storytelling

Great Podcasts for Life-Long Learning

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

When I can't get my audio learning fix from our many Modern Scholar courses, I turn to podcasts. Podcasts are audio or video-based shows available for download, streaming, or online subscription. Many of them regularly update in weekly or monthly installments, so there is almost always a new episode to catch up on or many past installments to explore.

Ruth Sawyer and the Way of the Storyteller

Ruth Sawyer lived an extraordinary life. Though born many years before women had the right to vote, there is no doubt that she was a thoroughly independent and extremely intelligent woman with a knack for collecting stories and retelling them.

She did more than collect interesting tales and set them in books, although that would be enough for many writers. But Ruth did more. For her, connecting children with stories was critical.  After attending the Garland Kindergarten Training School, she moved to Cuba in 1900 to teach storytelling to teachers working with children who were orphaned during the Spanish-American War.

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde

What's wrong with this story:

A father tells the authorities his daughter can do impossible things AND the authorities believe him. 
A soon-to-be bride promises to give her future baby away to a TROLL. 
Said bride agrees to marry the man who's threatened to kill her if she can't keep doing the impossible. 
What would a troll do with a baby anyhow, and why would he give her all that spun gold for a tiny ring? 
Why doesn't the heroine do ANYTHING to get herself out of this predicament?!

This old fairy tale is such a ridiculous story that the author wanted to fix it. So Vivian Vande Velde set out to do so six different ways in The Rumpelstiltskin Problem. The characters never come out the same in these retellings. The troll in "A Fairy Tale in Bad Taste" has gruesome appetites. "Straw Into Gold" has our beauty and her father resorting to an elaborate con game to keep from starving to death in the days before Social Security or insurance.

Thistle and Thyme: Tales and Legends from Scotland by Sorche Nic Leodhas

Thistle and Thyme: Tales and Legends from Scotland by Sorche Nic Leodhas

In the far-off days when the Picts and the Scots were dividing the ancient land of Scotland and fighting amongst themselves to decide who could get hold of the most of it, there came good men from over the seas to settle the land.

--“The Drowned Bells of the Abbey”

Firelight and drumbeat were the original backdrop for these tales, true and added to and some imagined altogether, that are retold in Sorche Nic Leodhas’ award-winning book, Thistle and Thyme.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

In the dark of night, a monster approaches Conor’s bedroom window. The massive, human-like gnarl of branches with its thunderous voice fails to frighten the boy. You see, Conor has already glimpsed the source of his personal terror. It lives in his nightmares.

A Monster Calls was written after Patrick Ness used outlines and ideas from the British writer Siobhan Dowd, a Carnegie Medal-winning author who died of cancer in 2007. The final product is a taut, suspenseful reflection on losing a loved one, accompanied by the message to be honest with one’s self.

Ireland, a Bicycle, and a Tin Whistle

By David A. Wilson

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Ireland, a Bicycle, and a Tin Whistle takes us on a journey across wild open spaces and through crowded pubs and festivals that pulse with energy and life. This is the Ireland of fiddles, harps, and flutes, butterflies on bog roads, Country-and-Irish songs, Ulster Fries, storytelling, yarnspinning, and jigs and reels to the crack of dawn. As he travels through the North, Wilson gets beneath the surface to portray both the tragedy and comedy of everyday life inside the Protestant and Catholic communities.”

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Stickin' to, Watchin' over, and Gettin' with: An African American Parent's Guide to Discipline

By Howard C. Stevenson, Gwendolyn Davis, Saburah Abdul-Kabir

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Combining the rich oral traditions of African American storytelling and proverbs with short, well-organized essays, the authors provide valuable guidance for raising responsible and successful children.

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The Ghost & I: Scary Stories for Participatory Telling

By Jennifer Justice

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"This anthology of audience participation stories is the next in a series of books that began with the publication of Joining In. Jennifer Justice, a marvelous storyteller from Boston, combines her keen editorial ability with her intimate story sense to bring us into the realm of ghostly humor and fright. The Ghost & I features 16 tales by award-winners Joe Bruchac, Rafe Martin, Heather Forest, Laura Simms, Jay OCallahan, and more. The stories, geared for ages 5 14, vary from funny to frightening, and from simple to complex in plot and imagery. Some of the stories invite a great deal of physical participation, while others simply inspire active listening by repetition and anticipation."

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One Amazing Thing by C. B. Divakaruni

One Amazing Thing by C. B. Divakaruni

Do you ever wonder how you might react under extreme duress? Would you rise to the occasion and become an example to those struggling around you or would you withdraw and cower in fear? In One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, nine everyday men and women are put to that exact test as their lives change over the course of one disastrous event.

In advance of a planned trip to India, the above-mentioned people—most solo, but several in pairs—have all chosen this day to go to the consulate in California to obtain a travel visa. As with many bureaucratic departments, the wait is interminable. Graduate student Uma is preparing to visit her parents who have recently moved back to India. In her irritation with the long delay, she ignores the first slight rumble. The second quake, however, rips apart what was only seconds earlier a solid building.

The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories

By Christopher Booker

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From The Epic of Gilgemesh to Jaws and Schindler's List, Christopher Booker examines in detail the stories that underlie literature and the plots that are basic to story telling through the ages. He examines the plots of films, opera libretti, folk tales, myths and the contemporary novel and short story. Underlying the stories he examines are Seven Basic Plots: rags to riches; the quest; voyage and return; the hero as monster; rebirth and so on. Booker shows that the images and stories serve a far deeper and more significant purpose in our lives than we have realised.
In the definition of these basic plots, Booker shows us we are entering a realm in which the recognition of the plots proves only to be the gateway. We are in fact uncovering a kind of hidden universal language: a nucleus of situations and figures which are the very stuff from which stories are made.

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