Have you ever taken part in an interactive story? When the storyteller says a certain word within the story, the audience responds with a sound or a descriptive word. For instance, if the storyteller says ‘wind,’ the audience responds by saying ‘whoooo’ each time that word is used.

Interactive storytelling is a great technique to use to encourage children to listen as you tell a story. With young children you might use only one word they respond to, with older children more. Adults sometimes enjoy this kind of storytelling as well, just for fun.

The following is an interactive rendition of the story of Jonah from the Old Testament. You’re welcome to use it, or you can make up one of your own.

Give these instructions or write them out on a chalkboard or whiteboard for the audience.

When I say: “The LORD”      You say: “awesome!”

                     “Jonah,”                          “the prophet.”

                     “Nineveh”                        “the great city”

                    “the ship”                   You: rock back and forth

                     “wind”                  You say: “whooooooo!”

                     “storm”                               “swoosh!”

                     “fish”                                   “swish, swish”

The LORD (awesome) said to Jonah (the prophet), “Go to the city of Ninevah (the great city) and tell them I know their wickedness.”

Instead, Jonah (the prophet) ran away from the LORD (awesome). Jonah (the prophet) hid in the bottom of the ship (rock back and forth), thinking he could hide from the LORD (awesome). He fell asleep.

The LORD (awesome) sent a great wind (whooooo), and the storm (swoosh) was so violent that the ship (rock back and forth) almost broke apart. The sailors, frightened by the storm (swoosh), prayed to their gods and threw the ship’s (rock back and forth) cargo overboard.

The captain of the ship (rock back and forth) woke Jonah (the prophet) up. “How can you sleep?” the captain yelled. “Get up and call on the LORD (awesome), and maybe we won’t all die in this storm (swoosh)!”

Jonah (the prophet) said that the LORD (awesome) had sent the storm (swoosh) because Jonah (the prophet) had disobeyed the LORD (awesome). The storm (swoosh) got worse, so Jonah (the prophet) told the sailors to throw him overboard. They did. The storm (swoosh) stopped. A great fish (swish-swish) swallowed Jonah (the prophet).

Jonah (the prophet) prayed to the LORD (awesome) from inside the fish (swish-swish). The fish (swish-swish) vomited Jonah (the prophet) out on dry land. The LORD (awesome) again told Jonah (the prophet) to go to Ninevah (the great city) to tell them the word of the LORD (awesome). Jonah (the prophet) obeyed this time.

The people of Ninevah (the great city) believed the LORD (awesome). They were sorry for their wickedness. They trusted in the LORD (awesome).

Jonah (the prophet) didn’t want the LORD (awesome) to save Ninevah (the great city). The Lord (awesome) said to him, “Should I not be concerned about Ninevah (the great city) with more than 120,000 people who will die if they don’t know about Me?”

Beth E Westcott