Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ What’s new?

The Three Bears is so familiar to me as a children’s story that I felt quite delighted when I was recently asked to do a staff training workshop at a London nursery called Les Trois Oursons. It made me think about children’s stories as they are told in languages other than English.

On Thursday when I went to do the training, I found myself surrounded by a wide diversity of Nursery staff including French, Ghanaian and Chinese. We had a grand time (and, for me, it felt like getting back to normal, this being the first such workshop I’d done for a while following  my period of ill-health).  First, I got us doing a number of simple rhymes and chants together, foremost among them Little Bear on the Long Road and Mrs Wiggle and Mrs Waggle. Then I told the folk story of The Tiger and the Mouse and got the workshopees (new word?) retelling it to each other in whatever language they liked.

After that, one of the things  I appreciated most was the comments that were made about storytelling as the people in the workshop had experienced it (or not) when they were children. For one Chinese woman, there’d been no storytelling at all and no story books either. But for several who’d grown up in West Africa, there’d been the regular experience of gathering in the open air and at night to listen to stories being told, usually with great drama.

Sitting in pairs or small groups to share their memories of that childhood listening, I could see that some people felt quite poignant. Themselves, they’d clearly loved the experience. On Thursday, they expressed their sadness that for children now it barely exists.Too much concentration on screens! Too much TV!

I came away feeling that storytellers like me must be part of a dying tradition. Storytelling? What’s that? I remembered the occasion when, at home, I told a story to a child I knew but didn’t often see.  He was obviously baffled. ‘What’s this?’ he enquired looking quite discommoded. ‘Is it a tape or something?’

All hands to the ropes! That must be the call today. Storytelling surely can’t be allowed to die out. Thursday’s  workshop was an example of the fun and the worth of it for adults as well as children. And hopefully all the nursery staff who were present will now feel confident and aware of why to make it a frequent part of what they do in their places of work, let alone with any children in their personal lives.

PS: Odd, isn’t it? Go,Went, Gone, the title of the book I wrote about in this blog last week could so easily become the title of a book about storytelling. As for Time for Telling, the book pictured at the top of this blog, it’s a book I did quite a lot of years ago. I’m not even aware if it’s still available. But I do think the title is apt for today.


One Response to “Storytelling Starters ~ What’s new?”

  1. Pippa Says:

    Thank you Mary for a truly wonderful workshop! On Friday we started with our stories with the children much to their delight and today I’ve found two new friends and a wonderful book of rhymes to use in the classroom on Monday! Feeling truly inspired!

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