Thursday, December 22, 2011

Telling Stories to Children

One thing parents have asked me about in telling stories to their children is the interrupting.  It can be disconcerting when you are in the flow of a story and you hear a little voice going off on a tangent.  When my 8 year old interrupts, I incorporate whatever she says and then take it from there.  It might completely change the story I was telling, but the nature of storytelling is the interaction between storyteller and listener/s and by accepting her changes, the story becomes more meaningful for her.  I can see from her face and her reactions how much more she gets into the story when I incorporate her changes.  

However, when my 4 year old interrupts, I am not always sure what she is saying.  So I cling onto any subject and verb I hear from her and try to incorporate that into the story.  Sometimes I get it right, and sometimes not so much.   So I try again.  At some point I do say, “Ok, lets go on with the story” and she usually accepts that and we continue.

Sometimes they want a joint story, but my 8 year old gets frustrated with my 4 year olds interruptions, so I try to stick to telling them separate stories.  I tell parents when your children are so far apart in age as mine are, they might have to tell separate stories just because of the gap in their intellectual and emotional development.     

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hanukkah Dora

Often I will use well known characters in the stories I tell them.  Dora and Boots are very popular and usually in my stories, my children will go on an adventure with Dora and Boots.  Because it's almost Hanukkah, I made up a story for my 4 year old, "Hanukkah Dora".  Dora and Boots had to get home before sunset to light the menorah.  When they got home, everyone got one present and I went through all the characters.  Then she asked me about Map and Backpack.  So I said Map got some colored construction paper because he liked to make maps.  My 4 year old correctly pointed out to me that Map does not have hands.  So I told her Map puts the pencil in his mouth and draws maps that way.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Geri Keams - Storytelling to Children

GERI KEAMS is a Navajo (Dineh) Indian Storyteller, Actress, and Author born and raised in the Painted Desert of Arizona. Her Mother’s Clan is the Streak-of-Black-Forest (Tsi’nijinnie), She is born for the Manygoats Clan (Tl’iizi’ – Ll’annii).
Geri grew up without television, living on the reservation with her nine brothers and sisters. She attended boarding schools on and near the reservation in northern Arizona. Her grandmother, a rugweaver and storyteller, inspired Geri to remember the stories and culture of her people.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Bedtime Stories"

Today, when I picked up my 8 year old from school the first words out of her mouth were about the special program they had that day in school called, "What if I'm Home Alone?"  I could tell she was anxious about it, so I of course said, "We never leave you alone at home."  "But what if there is an emergency?" "We would make other arrangements like we did when your sisters were born.  We would never leave  you at home alone."  Throughout the evening she kept alluding to this program.  At bedtime, unbeknownst to me, she had taken the pamphlet from the program upstairs to her room and was reading it in bed.  When it was time for me to tell her a story, she started with, "What if I am alone and there is a fire?"  I repeated emphatically that we would never leave her alone, etc.  She didn't know what she wanted her story about, but she wanted to be in it.   

I knew I wanted to be reassuring to her, to give her a feeling of security and to take her mind off these anxious thoughts she was having.  So I made up a story about us walking in the woods.  I made it up as I went along.  I told her it was one of the most beautiful places she had ever seen.  I set the scene, the sound of the leaves in the trees, the sun her back, etc.  I told her we were walking hands and I told her I loved her.  Then I said we came to a lake.  I said it was Lake Tahoe.  Then I had us walk out on the dock, all the time describing the beautiful scene and reassuring her that she is loved.  We had a picnic of the most delicious food ever, and then went rowing out on the lake.  I described the other people out in the lake having a good time.  Then she added that we were fishing, but we didn't use hooks so the fish weren't hurt at all and we returned the fish to the sea.  I know she really wants special time without her sisters, so I said I have a surprise for you.  I booked a hotel for the weekend and we were going to spend the whole weekend together, just her and me.  Then I described it was evening and we went to our room and in our room was the largest bathtub she's ever seen and we took a bath and got into bed and we fell asleep with me holding her.  

She definitely felt better when we were done with the story and was in a very different mindset.  Do I think I vanquished all her anxiety?  No, not at all.  But I hope I can plant some pleasant pictures in her mind that she can eventually learn to comfort herself when she starts to have anxious feelings.    

Monday, December 5, 2011

Storytelling Events Dec 6th - 10th

December 6, 2011
Heart-to-Heart Storytellers
State: Tennessee

Date(s) of Event    
September 6, Oct 4, Nov 1, Dec 6,

Title of Event    
Heart-to-Heart Storytellers

Please limit to 250 words. We reserve the right to edit for space.
Heart to Heart Storytellers The club mission is to maintain an uplifting environment supportive of members, tellers and listeners, who desire to experience and/or learn the art and craft of storytelling. Discussions on how to write and tell stories are based on published workers of professional tellers, articles from NSN Storytelling magazines and workshops attended. Members tell stories from a multitude of sources. Members are encouraged to further develop their skills though coaching, which is optional. Sometimes a teller just wishes to get the story "out" without coaching.

