edu180atl: sarah beth nelson 9.21.12
As a librarian I place a high value on the written word and strive to instill a love of reading in my students. But, as a storyteller, I also place a high value on the spoken word. The breath of life adds meaning; it adds intimacy that is lacking on the page.
I read books aloud to my students often – the perfect intersection of written and spoken. I try to read theatrically, giving the characters distinct voices. But, there is always the book between us and always the understanding that the words are not my own.
Then there are days when I give in to my guilty pleasure of storytelling. Today was one of those days. I told a story about going to Space Camp and a story from Roman Mythology.
As the class left room one student stopped to say, “Thank you for your stories.”
My first thought was, “But they aren’t my stories!” With no book I am the “authority” but most stories have not originated with me. Even those that do, could not persist without listeners. I hesitate to accept ownership.
Now, as I write this, I am beginning to see that perhaps I shouldn’t focus on the “your stories” part, but the “thank you.” In thanking me, this student accepted what I was giving away. What really matters is not whether or not the stories are mine, but that they are certainly now his.
Sarah Beth is a librarian at The Lovett School and also serves on the board of the Southern Order of Storytellers. She has two children, two cats, and one husband.