Do you remember storytime when you were at primary school? The class gathered in a semicircle around the teacher while they told us of other worlds, different characters, and involved us in a journey of the imagination.
While I’m sure that many schools still have storytime, I’m not sure that it’s the same as it was before the age of tablets and e-readers. Especially as children get older, they have both the ability and desire to read for themselves and interpret stories in their own mind. For me, there was a certain pang of nostalgic glee upon realising that there is a National Storytelling Week that promotes and celebrates the traditional art of oral storytelling. This year, it runs from 28th January to 4th February.
The Society for Storytelling founded the awareness week around the turn of the new millennium, and is now in its 17th year. Across the country there will be theatres, museums, clubs, schools, and more holding events where people can go along and lose themselves in the imagination of both story and teller.
Fancy getting involved? Below, we’ve listed some popular stories along with some suggestions for inspiring a young audience.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle)
This Eric Carle favourite lends itself well to lots of munching noises as the greedy caterpillar eats his way through the book. The colourful visuals are an added bonus, and can inspire a range of other creative activities.
The Adventures of Captain Underpants (Dav Pilkey)
With a title like that, you just know it’s a story that a younger audience will be delighted with. This silly story is the perfect opportunity to have fun and laugh with your class!
Fantastic Mister Fox (Roald Dahl)
It didn’t take long for a Roald Dahl book to find its way onto this post! Dahl’s writing became the foundation for an entire lexicon, and generations of children have enjoyed his colourful tales. Playing around with speed and tone that matches his creative prose is sure to make for a memorable storytime!
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (C.S Lewis)
This timeless classic is at the very top of the hierarchy when it comes to fantasy stories. Children at the upper end of KS2 will love hearing about a distant land that can be found from a mundane bit of furniture, and the writing of Lewis makes it a joy to weave a magical tale for an imaginative audience.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾ (Sue Townsend)
Sue Townsend’s take on the diary of a 13-year-old boy has been a stalwart of young people’s reading lists for a long time now, and with good reason: it’s brilliantly funny. What better way to engage a slightly older audience than with reading lines such as “I don’t know why women are so mad about flowers. Personally, they leave me cold. I prefer trees”.
1984 (George Orwell)
George Orwell’s dystopian novel that introduces us to Big Brother and the Ministry of Truth seems to be more and more relevant as time goes on. While not as light-hearted as other suggestions on this list, it’s a book laced with more mature themes that, when presented by a storyteller, emphasize the dark nature of the story.
Are you planning on taking part in National Storytelling Week? Let us know, and we’d be happy to promote your event! Want more? The Society for Storytelling has a list of events and resources on its website.