Looking Back

Before the pandemic, I used to perform interactive storytelling programs in elementary schools. Three weeks after the first lockdown last March, I moved my storytelling programs online. This afternoon, I was looking back over  some of my old blog posts, and felt a little nostalgic for the good old days when I was performing live in schools. Here is an excerpt from a 2013 blog post. 

February 2013

February is always a busy month of telling stories from Africa in celebration of Black History month.  There are so many fabulous African stories I love to tell and I look forward to sharing my favourites with students all over southern Ontario.

This week, I visited seven different schools and as always after a day of storytelling, came home with many anecdotal stories to share with my husband.  Here are some of the highlights of my week.

After a whole school assembly, a group of children crowded around me asking questions and telling me which stories they liked best, when I felt my  right hand being manipulated by someone small.  I looked down and saw a little boy from the junior kindergarten class, twisting my wrist and positioning the palm of my hand to receive his “low five” slap of appreciation.  He didn’t say a word, but just looked up at me and smiled, then turned around and stepped back into line with his kindergarten classmates.

In another school, before the assembly I met two grade seven boys in the gym who were setting up chairs for their teachers.  As I often do, I told the two boys that if they wanted to volunteer to join me on stage to help dramatize one of the stories, I’d choose them. One of the boys took me up on my offer and during the assembly, volunteered to play the role of ‘the lazy farmer’ in a humorous tale, called Talk! Throughout the story, the lazy farmer had to ‘throw up his hands and scream in alarm’ in reaction to a talking sweet potato, a talking stick, a talking fish and a number of other talking inanimate objects. My grade seven volunteer played his role with delightful gusto and had the whole school roaring with laughter. After the assembly, his teacher told me that he was a very shy student and she was thrilled that he had had the chance to shine in front of the whole school!

In another school, a little girl, seated on the gym floor at my feet, kept, telling me that she wanted to wear the elephant hat I had produced from my story bag.  I told her I would choose her to play the elephant, if she sat patiently and volunteered when we got to the elephant’s part in the story. She sat down eagerly demonstrating her compliance. When the elephant’s part in the story arrived,  I invited her to put on the hat and play the role of the elephant. She performed her role beautifully.  Afterwards, her teacher told me she was autistic and normally didn’t participate in assemblies. It was a happy day for all of us.

Next week, there will be more stories to tell and more inspirational children to meet.  I can’t wait!

 Happy Storytelling!

Cheryl Thornton