yet this child SAT STILL for 45 mins enraptured with your stories.'
Westbury School, Nottingham
‘There is a feeling these days that children can't sit still and quiet and simply listen. You have completely and totally blown that myth away – they have all been spellbound!'
Kenyngton Manor Primary School, Sunbury on Thames
‘I wanted to thank you ever so much for the wonderful storytelling sessions over the past two days. I had so many staff and children express how impressed they were, both with the fantastic, engaging stories and with how focused and keen the children were. It really was so great to watch the children (some of them can struggle to sit still for two minutes!) sit for an hour, loving every minute of the wonderful stories you told.'
St. Mary's RC Primary School, London W10
‘We have had the most fantastic couple of days. Every child and adult in the school has said you're brilliant – absolutely everyone has had nothing but praise for you.'
Newport Primary Academy School, Barnstaple
‘I've never seen the children so rooted to the spot and utterly absorbed – how on earth do you keep that energy level all day?'
Licensed Victuallers' School, Ascot
‘Thank you, thank you, thank you! The children loved your stories, the staff loved your stories, and parents have mentioned today how much they love your stories because the children have done as you asked and shared your tales at home. Your energy and enthusiasm, your passion, your ability to hold us all transfixed – amazing!
Copthill School, Uffington, Lincolnshire
‘Year 6 are at that stage in the year where they think they know it all, but you had them in the palm of your hand. It was the quietest they've been for months, and apparently each session had the same effect on the kids all through the school – thank you!'
Quinton House School, Northampton
‘I'd had your card on the wall in my office for a while, intending to get in touch. Then on open day three separate parents looking around the school pointed to it and said “Oh he's great” so I thought I'd better book you. They were right!'
Abbot's Hill School, Hemel Hempstead
‘The children are buzzing and the feedback from staff has been amazing. They all say the children were utterly engrossed and that you pitched the stories at exactly the right level for each group - that's not easy!'
Hartsfield JMI School, Baldock, Herts
‘I am just emailing to thank you very much again for your visit today. My colleagues and the children have all been singing your praises. It was wonderful to see the pure power of storytelling take over the children as they listened, and the stories were very memorable.'
St. Edmund's School Hindhead
‘Once again I must tell you how much the boys loved it. See you next year!'
Eaton House School, London SW1
‘The whole school's buzzing with stories!'
Hazlemere C of E Combined School, High Wycombe
‘The children have been transfixed – and the staff have loved it, too!'
St. James Primary School, Leyland
‘Thank you so much – even the 7s and 8s were just sitting there totally agog!'
Home Grange School, Wokingham
‘Your reputation goes before you – and you've exceeded our expectations!'
St. John's Beaumont
‘It was a real pleasure to meet you today. Everyone really enjoyed your visit and the school was buzzing with excitement after each storytelling session. The teachers and other members of staff who were able to watch your performances all spoke so highly of the experience.'
St. Catherine's Prep School, Bramley