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My Start in Storytelling

I spent a lot of time at the library. I could read a book for fun and put it down to deal with the kids, picking it back up again when I could. Books have always been a huge recreation for me.
Mostly it seemed like "me" time never really was available. Finally my kids got to the age where they were in school for part of each day. That meant it was time for me to find something I wanted to do!

One day at the library I noticed a sign up that advertised a job storytelling eight to twelve hours a week. That sounded like something I could do and would like to do. I immediately inquired about the position and found out what the process to apply was.

I went through several interviews, an essay test (!), a drug test and an audition. I thought that was a lot for one job with such short hours but being stubborn, I continued through the whole list. I began to have doubts about my ability to be a storyteller though. Even so I pushed on. I updated my resume and started to think about what to do for the audition.

I was only told to prepare three songs and two stories for it and given no other criteria. At this time I had only seen story telling done once while on a field trip with my son. I was pretty worried about what to do. I found two stories that I really loved, that love of story is always the key, I think. These stories were "The Terrible Eek" by Patricia A. Compton and "The Blind Wise Men and the Elephant." I couldn’t find a source for it at the time, but since then I have found several picture books and story collections that contain that story.

I was also substituting at a pre-school that that time so one day I tried my stories and songs out on the older two year old class I was subbing for. I was pleased when they listened and sat enthralled! If you have spent much time with that age group, you know that such a reaction is practically a miracle.

I made the "Wise Blind Men" story into one that instead had young baby birds whose eyes had not yet opened. Their parents took each of them somewhere separately to try to figure out what something was. They said it was the "Whatzit Game." Lots of flapping and tweeting was included in this version of the story. Finally at the end of the story, the parents revealed that the baby birds had all been to the same object and the siblings had a huge fight arguing about what it was. The parents calmed the kids down and explained that someday their eyes would open and they would be able to see. Still they would not really see unless they listened to other’s ideas and saw ALL of something. Then they explained how the "drum", "ball", "rope", "snake", "waterfall", "fans" and so on were really all just parts of an elephant. After that the baby birds argued less knowing that each of them was wise in their own way.

If you’ve never read "The Terrible Eek," why not look it up? It is a great, funny story.

On the audition date, the director of the Children’s Department who I had interviewed with was not there. That threw me a bit but then three young ladies sat down to watch and rate my performance. It was a little surprising to me that they were all at least ten years younger than I. I forged on. They seemed to like it. The question was how well did they like it compared to anyone else’s audition. I had no way of knowing how many other candidates they might be seeing.

Just when I was ready to assume that I hadn’t gotten the position and that story telling must not be for me, I got a call. Yes, I was hired! I was to start the very next week!

I spent a week in "training" which meant I actually got to see the storyteller I was replacing do one program and was also trained on all sorts of library procedures. The next week I started doing two thirty-minute story times a week.

That was about six years ago. Six wonderful, mostly joyful years of making people happy with songs, stories and activities. Now I work in my own story telling business and I love story telling for all ages and groups!

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