How did you get started in storytelling?
Two things happened at about the same time: I attended a church workshop where Canadian storyteller Helen Carmichael Porter introduced storytelling as an art form and gave us an opportunity to “try our hands”. I liked that! The same year, through the Girl Guides of Canada, I attended a Nature Interpretive workshop where the 1st event was listening to a long telling of “Stickeen“, the story of naturalist John Muir on the Stickeen glacier in Alaska. With four little boys at home I felt I had to take the story home in my head and share it with them. I did and that let me see that I could tell a story. So when I visited the school where I had been reading, I just told a story and didn’t bother opening a book.
What (or who) inspires the stories you create and tell?
WHO – Other storytellers. People in the Ottawa, Toronto and Canadian storytelling community. When I attend events put on by these groups, I hear and meet Tellers from other places. Recently, Tellers from Norway and England visited Toronto and they thrilled me. Local and far away Tellers remind me of the stories there are to discover and of the ways to tell them.
WHAT – The stories themselves. When I hear or read a “good“ story, one that captures my imagination, I want to put the words in my mouth and share them with others.
What was your favorite story as a child? Why?
Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. The story was exotic, about a far away and lovely place full of smells and sounds that would be different from my Canadian city house. The servant girl was so clever and brave with her plan to deal with the thieves. A role model I continue to try and follow.
How can teachers use storytelling in the classroom?
Storytelling can be used to introduce or to summarize/close a unit. For history or geography/social studies, try a story from the place or time you are looking at. For science or math, a bit about the life of someone working on that topic or perhaps a puzzle story the students get to think about. For an art lesson, a story about an artist or about trees, snow, animals whatever it is the students are to create. As they hear a story pictures can form in their imaginations.
For literature studies: after hearing a story the class could pass talking stick around and each student could remember bit of the story. So as a class you would retell the story. This helps with public speaking. As well a story could told for the joy of just listening to a story. There is eye contact between teller and Listener and that builds community. The listener gets to hear beautiful, evocative words and hear how a plot unfolds. Later because the student has heard well plotted tales this can help the student create their own story.
What are you looking forward to most during TD Canadian Children’s Book?
Meeting people and listening to their stories as they talk about their community and their lives. AND of course having an opportunity to tell some of my favorite stories.