NATIONAL STORYTELLING WEEK
SfS NATIONAL STORYTELLING WEEK
(first week in February -embracing February 2nd. - each year)
I recently spoke to Del Reid, Chairman of the Society for Storytelling and asked him for some background details. He said that a designated week was only formalised three years ago, although various Folk related festivals and one-off storytelling events had been held at this time for much longer.
It was decided that a week long festival should be popularised and encouraged. The chosen period, (first week in February) was selected for two reasons: In Britain, February is probably the gloomiest of months, the weather potentially at it’s worst and the euphoria of Christmas and the New Year having long passed, people needed something to lift the spirits. The week also coincides with ‘Candlemas’ (Feb 2nd.), a nowadays relatively neglected Christian festival associated with the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (40 days after the birth of Christ).
The date is also celebrated in the pagan calendar as the symbolic ending of winter and the beginning of spring.
N.B. The Society for Storytelling is a UK national organisation. It provides information and support for its members. To learn more
For those of you in America, 'The National Storytelling Network' is the organisation that covers information for storytellers in the United States.
During my endeavours in promoting National Storytelling Week (Feb. 2nd. To 8th. 2003), I was given several telephone numbers to call. They were telephone numbers of people who might be interested in either directly participating in the week or at least possibly offering me personal storytelling opportunities.
One such person was Richard Marshall, employed by the Blackpool Local Education Authority. His designation is, ‘Emotional Literacy Co-ordinator’. Until then, I had no idea that such an office existed. His remit is to liaise with schools in the borough in identifying children with emotional problems and then develop ways of helping them to deal with their troubles, which can be many and diverse.
When I ‘phoned him and told him who I was, what I was about and that I had been advised by a colleague to contact him, he said, “You’d better come and see me”. I went to his office that same afternoon.
Lying on his desk were five gaily illustrated children’s story books. The stories were written by Margot Sunderland, a children’s psychologist. Each book contained only one story and each story was targeted at a specific type of emotional problem. There was support information and activity advice with which parents or teachers could develop after the story had been delivered.
Richard had sent away for these books, intending them to be offered to the schools where an interest had been indicated. The books had been in his possession for a few days and his problem was how could the stories be presented to the children and who would tell them? – and then I rang!
I am currently taking the stories into eight schools and presenting a minimum of two forty-five minute sessions in each one. The schools choose from the five available, the stories that they wish me to deliver and each session contains only one of the prescribed stories. For the remainder of the period I tell tales from a selection of stories that I enjoy and which seem to work for me.
Following the telling of the specific story (normally the last one), we have about five minutes appraisal time, allowing the children to offer any observations that they care to make. There is further follow-up activity, conducted by the teachers, using the material supplied within the accompanying support packs.
It is all very interesting and I feel privileged to be involved in such a worthwhile project.
If anyone out there would like to know more, let me know and I will email you with the titles of the stories and the address of the publisher.