Printable Retelling Checklist [PDF Included]

Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Editorial Team

The art of storytelling has been an essential part of human culture since the dawn of civilization. Whether it’s a simple bedtime story, an epic myth, or a captivating novel, stories have the power to captivate and inspire us. However, retelling a story is not always an easy task, as it requires careful planning and execution to ensure that the essence of the original story is preserved while making it engaging and relevant for the intended audience.

Hence, besides using other tools like games, activities, and much more, a retelling checklist can also be put to use, as it is a powerful tool that can help you create a compelling and memorable retelling. The Retelling Checklist is a comprehensive guide that outlines the key elements that make a story compelling, including the characters, setting, plot, tone, and style.

In this post, we will explore the Retelling Checklist in detail, looking at each of its elements and how you can use them to develop captivating retelling skills. Whether you’re a seasoned storyteller or a novice, the Retelling Checklist is sure to be an invaluable resource in your creative toolbox.

Exploring the research on the effectiveness of retelling

Research[1] on retelling has shown that it can be a powerful tool for improving reading comprehension and overall literacy skills. By retelling a story, students are forced to engage with the text and process the information in a meaningful way, which can improve their understanding of the story and its underlying themes.

Several studies[2] have found that students who regularly practice retelling show significant improvements in their reading comprehension, vocabulary, and overall literacy skills.

Retelling has also been found to be effective in improving the writing skills of students. When students are asked to retell a story in their own words, they are forced to organize their thoughts and convey their ideas in a clear and concise manner, which can improve their writing skills.

Additionally, research[3] has shown that retelling can be an effective strategy for improving memory and recall. When students are asked to retell a story, they are forced to recall key details and events, which can strengthen their memory and help them retain information for longer periods of time.

Overall, research[4] indicates that retelling can be a valuable tool for improving literacy skills, memory, and recall. By incorporating retelling exercises into the classroom or personal reading routine, students can improve their understanding and appreciation of stories while also building essential literacy skills.

A comprehensive checklist for effective retelling

  1. Was the principal notion of the original tale clear to you?
  2. Were the essential particulars of the story jotted down by you?
  3. Did you utilize your own terminology to narrate the story?
  4. Did you incorporate all the significant episodes of the story into your retelling?
  5. Did you omit any key episodes from the source material?
  6. Did you introduce any new elements or occurrences in your retelling?
  7. Did the tone of your narrative align with that of the original story (e.g. solemn, jocular, etc.)?
  8. Did you communicate the same message or lesson of the story in your retelling?
  9. Did you alter any character attributes or motivations from the original story?
  10. Did you retain the original setting of the story?
  11. Did you provide adequate details of the setting to assist the listener in visualizing it?
  12. Did you utilize accurate and appropriate language for your target audience?
  13. Did you use proper grammar and sentence structure in your retelling?
  14. Were any direct quotes from the original story incorporated in your retelling?
  15. Was attribution of any quotes to the correct character provided by you?
  16. Did you properly cite any quotes or information from the original story?
  17. Were any nonverbal cues, such as gestures or facial expressions, employed by you to help convey the story?
  18. Was your enunciation clear and at an appropriate pace for your audience?
  19. Was your vocal inflection suitable for conveying emotion and tone?
  20. Did you actively engage your audience with questions or prompts during your retelling?
  21. Did your retelling possess a clear beginning, middle, and end?
  22. Were transition words or phrases employed by you to connect the different parts of the story?
  23. Was the duration of your retelling within reasonable limits?
  24. Did you rehearse your retelling before presenting it to your audience?
  25. Did you receive feedback from your audience to enhance your retelling for future occasions?

How to use the checklist

With several real-life examples, a retelling checklist is a tool used to assess a person’s comprehension and understanding of a story or text. Here are some steps to use the retelling checklist:

  1. Read the story or text: The first step is to read the story or text that you want to retell. Read it carefully and make sure you understand the plot, characters, and main ideas.
  2. Retell the story: After reading the story, try to retell it in your own words. You can do this orally or in writing.
  3. Use the retelling checklist: Once you have finished retelling the story, use the retelling checklist to evaluate your understanding. The checklist typically includes a list of questions or statements that you can use to check if you have included all the important elements of the story. Some common elements that might be included in the retelling checklist are:
    • Who are the main characters?
    • What is the setting?
    • What is the problem or conflict?
    • How is the problem or conflict resolved?
    • What is the main idea or theme of the story?
  4. Review and revise: After using the retelling checklist, review your retelling and make any necessary revisions to ensure you have included all the important elements of the story.
  5. Repeat if necessary: If you did not include all the important elements of the story, or if you did not understand some parts of the story, read the story again and try to retell it again using the retelling checklist. Repeat this process until you are satisfied that you have a good understanding of the story.


In conclusion, a retelling checklist is a useful tool for assessing comprehension and understanding of a story or text. It helps individuals ensure that they have included all the important elements of the story in their retelling, such as the main characters, setting, problem or conflict, resolution, and theme.

By using the retelling checklist, individuals can identify areas where they may need to improve their understanding of the story and make any necessary revisions to their retelling. At the same time, oftentimes, the retelling is compared to summarizing, but it is crucial to understand that both are very different from one another. Hence, it is a valuable tool for improving reading comprehension and can be used by readers of all ages and skill levels


  1. Reed, D. K., & Vaughn, S. (2012). Retell as an Indicator of Reading Comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading, 16(3), 187–217.
  2. Cao, Y., & Kim, Y. G. (2021). Is retell a valid measure of reading comprehension? Educational Research Review, 32, 100375.
  3. Dudukovic, N. M., Marsh, E. J., & Tversky, B. (2004). Telling a story or telling it straight: the effects of entertaining versus accurate retellings on memory. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 18(2), 125–143.
  4. Roberts, G., Good, R., & Corcoran, S. (2005). Story retell: A fluency-based indicator of reading comprehension. School Psychology Quarterly, 20(3), 304–317.

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