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????
May your holidays be filled with wonderful stories, of lands far away, magical adventures, and family extravaganzas. Tell stories together….it builds community, shares your beliefs and values, and helps develop our sense of wonder in this incredible world we share. Be safe and have happy times. – Story Squad
Storytellers from Story Squad joined the Estes Hills (Chapel Hill) Elementary School Scholastic Bookfair with the theme of Sir Readalot’s Castle. We shared stories from Hungary, Myanmar, Scotland, and Native America (Lenni Lenape) to a group of 50 school children and their parents. Dueling giants, hiccupping royalty, an angry dragon, and a fearless crow featured in our stories.
The 22nd annual Winter Stories at UNC-Chapel Hill was another rousing success. Children of all ages – and I mean ALL ages – showed up to hear stories, sing songs, eat candy and cookies, drink hot chocolate, and otherwise share time together as part of this wonderful community. The storytellers were “awesome” (to quote one young listener). Mark riddle told a Lenni Lenape tale about how Rainbow Crow helped warm the earth and melt the snow by obtaining fire, but in the process, lost his beautiful singing voice and charred all of his rainbow feathers black; however, if you look closely at a crow’s feathers in the sunlight, they still shimmer with all of the colors of the rainbow, his reward for his bravery and self-sacrifice. Sarah Beth Nelson shared a story about Boreas, the North Wind, and how we desperately wanted to marry Oreithyia, but she wanted nothing to do with him. He showed all of his power as he tried to impress her, but what impressed her the most was when he learned some humility and asked her to marry him, instead of demanding it. After a sing-along interlude, Brian Sturm and Jenny Parks (on Celtic harp) shared a story about the Cailleach, the winter hag of Scotland, and how she ruled over the land from the mountain of Ben Nevis. She captured Springtime and wouldn’t let her marry Summer, but eventually the two found each other and overthrew the Cailleach so warmth could return to the land. But only for a while, for she regains her strength and covers the mountains with her snowy fleece each year, warming people to put on their warm clothes and huddle by their fires until Spring and Summer can return. Amy Sayle then told a Native American Alutiiq story about the Girl Who Married the Moon by being able to keep her eyes closed for the entire journey to the sky world; but once there, she quickly got bored and went exploring. She found people lying face down and peering through holes in the ground with shining masks on their faces (stars), and then she went to the forbidden area of the moon’s home and found his moon masks. When he discovered her, he came to understand that she needed a purpose in the sky world, so the two of them shared the moon’s cycle.
A special thank you to the musicians: Michael Chen (violin), Heather Maneiro (voice), Jenny Parks (Celtic harp), and Emily Vardell (oboe), who delighted the audience with introductory music and sing-along accompaniment. Also a heart-felt thank you to the folks behind the scenes who make this event possible each year: Liza Terll and Tanya Fortner. You two are the best!