T.A. Barron, author of the Merlin Series, shares his thoughts about Chinaberry in this video. We thank him for his kind words. You can purchase T.A. Barron’s Merlin Series on our Shopping Site.
Posts Tagged ‘storytelling’
By Tina Elliott
Recently I was privileged to attend the Celebrate Literacy Award dinner put on by the Greater San Diego Reading Association. I tend to take books and reading for granted, having been instilled with a love of reading by my mother so many years ago and, thanks to her, never, ever being without a good book to read as a child. Now, as an adult, I am surrounded by more books than I could possibly ever get through. (I work in a book store for goodness sake.) What delight there is to be found between the pages of a book - joy, wonderment, giggles, or suspense; characters showing strength of spirit in attempting to overcome challenges and making hard decisions. Reading opens so many doors for us, often without us even realizing it. How easy it is for us to forget that there are many, young and old alike, who do not have the means to own a book of their own, or, even more sadly, who are not able to read.
The Greater San Diego Reading Association (GSDRA) is a professional organization affiliated with the California Reading Association (CRA) and the International Reading Association (IRA). GSDRA’s goals are to promote literacy, provide activities on literacy issues, and advance the pursuit of life-long reading. Every year, the GSDRA holds a celebration dinner to acknowledge businesses and individuals within our community who go “above and beyond” in the area of literacy. This year, Chinaberry was very proud to receive the Jerry Crews Award, created to recognize those in the business community who exemplify kindness and support for GSDRA and reading education. What an honor for Chinaberry to be acknowledged by such a committed group of individuals.
Equally as exciting to us was being linked to the devoted individuals who were also honored. Our own longtime Chinaberry customer and storyteller extraordinaire Marilyn McPhie received the Special Award of Recognition for her work with the Books for Babies program (www.marilynmcphie.com), and Katherine Salmon received the Judith Parson Award for Outstanding Student Teacher.
The Celebrate Literacy Award recognizes organizations, institutions, and individuals who have made significant literacy contributions at the local, state, or provincial level. This year’s Celebrate Literacy Honorees included St. Luke’s Refugee Network (http://sudaneserefugees.org/); United Through Reading Transitions (www.UnitedThroughReading.org); Edith Hope Fine and Judith Josephson, co-authors of Armando and the Blue Tarp School, nominated for the 2009-2010 California Young Reader Medal; teacher David Lynch, the true-life inspiration for Armando and the Blue Tarp School; and Irwin Herman, “The Bookman” (www.TheBookman.org). In addition to these fabulous individuals and organizations, many teachers and educators from school districts throughout the county were recipients of the 2009 Award of Excellence.
How inspiring to be surrounded by these dedicated individuals who have devoted their lives to others, giving their time and energy to promoting literacy and working toward the goal of giving every child and adult the ability to own and, more importantly, read a good book.
Don’t forget the magic in a came-from-your-own-heart, straight-out-of- your-imagination, in-your-own-words story. The “Mommy (or Daddy), tell me a story” kind of story. It’s a completely different experience from reading a book to your child and I heartily recommend it!
Some of our family’s closest times together revolved around that kind of thing. There was a stately old beat-up chair in toddler Elizabeth’s room that she named “The Story Chair,” for it was where she sat every single night while I told her the animal-filled, gentleness-infused original tale of Whoopie the Whale. (The story was really lame, but she absolutely insisted on it at both naptime and bedtime.) And then there was Evan, whose taste in stories I never quite got a handle on until I learned to routinely ask him to tell me three things he wanted his story to be about that night. (His answer was generally along the lines of “a boy, a policeman and a robot” or “a snake, a bomb and a boy.”) Within about ten minutes, I’d told him his made-to-order story, he’d drifted off and I was left in the quiet of the night to caress his back, run my hand through his hair and be full of wonder at the lessons he was teaching me, my heart welling over with love for this tired little boy.
At a recent conference, I had the privilege of spending some time with storyteller Jim Weiss and his delightful wife and partner, Randy. Chinaberry has been offering Jim’s storytapes for over eighteen years now. If anyone knows the value of storytelling, it’s Jim. He grew up listening to his father tell stories, and the memories of those magical moments never left him. For over 30 years, Jim has been captivating adults and children alike with his own magical storytelling ability. The following is my attempt at recreating our conversation:
Chinaberry: What do you feel are some of the main values of storytelling?
Jim: It’s a wonderful way to learn facts and hard data. Instead of just talking names and dates, tell them the story of Galileo and Beethoven. That gives them something to hang the data on. As they remember the story, they will remember the facts.
Stories are powerful. They carry the value of our culture and what we would like to see in our culture. It’s why someone once said, “Let me write the stories of a nation, and it’s more powerful than passing its laws.”
Telling a story is a great gift the teller gives to the listener. When I read, I am giving you one kind of gift, the sentiments of the author. But when I tell you a story, I am giving you me. It’s a beautiful way to build a bond between people. The walls, which we have all built, fall down. The armor we carry falls off. I have been in schools where 2-1/2-year-olds are wearing more armor than Sir Lancelot due to the horrifying experiences they have endured in their short lives. You can reach people like that through the vehicle of a story. You can reach people at their mental, emotional, and soul levels. Chinaberry readers will know what I mean by that.
Chinaberry: What are the key ingredients in the stories you choose?
Jim: For me, I choose to tell classics and stories from history for several reasons. 1) Some of the most fascinating characters are in these stories. That’s why they have lived for centuries. 2) They give us windows into other eras and other lands. It’s hard to make an enemy out of someone whose stories you know, because you understand that person too well to make them an object.
When Aesop told his stories over 2,000 years ago, he was a slave. The people who owned him thought he was just another object. Through his stories they learned who he was. They then set him free. He earned his freedom through his tales. I look for stories with meanings. I try not to hit anyone over the head with the moral of the stories, but there are always some ethical underpinnings to them. Of course, I look for entertainment value, but also for the meaning. Children are growing up in an age where we need to give them the best of the best.
Chinaberry: What stories are your personal favorites? (more…)