This summer we read books to our granddaughter. As soon as we would finish, baby Georgia would push the book back toward us. The message was clear: “Again.” And so we would read it again. And again. And again.
This weekend I attended the National Storytelling Festival with friends. I’ve done this for close to twenty years. We hurried towards the tents in the crisp light of a mountain morning. We had come to listen. Again.
Storytellers stood up to tell traditional stories or personal stories or epic tales that have been told through the centuries. Listeners laughed and nodded as they recognized themselves in the least likely characters. When the tale was told, people wiped tears from their eyes, jumped to their feet, and cheered for stories known forever. People nudged requests toward tellers the a way a baby girl pushes a book back toward a grandmother. Again. We want the story again.
This is no idle pastime for me; I am a storyteller. My listeners do not wait for me in a white tent under a bright blue sky. They wait for me in a classroom. This morning they will wait to hear a story. Again.
They hear myths and folktales and fables. Every year I tell Shakespeare and Homer and Aesop. We tie folktales into the teaching of geography and history and science. Biographies introduce third graders to the leaders who have led the way for new leaders (and I remind them that some of those new leaders may only be eight or nine now). The narrative sweep of story deepens the majesty of the moment. I know that I am lining hearts with gold and deepening the well of image, allusion, and metaphor that will serve my students for a lifetime.
The most important thing I do on the first day of school is tell a story. Story builds community. The stories we tell become “our stories.” We reference them easily and characters become eccentric ancillary members of our tribe. We begin our year with a folktale. There is gold. There is grace. There is transformation. We are reminded there are stories worth telling. And living. Again and again and again.
I thought this was going to be my favorite line, “The narrative sweep of story deepens the majesty of the moment,” until I read this, “There is gold. There is grace. There is transformation. We are reminded there are stories worth telling. And living. Again and again and again.”
Someday, someday, someday I look forward to hearing one of your stories in person.
Congrats on 100 posts,
Congratulations on this milestone! I too, love the line quoted above. “Again and again and again” is such a great opening out of the classic opening line, “Once upon a time…”
I can’t wait ’til Isabelle can tell me again.
This past weekend I read her a book with her cousins sitting by my side. The four year-old asked me to read it again — three times. What fun that was!
BTW: Congrats on your 100th post!
I must have read The Tawny Scrawny Lion 100 times to my own children. Unfortunately it is not my favorite story. But they liked it, and I tried to tell it as if it was the first time each time. I am looking forward to reading to my grandson…but this time I will make sure I only read books to him that I don’t mind rereading bunches of dozens of times!
Congratulations on hitting 100!
I never tire of hearing teachers connect all parts of their lives to their teaching. I believe it is who we are-always teachers. Your post is so full of love for these things we call stories. I liked “This is no idle pastime for me; I am a storyteller. My listeners do not wait for me in a white tent under a bright blue sky. They wait for me in a classroom. This morning they will wait to hear a story. Again.” very much. This is where the post turned for me, the connection that I imagined was coming. It was exciting. Thank you!
I forgot to tell you – Congratulations on 100 posts! Great accomplishment.
I love, love, love it! You are the best, truly…..really…I could listen to you tell stories all day and your class is so fortunate to have you with them each day!
Congrats on 100 posts, that is amazing just like you!
And for years to come your students (and their parents) remember the stories told to them in Room 204, That sense of community always remains with them. Loved this post and so glad to hear that you are still attend the Storytelling Festival.