Story Squad and Estes Hills Elementary School Win Prestigious Scholastic Grant

heroA grant submitted to the Scholastic Patterson Partnership in collaboration with Estes Hills Elementary School in Chapel Hill has been selected as one of 467 national winners in a pool of applications that exceeded 28,000!  

Our project will use the funds to:

  1. Develop the folklore collection at the school library with particular emphasis on books that are accessible to developing readers in kindergarten and first grades.
  2. Bring Story Squad storytellers into the kindergarten classrooms to tell the stories that have been added to the collection to motivate children to read the books.

Research shows that storytelling is a valuable method of building reading excitement and motivation, as children who may struggle to read the text may encounter the stories aurally first, building familiarity and easing the reading transition.  Storytelling also adds a layer of drama to the printed page, modeling the feeling of immersive reading.

We look forward to extending the relationship with Estes Hills (where we already share stories each week with first grade classes) into the kindergarten classrooms.

First International Education Week Celebration at SILS Features World Storytelling

Story Squad tellers Sarah Beth Nelson and Brian Sturm shared tales from the various countries where SILS has international exchange programs to highlight these cultural opportunities for students.  We told the stories:

  • How Pig and Bear went into Business Together (they buy each other’s food and find they’ve sold everything and have no money to show for it) from the Czech Republic
  • What the Old Man Does is Always Right (he trades down from a cow to a bag of rotten apples, but his wife is thrilled as she then had apples to trade with a neighbor) from Denmark
  • The Cat’s Tail (how the Singapore cat got its stumpy tail) from Singapore
  • The Origin of Fire (how an earthquake rattles flint stones into sparking the first fire) from Chile
  • Boudica’s Final Speech (about a queen of the British Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the occupying Roman forces from England
  • The Pheasants and the Bell (about a woodcutter who saves the life of some birds, who in turn save his life) from Korea


Storytelling Under the Stars Draws Record Crowd

Program 2015Well, we opened up the 6th annual Storytelling Under the Stars event to the public for the first time this year (it used to be for members only), and the response was wonderful.  More than 85 people joined us for celestial stories.  They heard a Yoruba story about the Coming of Night, a Native American (Shoshone) tale of the origin of the Milky Way, as Grizzly Bear shook snow from his fur, a West Coast Salish tale about the origin of the constellation Auriga as women tried to protect their dinner from a hungry and lazy skunk, and a West African wisdom tale about a Wise Man and the Butterfly.

We hope to see you all at the 7th annual event next year in early November 2017.

6th Annual Storytelling Under the Stars

ImageStory Squad and the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center are teaming up once again to tell celestial stories under the glorious dome of the night sky inside the planetarium.  It’s a wonderful way to hear stories, surrounded by twinkling lights and the deep darkness that is the night sky without light pollution. Come listen as storytellers bring the night sky to life!  This storytelling event is open to the public.

When: Sunday, November 8th, 2015 at 5:00pm

Where: Morehead Planetarium on the UNC campus

Ghost stories

Well, what a marvelous experience that was!  We went out to help Cedarock Park in Burlington celebrate its 40th anniversary by telling scary stories around their campfire.  We were told to expect between 50 and 60 people, and we arrived to see more than 250 folks gathered to hear stories.  What a celebration that turned out to be.  As the sky darkened and the star began to glitter above the trees, we lit tiki torches to create a “stage” and shared stories that were modestly scary so the young folks could enjoy the experience.  We then took a break for apple cider and roasting marshmallows, and returned for two disturbing stories of “monster” children.  Everyone seemed to have fun and enjoy the scare…we hope parents had no children up late that night with nightmares.  Thanks to the Alamance County Public Library and the Alamance County Parks and Recreation Department for hosting Story Squad for this scary story evening.

Ghost Stories

GhostStoriesStory Squad will be sharing ghostly tales starting at 7:00pm in Cedarock Park in Burlington.  We’ll tell “slightly scary” tales from about 7:00-7:45pm, then have a short break and return for truly bone-chilling tales from 8:00-8:30pm.

Come for the lighter beginning and stay, if you dare, for the second half (which is not for the faint of heart or the nightmare prone)!!!!

Storytelling at Campout Carolina

campout carolinaStory Squad ventured to a small park in Durham for a local experience of a state-wide venture called Campout Carolina.  Tellers and listeners gathered around a bonfire (the perfect place for stories) and shared time together.  Stephanie shared a story about the origin of stories, Jenny told a story about the sun and stars, and Dan told an Anansi story about how spider got a small waste.


We got a wonderful compliment from a first grader the other day.  After one of our tellers had finished his story, the child jumped up and called out in his loudest voice, “Your stories are AWESOME!  I wish you were my Dad!”

Now there is high praise for storytelling!

Club Boulevard Magnet School’s Summer Reading Celebration

Story Squad was featured at the Club Boulevard Humanities Magnet Elementary School in Durham today.  Those students who read books over the summer were invited to the celebration during which Story Squad shared stories, and then the children were able to select a book and bookmark of their choice.  For the 1st-3rd-grade group, we told a tale from Mississippi about how rabbit escaped from wildcat by luring turkeys into wildcat’s grasp instead, but rabbit lost her tail in the process.  We also told a Native American tale about how coyote learned his “crying song.”  For the older 4-5th graders, we told an urban legend and the New Zealand folktale about how Maui fished up the island of New Zealand using his grandmother’s magic jawbone fishhook.

It was a wonderful celebration of literacy and reading.