Last week I read the folktale Jamie O'Rourke and The Big Potato by Tomie dePaola to my students. When I read this book to them, I talk about what folktales are and how people used to entertain each other with stories. It amazes me that the kids eyes get real big when I tell them that people used to tell stories with out a book to look at and that people did this because there was no TV or video games or computers. The questions the kids ask me got me thinking that storytelling is truly becoming a lost art. Do grandparents sit kids on their knees and tell them stories about their families and their lives anymore? In this age of high stakes testing, teachers are under SO much pressure to get through SO much information with their students, so do teachers even tell stories to their students anymore(not read stories from a book, but TELL stories)?
Two weeks ago we held literacy night at our school and the highlight was a man named Clayborn Knight. He is an assistant Principal at a school in our district, and he is also a FABULOUS storyteller and writing teacher . He did a program for teachers and then did a storytelling program for the students. I saw kids who normally don't sit still for anything, just gazing up at him as he told his story (a folktale about a king and his donkey ears). There was even a mom in the audience who could not stop laughing as she listened to him. I think the kids in attendance will agree, this was better than watching Sponge Bob!
I am of Irish descent and we are know as great story tellers and I feel that as part of my mission in the media center I need to try and bring back the lost art of storytelling. Now, I am not as talented as Mr. Knight and usually I need a "script" aka - a book to read from, but I want to try and inject the art of storytelling in what I do by telling little anecdotes to the kids and bringing in authors and professional storytellers to perform for the students.
There is the National Storytelling Festival in TN in October, and I would love to go and see first hand how people are trying to keep this lost art alive.