Every once in a while life gives you some wonderful hints that you are doing something right. Though, I'll admit, the start of one program made me wonder how things were going to go.
Friday saw me at the site for one of Compass's after-school programs
(http://www.service2families.com/after-school-program). Compass is a great program that Springfield District 186 has for children in challenging situations, and I've been delighted to be able to work with them.
On Friday I was doing a program for 2nd graders, and it had been set up for there to be eight children attending; plus volunteers. Slightly warmer weather and it being Friday had combined to get the youngsters pretty charged up, and so the idea of sitting for stories just didn't sound fun. Matter-of-fact, one little girl expressed it quite clearly, "STORY TIME! That's for babies - she's going to read to us!!!!!"
I smiled and asked if she saw any books around, and was informed that I was hiding it in my coat.
It was obvious that I wasn't going to win this group over with stories like, "The King's Rice Pudding," or any of my other tales for 2nd graders. So I plunged into "Tam Lin."
Afterwards the young doubter looked at her classmates, and informed them, "Quiet! I want to hear more stories!!!!"
Once it was obvious I wasn't going to sneak out any books we were good.
Yesterday I was at the Springfield Art Association's Family Day (http://www.springfieldart.org/). This is a fun day of art projects for the family. So I had worked on such stories as "The Man Who Loved Dragons," "The Magic Brocade," and "Anait."
I was set up in the main room/library, with chairs circled around, and a nice large sign. About every half hour they would announce storytelling, and those who'd finished projects would take a break and come hear some stories.
One family who had brought their two little girls was a family from China; a group that included not only parents and children, but grandparents. The family split up so that some adults could help each child, and the father, plus grandmother remained in the library.
After a few sets of stories the father explained that while he is still struggling with English, and that they had only come to Illinois in July of last year, that by watching my hands, and by listening carefully, he was really getting the idea of the stories. And was really enjoying them.
Compliments are always nice, but to know that you are able to cross a language barrier, even marginally, is a wonderful feeling. Later the whole family came into hear some of the stories.
And then there were two youngsters, about 4 years of age each, and from different families that kept coming back and asking for stories. Didn't matter what I was telling they sat and eagerly listened. The only disappointment for the little boy was that I didn't know, "Jack and the Snow Man." I guess that is a popular story as someone else piped up, "I know that book!"
Definitely a grand three hours!
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I am a Springfield, IL based storyteller with a fascination for how folklore travels, and for history.