Today I was telling stories at an elementary school - three groups divided into grades, 1 and 2, 3 and 4, and 5 and 6. Telling to the first and second grades was such fun. They loved the stories, sang out bombastically as the rooster in Rooster Calls the Sun. Kids love to be involved. They laughed and poked each other, smiling and happy. A delight.
The set with the third and fourth grades was a different story altogether. The third graders allowed themselves to get into the stories but the fourth graders were downright squirrelly. They could not keep still or pay attention. Their brownian movement was bothersome for my concentration but over time I have learned to just keep right on going.
When the fifth and sixth graders arrived their bigger bodies filled the library. They create a presence. I wondered how they would be today. Were they too having an "off" day. I told The Pumpkin Seed Bird and The Friendship Orchard . I like these stories because they have such vivid images Afterwards when I ask the students what images they would draw they are always ready with remembered scenes from the story.
We talked briefly about the oral tradition - that these stories had been passed down over many years and now, when I tell the stories to them the stories became theirs. "Take them and tell them to your families and friends. Carry the stories on."
At the end of the session when students were filing out, a sixth grade boy stepped around his classmates to approach me." When I tell the stories - can I change them?" There was a twinkle in his eyes. It was obvious he had an idea.
"Sure. The stories are yours now."
He turned away then turned back. "Thanks." He was smiling as he joined his class.
A young storyteller - I wish I could be there to hear his version.
Oral tradition is alive and well.