1. Start off by reading the story straight from the Bible. Check out a couple of different versions and translations
2. Then, read the story from a reputatable, biblically-sound Bible storybook. Make sure it doesn’t add people who aren’t in the Bible or have animals/inanimate objects telling the story. I always use Egermeier’s Bible Storybook because I know I can count on it being completely accurate. It also has 321 stories in it, so more than likely, I’ll never need to go in search of a story that isn’t there.
3. Make a copy of the pages from the storybook. Get out your red pen and highlighter and mark it up according to what would be helpful for the storytelling technique you’ll be using. If there are key words that will come up in the lesson later on, then highlight those so you make sure you include them. If you’re going to ask kids to respond throughout the story, then mark the places where that’s going to happen.
4. Practice out loud. You can read a story over and over, but until you have to say it out loud, you don’t really know how well you know it. Hearing yourself say the words will also cement it into your memory.
5. Five words. If you need more than five words as prompts, then you don’t know the story well enough. A single word can cue you to the next part of the story. Write them on the back wall, on an index card, or on the palm of your hand—somewhere not very noticeable. As quick as a blink of the eye, you can check for the next word that will transition you to the next important scene in the story.
6. Gather everything you need and practice using it. Don’t wait until the last minute and assume a prop or costume is available. You don’t want to get thrown off your game or have to come up with Plan B at the last minute. If you have props, then pick them up and go through the motions of how they’ll be incorporated into the story.
7. Throw away your cheat sheet. If you’ve practiced, have your five words, and know the story, then don’t hold onto a cheat sheet … “just in case.” What will happen is that you’ll lose your confidence and find yourself reading from the sheet. If it’s not there, you’ll have to call upon your preparation to lead you in engaging the kids.