Storytelling festival offers teachable moments for children’s authors

I can offer one BIG reason why children’s authors should consider attending a storytelling festival, such as the one held this month on March 6 at the University of Texas at San Antonio: Much in the art of storytelling can be applied to creating an engaging author school visit.

But that’s not the only reason to attend. More on that later.

Sponsored by the University’s Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching, the Sixth Annual UTSA Storytelling Festival was both free and open to the public — and offered invaluable insights to those who wish to share stories with children.

A dynamic keynote speaker, teacher and storyteller Mary Ann Blue, spoke on connecting cultures through storytelling. Through a lively tale told in both English and Spanish, she showed just how that was done.

The festival also offered attendees a choice of exciting break out sessions that explored subjects such as “Storytelling Basics: A Brief How-To,” “Unique Ways to Get the Kids Storytelling” and “Bringing History Alive Through Storytelling: Connecting Through Emotions” to name a few.
During the half day program, I watched carefully how each speaker engaged the audience, and how the facial movements, gestures and the variances in vocals kept us all attentive and entertained.

Props, rhythmic instruments, pictures and puppets also enhanced some of the tales the storytellers weaved for us. Again, from my seat in the audience, I considered carefully how these elements might add some spunkiness and sparkle to my own author presentations.

Further, I learned about fables, folk stories, fairy tales and myths and how each offered something vital to a particular age group. I will keep these important insights in mind as I craft my own stories for varying audiences.

But finally, it was fun — fun to hear several good, poignant or rib tickling stories, and fun to be drawn by a skilled presenter into another time, another place, another adventure.