Workshop series brings stories to life

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“Once upon a time, oral storytelling ruled. It was the medium through which people learned their history, settled their arguments, and came to make sense of the phenomena of their world. Then along came the written word. … Oral storytelling, like the simpleminded youngest brother in the olden tales, was foolishly cast aside. …

“Luckily, a few wise librarians, camp counsellors, folklorists and traditional tellers from cultures which still highly valued the oral tale kept storytelling alive. … Teachers discovered that children could easily recall whatever historical or scientific facts they learned through story.”

(1992 position statement on

storytelling from the U.S. National Council of Teachers of English)

The Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy is hosting storytelling workshops with Procter’s Barry Gray.

A professional storyteller from Procter, Gray believes that we all have “inner storytellers” and simply need a few tips and a little guidance to get in touch with the stories that are in us, just waiting to be told. Lucky schoolchildren from outlying area schools will have a chance to do this, as they take part in his storytelling workshops, sponsored by the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL), and Creston’s Spirit of BC Festival.

All are welcome to attend community sharing events on the East Shore from 1-2:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at the Crawford Bay Elementary Secondary School theatre, and in Yahk from 1-2:45 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Yahk Kingsgate Community Hall. A potluck lunch will be held at noon on Feb. 22 at the Lower Kootenay Band gymnasium, followed by readings from 1-3 p.m.

Storytelling is an ancient art that is, happily, still practiced today. You know this if you have ever traded yarns around a late night campfire, or have seen a small wiggly child keep still as a grandparent huffs and puffs their way through the story of the Three Little Pigs.

Since the human race began, people have told stories to each other to pass on family lore, values and beliefs, common history and heritage, to teach factual and conceptual information, to entertain and to form bonds of friendship. When children learn storytelling, it strengthens and enhances skills that they need to function in today’s world. It helps them to be active not only in presenting but also in focused listening and reacting, enhancing the vital skills of communication. Research has shown that storytelling helps children learn better in all academic areas, enhancing their engagement in learning, encouraging them to think about issues, and delivering emotional and factual content beyond a child’s vocabulary or reading ability.

Students from Yahk, Yaqan Nukiy and Crawford Bay schools will participate in two sessions with Barry Gray, first learning how to create their own stories for telling and then how to tell them in public. In the afternoon of the final day in each community, there will be a community sharing, where students will tell their stories to families, schoolmates and any interested community members. Gray and local storytellers will also perform — in Yahk, this will be poet and writer Lee Rose, and at Yaqan Nukiy School, Robert Louie, Sr.