The Caribbean Story Finder is here!

…For access to vibrant tales which grew from the resilience of slaves and immigrants, with sources for their music. First year’s royalties for this book will go to Americares for Caribbean relief.

From Preface:  “A lot more needs to be done to put some beautiful books and recordings out there for Latino and Hispanic communities, and I believe this Caribbean Story Finder is part of a growing challenge to give people back their heritage and to catch the stories before they disappear.. What it does is identify their own cultural stories for adults and children within the largest minority in the United States and to acknowledge the magic and strength, adventure and song in their tales with the rest of the world.   From canny tricksters to the seductive La Diablesse and dangerous loup-garous, the next pages will let you know what those are.” 

The Latin American Story Finder is here!

LASF homegrown

After three intense years of research and many decisions, I am thrilled to be able to share this resource, which gives access to 470 summaries and sources for tales, many of which I’d never come across before in 35 years of sharing stories as a librarian.

Check out more about the guide and its journey: 

The Latin American Story Finder

And here’s where you can find The Latin American Story Finder plus a full Table of Contents:



“An indispensible tool for accessing the accumulated wit and wisdom of Jewish folklore….This second edition…is wider and broader and deeper and richer than ever.” Michal Hoschander Malen

One couldn’t ask for a sweeter review of the new edition of The Jewish Story Finder than this one from Jewish Book World Fall 2013:

Click here to read more about The Jewish Story Finder.

New review for The Jewish Story Finder, 2nd ed.!

From CHOICE, January 2013

Jewish folktales scholar Peninnah Schram writes in her introduction, Within the Jewish oral tradition are all the various genres of folktales that appear in world folklore:  fairytales, mystical tales, supernatural tales, allegories, religious tales, Hasidic tales, trickster and “fool of the world’ tales, parables, fables, myths, and more. This oral tradition is central to the reinforcement and transmission of Jewish values.  But these individual gems of wisdom and entertainment often are difficult to locate.  In this expanded second edition. librarian and author Elswit creates an effective tool to help educators, storytellers, clerics, and general readers find these tales in modern, English-language sources…user friendly and entertaining….

Recommended. Academic, parochial, and public libraries; lower-level undergraduates and above, and general readers —D. Mizrachi, University of California, Los Angeles.

The Jewish Story Finder: A Guide to 668 Tales Listing Subjects and Sources


Welcome to the Story Finder blog

I am a children’s librarian, a storyteller, a voracious reader, a leader of adult book discussions,  a folklore book reviewer, and creator of folktale guides.

  • If this space can help to get some wonderful, timeless folktales out there and into people’s hands
  • If this space can let you know about some tools to help you search for a story to address a certain need
  • If this space can generate warm conversation around a storytelling table

Then that’s why it is here.

Find out what’s in The Jewish Story Finder and The East Asian Story Finder – these innovative guides to identifying stories by subject and tracking down their sources.  Read how they came to be.  Check out quality online resources which point the way to whole stories, tips about storytelling, and storytellers.  Join the conversation around the table. I’ll get us started….

Sharing Stories    There is a real zing to being able to bring an international array of stories to children from diverse backgrounds. It’s like biting into the first tart McIntosh     apple in early fall.  The child whose culture is being presented sits a little straighter.   And everyone benefits – tolerance and empathy grow – from laughing or holding your breath with a character who may be different from you.  This, plus a love for the stories themselves, is what has spurred my Story Finders.  Too often the same few tales are told over and over, as if that’s all there is to represent a particular culture.  So much more is out there, hidden in collections here and there.  I want to help connect people to stories they need.

The new Jewish Story Finder includes a reference to the story “Truth and Parable,” about how much more a lesson will hit home when it is dressed as a story.  The Native Americans knew this. Better to tell a story than to lecture. When the Iroquois storyteller would arrive, he was given an honored place by the fire, and whole families gathered round.

Folktales have been handed down through the generations for a reason, to communicate human truths and values.  Not all of the stories are for children alone.  They may be heard at different levels.  You never know which story will speak to someone and bring comfort at the moment she needs it.  Perhaps there is illness in the family.  This past year I saw a Japanese boy riveted by the West African story of the “Cow-Tail Switch” retold by Harold Courlander, where a father returns from the dead because he has not been forgotten.

Stories for healing, hope, laughter, and resilience.  It is my passion and my goal, to get the stories out there for you to share.  This Spring 2012, I was invited to participate in Betsy Bird ‘s Global Stories Salon at the New York Public Library.  The ending to the award-winning book   A Story, A Story, an African tale about Anansi the spider retold by Gail E. Haley, fits here, too:  “This is my story which I have related.  If it be sweet, or if it be not sweet, take some elsewhere, and let some come back to me.”