Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
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Intro to Storytelling
November 12, 2009 |
I've been listening to your show ever since I was a teenager, and I love it so much. I am a fourth grade teacher now, and I would like to help my students become storytellers. What advice do you have for them or for me?
Have a unit on jokes: put 40 or 50 narrative jokes in a hat and pass it around and everyone has to tell that joke, impromptu. Introduce them to the classic stories you, Angela, telling them the stories The Little Mermaid (the original H.C. Andersen version), Ulysses, Noah and the Ark, the Prodigal Son, Romeo and Juliet, B'rer Rabbit, Snow White, and so forth and introduce them to the idea of oral impromptu narrative....
Offer them some stories from your own daily life (What Happened To Me On Tuesday) without making this seem like an academic exercise. And then pair them up into writing teams to create works of fiction, thrillers, sci-fi, historical, any genre each team tells you what they'd like to write a story about and you approve it and then off they go. And the reward is recognition the best writers get to read some of their work to the class. Team writing is a way around writer's block, self-consciousness, and show-off tendencies (and it cuts in half the number of stories you have to read). Storytelling is a good road to developing all sorts of skills (so you can defend this to your superiors) and it's a pleasure for you. Fourth-graders are a tough audience, but not as tough as older kids. I did a Lake Wobegon monologue the one about the pontoon boat, a proven crowd-pleaser to a writing class at the University of Minnesota and half of them sat watching movies on their laptops or updating Facebook pages. Impossible.