While the benefits of storytelling were mostly validated by anecdotal evidence back then, Librarian-Storyteller Linda Martin notes in Spotlight -- where she also discusses teaching kids to tell in schools -- that Kendall Haven’s recent assessment of research studies has provided scientific evidence about “the power of story.” So do Ellin Greene and Janice M. Del Negro, whose contemporary classic Storytelling: Art and Technique is given a nod in Professional Resources. Lower School Librarian Allison Williams not only discusses comparing picture book folktales with students in Best Practices, like Martin, she gives tips for helping children to retell folktales, the latter being the genre on the winner’s podium in Awards. Because watching experienced storytellers is one of the best ways to learn to tell, check out the summer performance event noted in Professional Opportunities.
Speaking of professional opportunities, if you would like to learn more about NoveList K-8 Plus, please think about attending an overview webinar as advised in NoveList Strategies. While Silver Screen puts out a reminder about the next Wimpy Kid movie coming in March, In the News introduces the “School Library Vision Tour.”
JC: How did you become a storyteller?
LM: I come from a family of storytellers -- my father always had an anecdote to share when I was growing up. After I became a librarian at the Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library System, I decided to join the Southern Order of Storytelling in order to hone my craft. While I was at the public library in Atlanta, I began a storytelling festival that was offered as a field trip to schools. Within 15 minutes of opening registration for the first event -- it was held in an auditorium that held 300 people -- the festival was full. In response, we added a second session that also featured tales from around the world. During the ten years that I was at the public library, the festival grew to three days with over 1200 annual participants.
JC: Do you have any favorite stories that you like to tell?
LM: I really like to tell Halloween and ghost stories because they appeal to both children and adults and can be easily adapted for any audience. I have a program called “It was a Dark and Stormy Night” that can range from “jump” tales to Edgar Allen Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart.”
I’ve also recently branched out into telling personal stories. In fact, I’m going to visit my uncle in Wichita this weekend to collect family stories and digitize old photographs. My mother and her siblings like my uncle grew up on a farm, with no electricity, no running water, and no indoor plumbing. My grandfather moved from building roads for the WPA to being a foreman for a line of “Rosie the Riveters” in a WWII aircraft plant. I am a first generation student. To understand who we are, we have to understand where we come from. I feel like we need to talk to our families, especially the elders, and learn our stories.
JC: Why is it important to tell stories to children?
LM: There’s a wonderful book called Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story (Libraries Unlimited, 2007). The author Kendall Haven analyzed research studies from multiple disciplines that show how storytelling and narrative positively impact the brain and learning. Because of all the time that children spend in front of television and computer screens, I think they’re losing their ability to imagine, a vital component needed to share stories and personal anecdotes. Stories enable children to develop schema and support comprehension and critical thinking.
To read the rest of the interview with Linda Martin, click here.NOVELIST CONNECTION: To locate two recently compiled lists of fiction and nonfiction books (some collections, other single stories), that lend themselves to telling by young people, enter “storytelling” in NoveList K-8 Plus; then click on Search. Next, click on the Lists and Articles tab.
JC: Do you have a favorite folktale lesson that you present in the library?
AW: One of my favorites is a critical thinking lesson I do with second graders where they compare and contrast two different picture book versions of the African-American folktale, Tailypo. They are Tailypo: A Newfangled Tall Tale by Angela Shelf Medearis and Tailypo: A Ghost Story by Joanna Galdone. The kernel of the story is the same in both: a monster enters a cabin where it loses its tail and then returns to extract revenge.
JC: Which story do you present first?
AW: While both versions are great for telling and reading aloud, I begin with Tailypo: A Newfangled Tall Tale. The students really love the protagonist Kenny Ray and the loyalty between him and his dog. I think it’s very empowering for kids that the dreadful monster never overwhelms this little boy and that he is able to tell his parents what happened when they get back from work. In contrast to Tailypo: A Ghost Story where the old man is scratched to death, this “newfangled tall tale” helps kids feel in control.
JC: How do the students actually compare the stories?
AW: Using a Venn Digram and talking about the two versions in terms of literary qualities as well as the illustrations, we go through Tailypo: A Newfangled Tall Tale and then compare it with Tailypo: A Ghost Story. While Joanna Galdone takes a barebones approach to the tale, Angela Shelf Medearis has a richer writing style with dialogue and more details. We often start our discussion with the settings -- the backwoods of Tennessee versus Texas Hill Country -- or the characters -- a man and his dogs versus an entire family. The children like to talk about how smart they think Kenny Ray is for selling the creature’s tail so he can buy food that will feed his family for months instead of eating the tail for dinner like the old man. They also discuss how the choice of a Chihuahua for Kenny Ray’s watchdog helps make that version less scary. And, of course, we talk about what we think the monster really wants!
To read the rest of the interview with Allison Williams, click here.
NOVELIST CONNECTION: Novelist K-8 Plus has an up-to-date, ready-to-go, annotated book list for younger kids with short stories in which animals do most, if not all, of the talking, and that end in a moral. In the search bar, enter “Fables;” then click on Search. Next, click on the Lists and Articles tab to find it. Scroll a little further down the list for a Picture Book Extender for Jerry Pinkney's Caldecott winner, The Lion and the Mouse.
By Jeff Kinney
Amulet Books (2008)
After the success of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie caught Hollywood by surprise, the film version of the second book was put on speed dial (there’s that nagging problem of the child actors growing up). Like the film based on the first book about middle school student Greg Hefley, Wimpy Kid 2 is on target to chronicle the highs and lows of early adolescence with humor and insight, this time focusing on the relationship between Greg and big brother Rodrick. Having sold 42 million copies, the hybrid series that combines narrative and cartoon-style drawings in a journal format has ever widening appeal. If your first Wimpy Kid book party was a hit, then consider a follow-up! And if your young patrons have read all the books, use the recent NoveList K-8 bibliography “If You Like . . . Diary of a Wimpy Kid” to suggest read-alikes such as The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Dork Diaries.
By Ellin Greene and Janice Del Negro
Libraries Unlimited; 4th Edition (2010)
Back in the early eighties when I was studying storytelling with Ellin Greene at the University of Chicago, the first edition of Storytelling: Art and Technique was a small paperback. Co-written with storytelling legend Augusta Baker, it covered with clarity and flair the history of storytelling, its purposes and value, telling in libraries, selection and presentation, and programming and administration. Best of all, this little gem had lists of proven yarns to share with children organized by age range. All of this information has been greatly revised and expanded in this fourth edition co-authored by library school professor and storyteller, Janice Del Negro; despite being voluminous, it remains accessible thanks to solid design and organization. There are now chapters on international storytelling, storytelling to teenagers, storytelling to very young children, and storytelling to children with special needs. This successful update of a contemporary classic for both the novice and the pro concludes with a final section of storytelling resources that is better than ever.
Scheduled Event Date: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 – 2:00 PM EDT – 60 minutes
Even though it’s still cold outside, summer is just around the corner. And we all know what that means -- summer reading programs! These programs are a great way to help you connect with the youth in your community. But what happens when the lazy days of summer fade away? Tune in to the second Libraries are Essential web series: Connecting to Youth in Your Community to get some great tips for using youth programs throughout the year to continually promote the essential value of the library.
Silver Screen Overview
Harking back to last month’s overview of upcoming screen adaptations of children’s books, Mr. Popper (of Penguin fame) as played by Jim Carrey will be a successful businessman instead of the housepainter in the book. Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn is indeed on tap for a December 2011 release, alongside the mega-director’s cinematic version of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse.