How to Organise a Storytelling Session

By Alice König, Book Aid International Community Ambassador

Alice König volunteers for Book Aid International as a community ambassador. As a community ambassador, König raises money for Book Aid International and promotes reading in her community. König became a community ambassador because she believes in the importance of Book Aid International’s work: “Books, literacy and education are so key to aid and development, and the work of Book Aid International not only changes lives — it has the power to change the future.” For more information about becoming a Book Aid International community ambassador, see Book Aid International’s website.

As a community ambassador, Alice König has raised money for Book Aid International in a variety of ways. Organizing a storytelling session is one way to both raise money and promote reading.

Alice Konig storytelling
Alice König leads a storytime session.

Children’s storytelling sessions are a wonderful way to share the joy of books and do a bit of fundraising at the same time.

To begin, choose an age group for you storytelling session. Will you aim the session at toddlers and pre-schoolers, five to eight-year-olds or older kids? Once you know who you are reading for, pick a theme; it might be Africa, Christmas around the world, tigers, space – anything you like. You might want to collect a few pictures, a map, or some toys or other props to help you introduce the theme at the start of the session. Let the children pass the objects around. Ask the children what they know about your theme. It is great fun to share ideas, and it warms them up for what’s to come.

Next, you will need to find some stories. Several short stories, which offer different perspectives on the theme, are always better than one or two long passages. You want to keep the children’s attention and give them plenty to think about. It is always best if you can find stories that kids have not read before. (There are plenty of book recommendations online as well as in bookshops. Your local librarian might have some good suggestions.) It is fun if you can get the children involved in some of the storytelling by giving them roles to play and taking along props or clothes to help them play their parts. Variety is important, so mix plain storytelling with acting stories out. You might even throw in a song or a poem or two.

Themed crafts following the storytelling are good for helping children think more about what you have been talking about. They might make Africa-themed bookmarks, Christmas tree decorations, rockets, animal pictures or something else. Build plenty of choice and decision making into the crafts you prepare so that children can innovate for themselves within the basic template.

Choosing a good venue and publicizing your event are both important. You might try approaching your local library to see if they would be happy to host your session. You might find a friendly local café that would be happy to host. The nicer the venue, the more likely it is that people will come. Cafés are an excellent option because they give the grown-ups a chance to relax and enjoy a cuppa. Put posters up in local schools and nurseries, but do not forget to advertise through social networking media too. Word of mouth is often the most effective way of publicising an event. Ask people to book ahead of time so you know how much craft material to prepare!

Finally, think about whether there are any child protection issues you need to consider. Does the host venue have public liability insurance? Will you allow parents to take photographs of the session? Will you expect parents to stay or leave their children in your care?

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