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Teachers, Students Invited to Storytelling Conference

KEENE, N.H. 2/6/02 Internationally known storyteller and childrens author Laura Simms will be one of five professionals to offer workshops at The Gift of Telling Tales, the 11th annual New England Conference on Storytelling for Children, to be held at Keene State College on Saturday, April 6.

The workshops are for teachers, parents, and anyone else who enjoys sharing stories with children, said Mary Mayshark-Stavely, a teacher in the Child Development Center at KSC and the events organizer. A public storytelling session by conference presenters will begin at 3 p.m. All activities will be held in the Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond.

The conference will begin at 9 a.m. with a keynote address by Simms titled Sudden Story The Gift of Telling Tales. Simms, who is the director of the Gaindeh Project, an International Storytelling for Survival Initiative, is an award winning storyteller, educator, and author and has worked with children and adults all over the world. In her talk, Simms, who lives in N.Y.C., will discuss how media, technology, and the reliance on didactic methods of teaching may not give children the resources or context they need for learning, developing compassion, and discovering meaning. Simms will also talk about why she believes it is necessary to nurture the hearts and imaginations of children as the key to wholesome living and learning.

During her morning workshop In Quest of the Hidden Story, Simms will help participants expand their knowledge of how to uncover a storys deeper meaning, discover what makes a truly satisfying tale, and decide which stories promote compassion for self, for others, and for the natural world.

Other workshop leaders and topics include Becky Graber (Creating Stories: Word Play and Imagination Stretchers), Nancy Mellon (Storytelling as a Healing Art), Carolyn Parrott (Three Rs for the Storyteller: Repetition, Rhythm, and Rhyme), and Mark Shepard (Storytelling with Sound Effects Instruments).

Graber, who teaches, conducts, and performs in schools, libraries, and concert venues throughout New England, has designed several activities to help participants learn to create various forms of stories. Working alone, with partners, in small groups, and as a whole group, participants will explore one-word stories, story box stories, movement stories, and more.

Storytelling can be used to help families and communities in challenging times, says Mellon. In her workshop, Mellon will provide participants with guided exercises and expose them to tried-and-true universal story patterns. Mellon, from Wilton, N.H., gives workshops on the restorative power of storytelling at many locations in the U.S., U.K. and Canada and is the director of a school of therapeutic storytelling.

An advocate of the oral tradition in both storytelling and in music-learning, Parrott will give a workshop on how to use spoken and sung chants to enhance stories. She will also discuss different modes of inviting (and limiting) audience participation. Parrott teaches voice, Appalachian fiddle, and five- string banjo at her home in Hopkinton, N.H. She also performs in schools and libraries and is on the Touring and Arts-in-Education rosters funded by the N.H. State Council on the Arts.

Shepard, a singer, songwriter, percussionist, and storyteller, will show participants how to make several sound-effects instruments out of household items. He will also show how these and other inexpensive and easy-to-use instruments can involve children more actively in the learning process.

The conference fee of $60 includes all workshop materials and admission to the public storytelling presentation. College students may attend for half-price. Students in grades six and above are invited to register for the day-long event. Small groups of these students accompanied by chaperones will be admitted at a reduced price.

For additional information or registration materials, contact Mary Mayshark- Stavely, a teacher in the Child Development Center at Keene State, at 603-358-2218, by mail at Keene State College, 229 Main Street, Keene, NH 03435-2503. or by e-mail at The web address is

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229 Main Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03435