The 21st annual Winter Stories festival delighted children of all ages with stories, music, sing-alongs, and an incredible spread of cookies, candy, and hot chocolate. Over a hundred people braved the 66 degree heat wave (one of the most unseasonally warm days this year) to eat, drink, and be merry together, in what has become a marvelous holiday tradition.
The cold stories featured Dawna Neil telling “The Little Snow Child” from Russia about a childless elderly couple whose wish for a child is granted with a child of snow who disappears when the weather warms up but returns every winter to share the joy of the cold season. Brian Sturm shared another Russian tale “Why Snow is White” describing how, in the beginning, the world was colorless and four fairy sisters (the Seasons) decided to paint it with rainbow colors; however, they couldn’t agree on the colors, so each took 1/4 of the year and was able to paint whatever she choose. Winter, the eldest , had to help her sisters with their colors, using up all of her paints, so when it was finally her turn and snow began falling, she had only white with which to paint it.
The cuddly stories showcased Hannah Easley telling “The Three Spinners,” a German variant of Rumpelstiltskin in which a girl must spin flax or die until she is helped by three old women, one with a huge foot (from pushing the treadle), one with a huge lip (from licking the flax), and one with an enormous thumb (from twisting the flax). When the prince realizes his beautiful wife might look like them if he forces her to spin, he forbids her to spin for the rest of her life, and the woman and the three sisters share a conspiratorial wink. Cameron Kania share a Dutch Colonies tale about the “Baker’s Dozen” and how a magical old woman turned a stingy baker into a generous one and established the tradition of bakers giving thirteen cookies instead of twelve when a dozen are ordered.
We also had a wonderful group of musicians who entertained the audience with traditional holiday songs and led a rousing rendition of Jingle Bells for the entire audience.
Story Squad shared stories of the night skies with four 3rd grade classes at Club Boulevard Humanities Magnet this week. The children were just beginning their study of space, and the stories introduced them to the folk origins of the stars, the moon, and the Milky Way. One child was overheard saying, “This is gonna be good!” We hope it was!
The 4th annual Storytelling Under the Stars program (an ongoing collaboration between Story Squad and the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus, was a rousing success. We told folk stories about the night skies from the Native American and First Nations traditions, and from Estonia and Hawaii. Eight-five members of the planetarium and their guests enjoyed tales about fox and raven stealing the moon from sleepy bear; lazy coyote decorating the heavens with pieces of an unknown shiny material that becomes stars; six wives who eat wild onions and leave their unloving husbands (who can’t stand the smell) to live in the skies as the Pleiades; and two stories about the Milky Way: one about Lindu, daughter of the Sky King, who searches for a husband and decides on the Northern Lights. She weaves her wedding veil while waiting for her husband to arrive, but he never does, so her bridal veil spans the sky; and a Hawaii’an story of the hero Ka’ulu who vanquishes myriad foes as he rescues his kidnapped brother from the Chief of the Sharks, whom he throws into the sky to become the Milky Way. What a marvelous place to share stories….under the stars (and in climate controlled space, as it was mighty chilly under the real stars that night.
Photo Credit: Ivy Dawned
Story Squad storytellers will be visiting the Estes Hill Elementary School first grade classes each week to share stories of enchantment and wonder in the beginning of what will become an ongoing collaboration to help grow children’s literacy levels through story.
Story Squad storytellers shared stories from around the world with seniors at Charles House on Friday, November 15th, 2013. From Native American “pourquoi” (why things are as they are) tales of the stars and moon, to a Gullah tale about turtle’s cracked shell, to India for a story about the origin of shoes, to Japan for a tale of a stone cutter’s discovery of his true power, and on to Russia for a tale of a snow child who blesses a childless couple, the stories shared the delights of global culture and understanding. One of the storytellers summed up the experience, “Telling stories at Charles House was a lot of fun. The audience members and staff were very kind, and they even provided brownies as payment.” Everyone had a great time.
Story Squad provided thrills and chills to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in Smith Middle School just before Halloween this year. Students came voluntarily during their recess break to hear scary stories, and many left saying things such as, “Wow, that was creepy,” and “I nearly jumped out of my skin.”
Ghost tales, urban legends, and horror stories from literary masters provided the fodder for a truly spooky time. Thanks to middle school librarian Natalie Harvey for inviting us out.
Story Squad conducted a storytelling workshop for area children’s librarians and gave a public storytelling performance as part of the annual Lawrence Public Library “Weave-a-Tale” Storytelling Workshop series.
They explored the power of story to entrance listeners, discussed ways to find good stories, how to prepare and learn them, and things to think about when presenting folk tales.
Club Boulevard Humanities Magnet Elementary School in Durham and Story Squad have joined together to offer school children a chance to hear stories throughout the year. This collaboration is planned to begin exploring the power of storytelling to help children build early literacy and listening skills and ease the transition to reading. “I’m really excited about this collaboration,” said Teresa James, principal of Club Boulevard, “Thank you for choosing us!” Story Squad will collaborate with Emily Husketh (School Media Librarian) and Taylor Wells (3rd grade teacher) to share its first set of stories on October 1st, 2013.
Story Squad shared world folktales and talked about stories and storytelling with the senior group called “the 39-ers” at the First Baptist Church of Raleigh (Salisbury Street) today. “This was a thrilling presentation,” wrote one participant. “It was an opportunity to completely forget everything and concentrate on ‘the story.’ The anticipation for what the next part of the story was kept me captured.” Another commented, “I felt the experience was delightful; you made me laugh at times, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Here’s a wonderful quote from Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
“The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.”
SO…..go out, tell stories, and help the world heal.