National Storytelling Week
Once upon a time… we started storytelling.
Storytelling is the oldest art form in the world. We make sense of our society in narrative, retelling our experience through conversations. We entertain each other with stories; we learn from each other through stories; stories are a powerful source of therapy.
National Storytelling Week is now in its eleventh year. This year it runs from 30th January to 6th February and its aim is to increase public awareness of the art, practice and value of oral storytelling.
To celebrate this important week, we encourage you take part in our Headteacher’s Lockdown Challenge – to think about a story you love and consider how to tell it to your family without reading it from a script. Below are some top tips from the Society for Storytelling (SfS) which will help.
You might also consider drawing a scene from your favourite book, or creating a poster for it, to help you think about some of the key points in the story. Our Year 8s have been doing a lovely job of this with their Woman in Black studies in English. You might want to have a look here. Would you tell this part of your story in a different way?
The Society for Storytelling: 5 Top Tips
1. Speak from your heart, not ‘by heart’
Storytelling is about sharing – not just the sharing of words and plot, but the sharing of emotions and experiences. Many people find it easier to tell stories which have their roots in their own culture. Make this a starting point. However, if a particular culture holds a great deal of interest for you do not be afraid to explore tales from that culture.
2. Try adapting a tale!
Traditional tales have been told for generations, with each teller changing and adapting the tale to meet the needs of the time or the audience. Can you develop your own version of a story you like?
3. Use different techniques to learn your story
Storytelling is different to reading – it is best done without a visual prompt to remind you of the words. Consider how you feel most comfortable learning other things and apply this to learning stories. Perhaps you have a good visual memory? Try storyboarding your tale on paper. Is your aural memory best? Listen to your story in order to learn it.
4. Visualise your story
Often it’s easier to learn a story by imagining it as a series of pictures and events, rather than memorizing the words. This will help you to make it unique to you, and will make the pictures in your head come alive for your audience too. There are more tips on this at this ‘Beginner’s Guide to Telling Stories’ by the SfS.
5. Think about your delivery
Your audience is here for a story, not for a play. Relax and keep your words spontaneous. Enhance the story by varying the rhythm and tone of your voice. Watch your audience – are they captivated? End the story strongly, with a traditional ending perhaps – “They lived happily, so may we. Put on a kettle, let’s have a cup of tea” – or make up your own!
Hear a story from Trinidad
Mrs McComish has kindly told a story that she learned growing up in Trinidad. It is called String Bank by Paul Keens Douglas. The story behind it is that kite flying is a well-established thing in Trinidad. Kites are usually homemade with tissue paper and cocoyea (part of the coconut branch) and children use string (or thread) to hold when it flies. What do you think about the story?
Find out more about National Storytelling Week at: https://www.sfs.org.uk/national-storytelling-week
If you’re struggling to access books during lockdown, Mrs Brind, our School Librarian, offers some guidance here.