About Jim May

Jim was born in Spring Grove, Illinois where his ancestors first settled in the 1840’s. Raised in this small German-Catholic farming community, his stories resonate with the rural voices of the Illinois prairie. His relatives spent time “visiting” and telling stories as an integral part of daily life–a means of weaving the social fabric of the community.
As an Emmy award-winning storyteller and author, Jim seeks to reestablish live storytelling as an art form, ideal not only for entertainment and education, but also for the grounding and healing that is needed in complex, modern times.

For centuries telling and listening to stories has been a way for people to enjoy and cherish one another’s company. When I tell a story I try to entertain and delight, but also to capture, for a few moments, the kind of direct, soul to soul communication that we have all experienced at some time in our lives under the ‘spell’ of a story, either in the listening or the telling.

Jim May’s stories have taken him across the United States and Europe. He has told at schools, corporations, professional groups, and festivals across the land. Chicagoans know him from his appearances on WGN’s Roy Leonard Show and from the Studs Terkel radio show on WFMT-FM. He received a 1989 Chicago Emmy award for a WTTW-Channel 11 production of his original story, “A Bell For Shorty.”

The artist and the storyteller

Jim May and his wife, Nan Seidler live less than a mile from the highest glaciated point in Illinois, which is 1,189 feet above sea level.┬áLocated east of Harvard in Alden Township, this area is unique in McHenry County, largely due to the rolling topography left by the glaciers. Some of the locals began referring to the area as High Point many years ago, realizing that they had something special. There are over 70 vernal pools, relic oak/hickory woodlands, seeps, springs and headwater streams all within a three mile radius. Jim and Nan thought about preserving their land for many years, and placed a conservation easement on 24 of their 25 acres in August, 2017. Read More…


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Jim loves this description of storytelling by Spencer Shaw:

“Storytelling perpetuates a folk art tradition that has gone on for ages and ages. It presents many genres of literature: myths, fables, epics, sagas, hero tales, legends, folk tales, fiction and poetry. It provides entertainment and motivation, builds a bridge to literature, provides a means for personal, social and intellectual growth, and develops a feeling of sensitivity to life and people of the past and present. Without moralizing, it embodies positive ethical, moral and spiritual values.”