What happens when you mix together in a park setting, authors, performers, books, workshops, and biblio-enthusiasts? Durham’s Read Local Festival! What a marvelous idea! Story Squad joined in the “celebrity reads” section of the festival to share a folktale from Indonesia. Why storytelling at a reading festival? Because, as our tagline states, “reading begins with hearing”! And what better things to hear than stories that have withstood the test of time…LOTS of time. The particular story we shared was about a stonecutter who wishes to be the most powerful thing in the world. With a series of wishes, he transforms from his humble stonecutter status to become the king, the sun, the clouds, the wind, and a mountain, but each time he finds something that is stronger than himself. As the mountain, he finds the stonecutter carving rocks from his base, and so his final wish is to return to the strongest thing he could ever be…himself!
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the McKimmon Center for Extension and Lifelong Learning at NC State University brought in storytellers Sarah Beth Nelson and Brian Sturm to share personal narrative and folk stories with their adult learners. Sarah Beth told a personal story about being the Matron of Honor at her sister’s wedding, and Brian shared the Vietnamese folktale called The Love Crystal about a noblewoman who falls in love with a fisherman and his music (believing him to be a prince in disguise) and realizes, too late, that she actually did love him, too. Other storytellers there were Cynthia Raxter, from Bynum, and Alan Hoal, from Cary.
What a marvelous time we had at the Durham County Storytelling Festival. Story Squad tellers Mark Riddle, Sarah Beth Nelson, Nan Pincus, Amy Sayle, and Brian Sturm shared the stage with Willa Brigham, Ron Jones, Louise Omoto Kessel, Alan Hoal, and Cynthia Raxter, bringing folktales and personal narrative tales to the enjoyment of the assembled group. Thanks to all of the folks at the Durham County Library who made this event possible…it was a fantastic time, and we hope to be part of it in the future as it grows.
We visited Graham, NC and the Mayco Bigelow Community Center this morning to share a workshop on how to find, learn, and perform stories so that they become as enchanting as possible. The audience was children’s librarians attending a summer reading workshop sponsored by the NC State Library (thanks Lori Special for your role in putting this together) and thanks to Michelle Mills for inviting us. Now here’s the story: we arrived at the central library on S. Main Street before our session was to start (luckily) as the workshop was in the Bigelow center when we thought it was in the library. So then the challenge was to get across town within the speed limit (mostly) before our session started at the new location. We almost made it on time, but it just goes to show you that “the best laid plans often go awry”…now what story was that line from? Well, since you asked….
The original is actually from Scottish poet Robert Burns’ poem To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up In Her Nest with the Plough (1785). The original text is: “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/ Gang aft agley.”
What a delightful experience we had today at the Durham Center for Senior Life. The whole building was humming with activity: exercise classes, food, billiards, background live piano music. And in the theater, Story Squad shared folktales from around the globe. We laughed with (and at) Anansi the Spider from Africa, as he tried to outwit Turtle and avoid sharing his food. We chuckled as Wicked John outwitted the Devil and tried to make his way into heaven (unsuccessfully) after he died. The gentle story of the Cracked Little Water Pot touched the listeners with its deep sensitivity to how even the flaws in our natures can be useful. As one listener remarked, “God puts you where you’re needed,” and another echoed this sentiment, “We all have a purpose.” When the time was over, we were asked for “just one more.” We were only too happy to oblige….
Story Squad offered a storytelling workshop for adults at Southwest Regional in Durham last Tuesday. We had a marvelous time sharing stories and talking about the craft and art of storytelling. One participant was interested in how to read aloud from her new picture books, so we addressed the performance techniques for reading aloud as well as storytelling. Another wanted to bring storytelling into her school classroom (BRAVO!), so we explored the value of stories in education. Another was interested in storytelling and branding….so we ran the gamut of possible used of story during our hour-and-a-half together.
Story Squad met with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Sunrise Rotary Club (at 7:15am, so the name is apt) to share how to “tell the Rotary story” more effectively. We shares stories, spoke about the shift in marketing from fear-based (“you’ve got a problem, and our product will solve it”) to association-based (“look who’s using our product”) to storytelling (“this story represents who our company is and what it does”). We spoke about immersive stories, and how they capture the attention inside the story world and defeat our natural human tendency to be skeptical, dispassionate, and analytical (much like propaganda does), and then we covered numerous ways that we can improve our stories to increase the likelihood of people relating to our story characters and accepting our narratives. Thank you Rotary for the chance to “talk story” with you!
Story Squad and students from the School of Information and Library Science commemorated Dr. Seuss’ birthday with a sharing of stories by that acclaimed author. Whether it was The Cat in the Hat or The Sneetches, The King’s Stilts or Hunches in Bunches, the children thoroughly enjoyed hearing the rollicking rhythms and rolling rhymes of Dr. Seuss and his wacky cast of characters. Monica Boswell, the Property Manager and our collaborator on site, said, “I wanted to thank you and your team for making our Dr. Seuss event AWESOME! The families that came were so happy and thankful. Your partnership is much appreciated!” So is yours, Monica! Thank you for opening your doors and letting our stories in.
Congratulations to the Story Squad storytellers for competing successfully for performance slots in the upcoming 2015 Durham County Library Storytelling Festival. Our tellers took all four available slots with their storytelling prowess. We’re immensely proud of them all! Please join us and the featured storytellers at the 2015 Celebration of Storytelling, Saturday, March 21st, from 10:00am until 2:00pm in the Main Library at 300 N. Roxboro St. in Durham. It’s free and open to the public.
I just read this quote from an interview with Ginny Moore Kruse about her experience on the Charlotte Zolotow award committee (for the best picture book text). She says: “Experience with language in a wide range of ways makes a huge difference for all babies and preschoolers’ facility with spoken language and with their emergent literacy. To develop to their greatest potential, young children must have opportunities to hear a variety of language patterns and words put together in a variety of ways.” I wonder if she was thinking about Story Squad when she said this????