I was very happy that the Children's Literary Salon returned to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building after about a 4-month hiatus. The salon feels like a conference on children's literature, and it is always informative and fun. On Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 2pm, we had the following program. The Children's Literary Salon is organized by the Children's Center at 42nd Street.
Children's Literary Salon - Storytelling! Its Past, Its Present, Its Future
The panel was moderated by Betsy Bird, Supervising Librarian at the Schwarzman Building.
I am a big fan of LuAnn Adams. She performed stories at the Edenwald Library for the summer reading celebration in August of 2008. She was awesome and dynamic, and she told her stories from memory. I saw her at a couple of other libraries since, and I actually helped her find a book that was at the Mid-Manhattan Library when she came into another library looking for it. She's a very bubbly person, and that definitely comes across in her storytelling. At one of the New York Public Library's smaller branches, she did an interactive storytelling session with a Dr. Seuss theme and many interesting props. I was very excited to hear what she had to say about her own profession.
I have never heard of Regina Ress before I heard she was coming to the Children's Literary Salon, but I found a webpage about her.
Again, I have never heard of Bill Gordh before this event, but there's a webpage about the banjo-playing storyteller.
First, each of the storytellers told a story. Then Betsy Bird asked a series of questions.
Regina Ress has participated in post-disaster relief storytelling. She said that it was very important to get people engaged with helping after a disaster so that they did not feel helpless. She has also done storytelling in prisons. She told a Haitain folktale, and she started off in the Haitain style. In one story, she said "Crick," as a storyteller in Haiti would say. It basically means, "Hi, I have a story to tell. Are you ready to hear it?" She instructed us to respond, "Crack," meaning "Yes, I definitely want to hear the story." As she told the folktale, she walked back and forth and used hand gestures to illustrate the story. She used an escalating and de-escalating voice tone to communicate a sense of urgency to supplement the words of a story. In this way, storytellers help the story come alive in the moment, which creates a much different experience than simply reading text on paper.
LuAnn Adams has told stories at libraries and wildlife centers. She told the story of Little Red Riding Hood, which she used once when a school asked her to give a talk about stranger danger prior to storytelling. She sang a very rhythmic song for the story, and used a doll from her mother for Little Red Riding Hood, then transformed from a little girl in a red dress to a Big Bad Wolf to Granny. In her storytelling, she likes to use props.
Bill Gordh first told a hand story from West Africa in which he moved his fingers separately and used different voices for each finger. Then he told a story about a little pumpkin, and he played his banjo during the story. He is very committed to telling stories in schools, and he told us that the kids call him "Mr. Banjo."
Betsy Bird's questions
- How did you become a storyteller?
- How do you find your stories?
- Can you talk about unexpected groups that you've told your stories to?
- What advice would you give up-and-coming storytellers?
The program was fantastic. I really did not expect the storytellers to perform at the Children's Literary Salon, and I found it fascinating to see them practice their craft, then give their insights and thoughts about their profession. They appreciate how the stories touch people, change their lives, and the interaction between themselves, as they perform, and their audiences. They stressed that the interaction was not one-sided, and that they cater their stories to particular audiences. A fascinating profession, good conversation, and some unexpected stories! As always, Betsy Bird asked thought-provoking questions, and obtained some great panellists!
Please join us for the following Children's Literary Salon sessions at the Stephen A. Schwarzman building.
The sessions are usually held on the 1st or 2nd Saturday of the month from 2-3pm.
Upcoming Children's Literary Salons
Children's Literary Salon - Funny Ha Ha: Humorous Books for Kids
Saturday, December 3, 2011, 2 p.m.
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Margaret Liebman Berger Forum
Continuing our series where we explore amusing books for children, we look at funny books in a myriad of forms: funny picture books, funny graphic novels, and funny early chapter books. Join David Roman (Astronaut Academy), Nick Bruel (Bad Kitty), Laurie Keller (Arnie the Donut) and Jules Feiffer (Bark, George) as we look at finding the funny for different ages of kids.