Teaching Storytelling to Children

Storytellers’ Club Transformed by Eve Burton

For the past 9 years Montgomery County Public Libraries has sponsored the Storytellers’ Club for school-aged children at Twinbrook Community Library. Due to budget cuts, the library will no longer be sponsoring this group. But the Dogwood Dogs 4H Community Club has agreed to take on a storytelling project. If you have (or are) a school-aged child, age 8-18, who enjoys storytelling, we invite you to join the Dogwood Dogs. We meet the first Sunday each month, Sept. –May, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. in my home in Gaithersburg, MD. Most meetings are planned to include an arts & crafts project, a snack, and an hour of storytelling. Our club also does a variety of community service activities. Three Sunday evenings are planned to be potluck suppers for the whole family, friends invited, with storytelling: Sept. 5, Jan. 2, and May 1. For more information about the Dogwood Dogs’ Storytellers’ Club, contact Eve Burton 240-543-0444 or ebnineteen@hotmail.com

Please be sure to put Storytellers’ Club in the subject heading to prevent the email from accidentally being deleted.

Eve Burton’s Notes From Nine Years of Storytellers’ Club: For nine years I’ve led the Storytellers’ Club at Twinbrook

Community Library. For almost that long I have also led the Twinbrook Tellers, a group of children who tell stories at area libraries and festivals. I thought that, as these programs come to a close at the public library, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve found to be important when doing storytelling with children.!

Storytelling with children is important. ! We live in a multicultural society. Oral storytelling with children allows us to share the rich variations of diverse cultural traditions while celebrating the common threads in our lives. Parents, teachers and caregivers all benefit from the ability to share stories with children. When children hear stories, they are introduced to history and values in a meaningful context. When they tell stories themselves, they internalize concepts they have only previously heard or read. This is the way to forge a new, shared cultural heritage among diverse peoples.!

Anyone can tell a story. ! Some folks have more polish, of course. There are surely better and worse ways to tell any given story, but there is no one right way to do it. One of the most exciting things about storytelling is how much it allows the storyteller to be him/herself: in the choosing of tales and the telling of them.  The more you do it, the better you get: at knowing yourself, knowing what stories you like, and knowing how best to share them with others. This is true for any storyteller, be s/he parent, teacher, caregiver or child.!

Keep storytelling with children a pleasurable, shared experience, never an opportunity for failure. Never make storytelling something that is required, evaluated, graded, or, consequently, feared. When I heard from an elementary school teacher one year that she was doing a unit on storytelling with her class, my first response was excitement.  When I heard that her students were required to tell a story and would be graded on it, I cringed. ! At Storytellers’ Club we always say anyone who wants to tell a story gets a chance; no one ever has to. Some children are comfortable telling a story on their first visit. Others may take months. Some never tell a story, and that’s okay. We need listeners as much as we need tellers.!

Every story a child tells is worth hearing. So we all listen. Carefully. And we applaud everyone’s efforts.