As New York's official storyteller beginning in 1967, Wolkstein visited two of the city's parks each weekday, staging hundreds of one-woman storytelling events. After successfully talking her way into the position, she realized "there was no margin for error," she said in a 1992 interview. "I mean, it was a park. [The children would] just go somewhere else if they didn't like it."
She also had a radio show on WNYC, Stories From Many Lands, from 1968 until 1980, and she helped create the Storytelling Center of New York City.
Wolkstein authored two dozen books, primarily collections of folk tales and legends she gathered during research trips. She made many visits to China, Haiti and Africa. She collaborated with Assyriologist Samuel Noah Kramer to translate Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, the story of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of fertility, love, and war.
Wolkstein was born in Newark, New Jersey and grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey. Her father Henry was an accountant and her mother Ruth was a librarian. She received a bachelor's degree from Smith College and a master's degree in education from Bank Street College of Education. While living in Paris, she studied mime under Étienne Decroux. She had a daughter, Rachel Zucker.
- Vitello, Paul (3 February 2013). "Diane Wolkstein, Author Who Led a Storytelling Revival, Dies at 70". The New York Times. p. B3. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
- "Diane Wolkstein collection". Library of Congress. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
- Lanset, Andy (23 March 2020). "Diane Wolkstein and Stories From Many Lands". NYPR Archives & Preservation. Retrieved 20 August 2020.