WRITER, STORYTELLER, WORDSMITH…those are only a few words one could use to describe someone that is obsessed with putting words to paper — or in this day and age, to electronic paper…
But I have another word: word weaving, which I like immensely because (at least for me) it describes me perfectly when I do storytelling with children. It’s an interactive form of storytelling, where, most of the time, I have a very basic storyline in mind. I glean names, descriptive words, sounds and animal characters from my young audience, then the magic of a new story begins. I take those words and ideas, creating threads and weave them through the warp of an invisible loom, producing a visibly textured story, with the children providing sound effects, such as screaming in fear, growling, running, laughing — whatever the story requires. They love it — especially if we are in a library, where they’ve been taught to “use your inside (whispering) voices, please”. Loud talking, let alone screaming, is “verboten!” (except, I let the librarian know ahead of time & receive permission for boisterous participation). Always, I feed off of their enthusiasm, wanting to draw the story out, but am usually limited to about twenty or thirty minutes from start to finish because of time constraints in the school schedule.
We are all sad that it’s over, but their imaginations have been given a magical jump start. Now, they see that they can create their very own stories. Of course, it certainly helps to have thousands of stories crammed into your brain from years and years of reading and experiencing life. But they can use what reading and life experiences they’ve crammed into their short lives and create something amazing, too.
That’s my lesson for these brilliantly pliable, open young minds. As Dr. Seuss said, “Oh, the places you’ll go! …And the magical things you can do…” I’m just there to open the doors for them to go through.