Our collaboration with the UNC Hospital School to share stories once a month with children in the hospital is moving into its third year! What a marvelous way to help children imagine new horizons by telling world folktales in this school, and when the children cannot make it to the schoolroom, we bring the stories to their bedside. Sometimes we cannot compete with their tablets or television programs, but often the children take a break from those forms of entertainment to be enchanted by a told story. And sometimes our competition is not as steep. We had one young fellow recently who responded to the offer of hearing a story with a HUGE smile and real gusto. “I really like your stories,” he explained, “but I’m in the middle of math homework, and I’d LOVE a break from that!” Needless to say, he was an attentive listener for both reasons. A joy shared is a joy doubled!
Story Squad was asked to launch the West Regional Library (Cary) Story Writing Contest for 2nd-6th graders. Dr. Brian led the 25 children and their parents in a conversation about what makes a good story, where do you find inspiration for stories, and what writing techniques can be learned from storytelling, and then he performed an Aesop fable showcasing how you can take a minimal, four-sentence fable and “flesh it out” into a fully formed performance. We can’t wait to see the stories these creative, dynamic, and engaged young people come up with!
Story Squad was invited back to the Northside Elementary School Read-a-thon for third annual visit. Director, Brian Sturm shared folktales from several countries, including an Anansi story from Africa (though not the ones from the books he’s holding in the photo). We piled in the entire second grade. After the stories, the children got to ask questions, and Ms. Cole, the school librarian and Read-a-thon coordinator set the boundary that they could NOT ask the storyteller’s age. So the questions started coming in: “What’s your favorite story?” “What’s your favorite planet?” (the image behind Dr. Sturm shows their current unit) “What’s your favorite book character?” and then a really hard one, “What’s your favorite quote?” As the questions wound down, one child wanted to ask a final question…and, of course, it was “How old are you?” Children are such treasures! It’s wonderful to see them push boundaries (especially when it’s gently).
Story Squad gave a presentation/workshop for seniors interested in joining the Treeo Senior Living community in Raleigh. We shared folktales and personal stories and discussed Dr. Sturm’s theoretical model of the storylistening experience and the trance-like state it can induce. It was amazing how these strangers built community in the short hour-and-a-half they were together, sharing personal tales about themselves as though they were old friends. That’s one of the powers of storytelling!
Story Squad storytellers had a wonderful time telling tales from around the world to a packed house (150+ people) in the Pleasants Room of Wilson Library on the UNC campus this evening. We decided to bring back some of the favorite folktales of American childhood, including Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Gingerbread Man, and The Three Billy Goats Gruff. We also shared Anansi Gets Stories (from African folklore), Rabbit’s Snow Dance (from Native American folklore), and an adaptation of the picture book Muncha, Muncha, Muncha by Candace Fleming.
We had lots of children, lots of candy, lots of hot chocolate, and LOTS of fun! Thank you to the Friends of the UNC Libraries for making this delightful family event happen year after year (26 years to be exact). One woman came up afterwards and said, “This is the fourth year I’ve brought my children, and we love it,” while another said, “I keep coming to this event even though my children have grown up and left the house; it’s such a wonderful community gathering.”
We visited Estes Hills Elementary School today to share stories in celebration of their annual bookfair and the reading that the children are doing. While we didn’t read from books (that’s reading aloud, not storytelling), we made sure to tell the children that our tales can be found in books, particularly in the library under Dewey Decimal number 398.2. We’ll see if they remember that when they visit their school or public library.
We told one set of stories to the K-2 grades and another set to the 3-5-graders in the gym.
Once again Story Squad will share tales under the starry skies of the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. Tickets are on sale now and going quickly. The flyer included in this post will give you details on the event, and you can purchase tickets here. We hope to see you there!
Story Squad provided a workshop for the NCLA Leadership Institute to help participants understand how storytelling can help them as library leaders to showcase their own leadership strengths, and to market and brand their libraries. We discussed various kinds of stories leaders should be able to tell (based on the seminal work of Annette Simmons, and her book The Story Factor. Brian also shared folktales and personal stories as examples of each type of story. The group then explored several marketing stories online and then developed their own unique story to showcase the library values or services they wished to target.
Brian Sturm gave the closing keynote address at the national meeting of the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services, drawing wisdom from a variety of folktales from around the world to shed light on outreach services and their impact on communities. He shared the tale of Nasruddin Hodja who forgets to count the donkey he is riding when tallying his herd, a reminder to value yourself and what you offer; he shared the tale of The Stonecutter with the moral that you are strongest when you are yourself, not trying to be something else; and he told the tale of the Best Cookies in the World which foregrounds how easily we make assumptions of other people’s behavior, often to our embarrassment and regret.
Story Squad members Areej Hussein, Amy Sayle, and Brian Sturm joined Sarah Beth Nelson and her young daughter in an evening of folktales and personal stories at the Bynum Front Porch. This event occurs the second Saturday of every month with a rotating band of storytellers. It’s a delightful venue, open to the public, and since Amy shared a star story, many folks went out afterwards onto the Bynum Bridge for an impromptu star-gazing.