1 pm - 2:30 pm   
FREE for guests. Membership $10.00 per year.   
Hendersonville First United Methodist Church 217 East Main Street
Hendersonville, TN 37075 
December 7, 2011
Speak Up Spoken Word Open Mike Hosted by Storyteller Tony Toledo
State: Massachusetts
Speak Up Spoken Word Open Mike is held every Wednesday at The Walnut Street Coffee Cafe, 157 Walnut Street, Lynn MA. It is hosted by storyteller Tony Toledo who gives every speaker a story and a lucky coin at the end of their words. We start at 7:30 pm till 10ish. Each person who wants to speak gets 5 minutes at the microphone. Tony stands up when all the sand in the five minute hour glass is done. At five and a half minutes he is walking toward the speaker. At 6 minutes he will slide his tongue in your ear. We are a free speech zone with a three word cussing minimum. Storytellers, poets, comedians,singers, community activists and just plain ranters are all welcome. Each week has a Featured Performer who goes on at 8:30 PM for half an hour. The hat is passed to get gas money so the feature can get home. See you at Speak Up.
Time(s) 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm
Admission Free, pass the hat for the feature.
Location - The Walnut Street Coffee Cafe, 157 Walnut Street, Lynn, MA 01905
Contact Phone 978-921-4628
Contact Email
Event Website
December 8, 2011
The Storytellers Cafe' Story Slam
State: Kentucky
A family vacation, a trip with dad to the hardware store, bathing the family dog – all stories. A canoe trip with friends, a battle with cancer, an afternoon cleaning out the garage – all stories. A wedding day, a funeral, a birthday party – all stories. We all love to share our stories and love hearing others.

Storytelling is an art. An art that needs to be shared. Stories are how we connect to one another, how we communicate. Weather you’re telling your story or listening to others’ it’s all about communicating and connecting. Join the fun every 2nd Thursday at Common Grounds Coffee House for the Storytellers CafĂ©. You’ll be inspired, I guarantee it.

For Storytellers Cafe' club information, visit

7:00 to 9:00 pm
Admission  Free 
Common Grounds Coffee House
343 E. High St.
Lexington, KY 40507   
December 9, 2011
State: Maine
MOOSE (Maine Organization Of Storytelling Enthusiasts) presents:
Tellabration 2011!
Hosted by Michael Parent
Tellers: Audry Mason, Meg Gillman, Jo Radner, Jean Armstrong, Pat Gardiner, Sarah Halford, Roland Watier, Katy Rydell
Admission $10
Portland Public Library, Rines Auditorium
Monument Square, Portland, Maine 04101 
207-871-9439 Debb Freedman Debb Freedman
Monthly Ventura County, CA Storytelling Guild meeting
State: California
Ventura County Storytelling Guild meeting
The Ventura County Storytelling Guild mees on the 2nd Friday of the month from 6:30-8:45 p.m. at Proverbs Coffeehouse on the grounds of Peace Lutheran Church, 71 Loma Road, Camarillo. Occasionally there may be a conflict with the facility, so please write Elaine Muray at to reconfirm. All listeners and tellers welcome. Tellers should bring a 10-minute story to share if desired. $3-5 building use donation suggested.
6:30-9:00 p.m.
Donation of $3-$5.
71 Loma Road, Camarillo, CA 93003
Urban Tellers: It's All Relative
State: Oregon
What binds us as a family? The laughs? The arguments? The secrets? Find out on Friday, December 9th, when Portland Story Theater presents stories about family. Featuring:
Enrique E. Andrade, voice talent
Melanie Harmon, improv artist
Lori King, storyteller
Russell Young, photographer
Gina Lutes, dragon boat racer
Beth Weissman, artist
And special guest, Bill Hillman, an award winning essayist from Chicago and staff writer for the Criminal Class Press

Doors 7:00PM - Show 8:00PM
Admission $10 Advance - $15 Door
Advance Tickets online at Brown Paper Tickets

Hipbone Studio - 1847 EAST Burnside, Portland, OR 97212
"Hearing the Call: Claiming Your Story", a weekend workshop retreat on story, myth and journey
State: North Carolina
Everyone has a story to tell. Heeding the call of story launches us on a hero’s journey that is filled with wonders, guides and undiscovered gems, as well as tests, challenges and demons. Embracing the unfamiliar path can be daunting – and rewarding. And if you are at a crossroads, this might be the moment to be daring. In the claiming, creating, and living of our story, we can find courage to embark on a deeper, more authentic life.
This workshop retreat offers the opportunity to explore those stuck places in your life through myth, music and metaphor. By using story, music, art, poetry and guided imagery, you will have the opportunity to examine who you are and where you are going, and to embrace the story of your hero’s journey that lies within.
7:00 pm Friday evening though Saturday at 5:00 pm
Admission  $195 ($160 if paid in full by November 21, 2011)
December 9 - 10
December 10, 2011
Second Saturday Storytelling
State: Ohio
Enjoy traditional storytelling in the natural surroundings of Cleveland Metroparks on the second Saturday of most months. A venue for the best tellers from the Cleveland, Ohio area and beyond for over twelve years! Recently added: a story swap segment. After a featured teller/program and refreshments, share in a story swap with your own family-friendly stories. Ages: Adults and older students.
Time(s) 7:30 p.m.
Admission Free
Location -
CanalWay Visitor Center
E 49th St. Entrance
Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation
Cuyahoga Hts, OH
Contact Phone 440-734-6660
Contact Email
Event Website

Friday, December 2, 2011

Telling A Story

A lot of my recent stories, my daughters will give me the main characters and then I will make up the story on the fly.  Often they will be main characters in the stories and many times our whole family goes on an adventure together.  One of the more popular ones is that our family takes a trip to the moon.  We fly around the universe and then land on the moon and have a picnic.  We then return to earth.  My older daughter usually wants us to land on the soccer field of her school so in the story she can then tell her classmates and teachers about our adventure and give them rocks we brought back from the moon.