Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Wild is wonderful

Lanzarote frontWild is wonderful. Wild is the unknown, the unexpected, the uninhibited. Wild places, wild laughing, wild dancing: it’s when you can let yourself go, feel different and free and absolutely part of something else. That’s why Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are retains its appeal as a classic of children’s literature. Child or adult, it draws you in to a world where you can feel the freedom.

And that’s why Where the Wild Things Are has been in my planning for the workshop I will be running today for childcare workers in New Romney in Kent. The idea is to explore the basic importance of engaging children in stories and what it takes to bring about that involvement. Stories told and stories read will both be part of the work: in essence they call on similar techniques including, primarily, a will on the part of the teller or reader to impart the joy of the story.

So that’s why one things I’ll probably do is what I’ve sometimes done before in similar situations – namely read Where the Wild Things Are in Welsh. It’s unlikely anyone else present will understand Welsh. For most participants, the experience is bound to feel strange. Some may feel alienated or excluded – and that, of course, is how some children feel when they’re being read to, especially if no attempt is made to engage them or they don’t know much language yet. Others I hope will feel a bit more engaged when sounds or actions become part of the reading or a finger gently draws attention to aspects of the pictures.

Lanzarote back


Hearing a story: what’s involved

With luck, hearing a wonderful story in an unfamiliar language will illustrate for everyone present the vital importance of drawing the audience in to a story and giving the experience of enjoyment.

Besides, as I always like to point out, whether a story  is told or read, what is received is far more than the words. For one thing, it’s a journey of sound. The tones of the voice, the rhythm of the story: these are different from the words.  Hearing a story also involves an experience of time. What is offered is a journey and, for children especially, it’s a mental and social skill to get used to the sense of experiencing a journey from its beginning to its end. Come to think of it, it’s a good thing for adults too to be aware that, for good or ill, all experience has a term to it.

So who knows, unless I change my plans on the spot (and, for me, that always has to allowed for in workshop planning), I may be reading Lle Mae’r Pethau Gwyllt yn Byw even as you are reading this.


P.S. The pictures this week are photos taken by my lovely husband Paul when we were on holiday in Lanzarote earlier this year. They are of an extraordinary statue in the main square of Teguise of a dancer in an old traditional Lanzarotean wild dance. At first, I found it very alarming – which of course can be another aspect of the wild.


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2 Responses to “Storytelling Starters ~ Wild is wonderful”

  1. Felice Tombs Says:

    I would love to have you read me Where the wild things are in Welsh. Will have to come for a visit!

  2. Mary Medlicott Says:

    Felice, diolch yn fawr am dy neges (that’s Welsh for thanks for the message). Yes please, come for a visit. You know how much I’d love to see you and I’ll have Lle Mae’r Pethau Gwyllt Yn Byw ready. Much love, Mary.

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