Odds Bodkin’s Philosophy about Children and Imagination

If today’s children are digitally “re-wired,” why bother with spoken-word storytelling? Unlike movies, there are no visuals. Where’s the interactivity? Where are the buttons? On the surface, the entertainment experience looks incomplete.

Simply put, therein lies its power. The act of listening taps our inborn ability to create mental images. If “imagination is more important than knowledge” as Einstein famously said, then the very act of imagining builds strength and flexibility in kids’ minds, firing up new neural nets and improving their ability to gain knowledge across the board. It’s not just stories they learn, it’s how to use their minds. Spoken-word stories are interactive with the brain itself.

Timeless ones––fairytales, myths, folktales, sacred stories––still exist because they carry ethical lessons that generations have seen fit to pass on. Because most cultures worldwide believe that kindness, courage, loyalty, truthfulness, compassion, curiosity and other virtues enhance our lives, they’ve always told stories about them. My favorites are here, brought to life with characters and something else––flavored music. I create my own, performed live as I speak. The same way movie music can excite us, relax us, even scare us, the music works as a second dramatic voice to guide young listeners’ feelings.

The best ethical teaching takes place when kids are thoroughly entertained.



Hear an in-depth interview with Odds about imagination and how he combines music, character voices and sounds to create his unique art. Interviewer: Brother Wolf, storyteller.


Since 1982, professional storyteller Odds Bodkin has combined dramatic voices, vocal effects, narrative and live music to create imaginative experiences for audiences. During those decades he has created hundreds of tales that range from a four hour version of The Odyssey to children’s musicals. Universities and Classical associations invite him to perform his versions of Homer, while schools assemble K-2 and 3-6 graders to experience GOLDEN RULE, his highly-effective shows that teach kindness using stories and conversation with students. Middle and high school audiences sit spellbound when he tells Hercules: The Legendary Bully. Using only 12-string guitars, Celtic harp and folk instruments without electronic effects, he transforms his voice into heroes, giants, villains and animals while playing live music to create vivid, cinematic soundscapes. He also creates realistic effects with his voice––water droplets, wind, galloping hoofs, crashing waves––to add imagery to his tales.

A published children’s author and award-winning recording artist, he has toured Great Britain, performed twice at The White House, been called “a consummate storyteller” by The New York Times for his Off-Broadway shows at Lincoln Center and been a Featured Teller at the National Storytelling Festival. Museums like the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston hire him to tell stories about works in their collections, while companies and organizations like IBM and Target commission original performances and voice-overs for outreach and educational media. His recordings and books have won Parents’ Choice, Indie, Golden Headset, Storytelling World, Pick of the Lists, Editors’ Choice and Dove awards.