Monday, August 11, 2008

Are there any really scary stories?

Scary stories are a conundrum. When telling to children there are always a few who will get scared by such innocuous stories like "The Ghost with Bloody Fingers" and there are others who think the story is lame because they were not scared. Kids want to be scared and then part way through a scary story they may not want to be scared that is why so many tried and true scary stories have a fun or light ending. Even when kids say they aren't scared at the end the truth is that many are scared through the story.

In audiences with slightly older children the fun ending stories don't always work, they want to be more scared and have it last longer. A funny thing happened the other night to one of my storytelling friends. She told a ghost story and for the most part the audience was believing it but as soon as she finished the kids asked if it was true. Since there was no fun release it was a way for them to release their fear if it was not true. My friend wondered what would have happened if it was true, would they be scared or just skeptical that she was lying.

Telling scary stories around the campfire is fun but for professional tellers it can be a tight rope experience. Make it scary enough but don't leave the audience shaking with fear, especially if they are camping out for the night.

I would be interested in hearing others experiences with telling and hearing scary stories. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Education Help

I'm not really surprised but I just read a string of messages regarding online help for teachers who have faced difficult situations. The initial questin was to try and find help from others through their stories of similar events. The first site listed was something tried in the UK, the second message referenced a blog for sage advice from teachers at . Having found these couple there are probably several sites where teachers can rant and praise classroom happenings.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Oldest Profession?

Recently someone mentioned to me that they thought Storytelling was the oldest profession known to man as opposed to what is normally called the "oldest profession". I suspect we will never know for sure but before the written word stoytellers and bards were some of the most revered members of a community. Another person listening to this exchange shared with us a story of an invasion in Ireland. The first thing the conquerors did was round up the storytellers, bards and troubadours and killed them! Why? Because they knew that these people were truly the ones who preserved the culture and tradition of the Irish. If they wanted to assimilate them they needed to get rid of the reminders of the Irish culture.

Are you passing on your culture and family traditions to your children? Tell stories, keep your family alive.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Everyone Has a Story

Did you ever wonder why blogging is huge, why YouTube is taking off and why Facebook is not just for kids anymore? In this humble spider's opinion it is because we all have a story to tell and are looking for people to listen and connect with. We choose to tell our stories in different ways but the most generous thing you can do for another is listen to his/her story. So, this week quiet your mind for a bit and listen to a loved one, friend or even an acquaintance. I'm sure you will be pleasantly surprised by what you her.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Remembering and Connecting

Liven up any party or family gathering by telling a few stories involving the guest of honor. Stories are great for conneting generations. The younger generations get to find out what life was like back "when" and more about "where" they come from. Older generations can set examples for how to tellinteresting stories.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Stories, video games and Education

Two years ago the National Storytelling Conference held a panel discussion on how stories can be incorporated into video games to help educate. The following link is an amazing example of how story and a video game are being used in a college course to help students learn the concepts of economics. Video games often get a bad wrap but maybe if they are used right.......

Here is the link

Play on!


Thursday, July 24, 2008

One Man's take on story

Wow, I just finished watching the Randy Pausch story. For those of you who haven't heard, he is a college professor who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Apparently the cancer is usually diagnosed very late and the survival rate is very low. He has beaten the odds at this point.

There are many amazing things about the man including "The Last Lecture", now a book, a truly moving speech made as his last lecture at Carneige Melon in Pittsburgh. During the last lecture one thing really caught my attention. He said "Don't tell people how to live their lives, tell them stories and they'll figure it out." The Native American and African cultures have lived by that motto for a long time. Give people a lesson in a story, let them figure it out and then they own it and are willing to do the right thing.

Thank you Randy for a reminder of what is really important in life.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Anansi Boys

I just finished listening to "Anansi Boys" by Neil Gaiman. A fun book set in modern day times but with lots of references to magic and the way the world used to be when the animals could talk. It has great references to Anansi and all the stories about the trickster spider. A couple of the folktales are even included. I'm sure the book is a good read but if you are interested at all in performance storytelling then definitely get the CD (libraries). The narrator is masterful with accents and characterization.

The power of story is throughout this little book. Read/listen to this book and let your imagination run wild.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Central Park New York Storytelling.

For anyone in the New York City area or for anyone who might find themselves there below is a link with a schedule of tellings that will be happening at the Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park. This series has been happening for several years now on Saturday mornings from 11-12. A professional teller shares tales of HC Andersen and other artists. The location is beautiful, outside and at the feet of the statue of a master storyteller. The stories are appropriate for anyone over 5. Best of all, its FREE!

Here is the link, check it out.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Who Is Anansi

For anyone familiar with world folk tales you probably already have a good handle on who Anansi is. For those of you new to the folk world or to the story world then google Anansi and see what you get. Pages and pages of information on the trickster spider from Africa. Better you should read some of that information instead of me just repeating what has already been said.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The 27th Annual Festival

Well, the 27th Annual Connecticut Storytelling Festival is over and the halls have gone quiet for the time being. Friday night of the Festival was a rip roaring good time with Jackson Gillman entertaining folks at the Mid-Nine Cabaret. Saturday was again filled with all kinds of stories, something for everyone. Sunday was a relaxing wrap up to a full weekend.

Next year Jay O'Callahan will be performing so mark your calendars now, the last week in April of 2009. See you then but in the meantime keep on telling.

Monday, April 21, 2008

So Many Uses for Stories

There are so many uses for story in communication that in an effort to have web conversations flow the posts will be labeled with general gategories such as, Scary Stories, Folk Tales, Business Stories, Educational Uses and any other specialty category that might arise from the posts and comments made.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Upcoming Events

I have been remiss in not reminding you about the upcoming Connecticut Storytelling Festival. It is held on the campus of Connecticut College in New London, you guessed it Connecticut. There are events all weekend long but you can come for one of any number of the events. Friday night April 25th is a concert for families and Saturday the 26th is a full day of performances and workshops for adults. Many of these award CEU's for teachers and librarians. Sunday the 27th is more laid back, an opportunity to get to meet the headliners for the weekend. Check out the full schedule at

Hope to see you there.