Welcome to Our New Website

Once upon a time, storytelling was how people learned about their history and came to make sense of their world. I argue that this tradition of learning through storytelling is as powerful now as it was over 2000 years ago. For example, I do not doubt that in fifty years’ time children will hear the story, ‘once upon a time, there was a virus that spread across the world and no child or adult could leave their homes…’. My primary interest is in education, with a focus on how children are supported and encouraged to learn and develop using their innate imagination and creative abilities. My research reviews national and international theory and educational practice relating to story-based teaching methods; I aim to evaluate the impact of story-based approaches to learning and development in early childhood learning environments. This website will provide insights into how we can take models of best practice from around the world and explore how such teaching practices would work in an Irish context. My commitment to finding holistic, relational, and inclusive ways to help children learn has been influenced by many great scholars from around the world. For example:

  • Vivian Gussin Paley an American kindergarten educator, researcher, and author carried out extensive research which explored how the child’s original stories and fantasy play supports children’s intellectual, emotional, and social interactions in early childhood (Paley 1981).
  • Louise Philips an Australian educator, researcher, and professional storyteller centres on storytelling as pedagogy to explore concepts of social justice with young children (Philips, 2012).
  • Mary Roche, an Irish educator, researcher, and author, emphasises how we can develop children’s critical thinking using quality picturebooks (Roche, 2015).

My past research has focused on using stories told or stories read to develop social and emotional development. I also carried out research examining early childhood educators understanding of cultural diversity using picturebooks or oral stories. Currently, drawing from the work of Kieran Egan (1986), I am researching storytelling as a teaching model with children in preschool settings.


Paley, V. (1981). Wally’s Stories: Conversations in the Kindergraten. London: Harvard University Press.

Phillips, L. (2012). Retribution and rebellion: Children’s meaning making of justice through storytelling. International Journal of Early Childhood, 44(2), 141156.

Roche, M. (2015). Developing Children’s Critical Thinking through Picturebooks: A guide for primary and early years’ students and teachers. Oxon: Routledge.

Dr Catherine (Kitty) O'Reilly

Dr Catherine (Kitty) O'Reilly Collage

Posted on 23rd April, 2020, under News