Telling stories at the library

Kristy Hennings (left), reference librarian at the Vernon library, talks to Gabe Newman about his storytelling workshop on Saturday and the free evening storytelling event March 20 with local professional and new storytellers. - photo submitted
Kristy Hennings (left), reference librarian at the Vernon library, talks to Gabe Newman about his storytelling workshop on Saturday and the free evening storytelling event March 20 with local professional and new storytellers.
— image credit: photo submitted

Once upon a time, a woman who loved words and people had an idea.

“I heard about World Storytelling Day March 20 when people around the world get together and celebrate oral storytelling as a community by sharing stories,” said Kristy Hennings, reference librarian, Vernon Branch, Okanagan Regional Library.

“We are trying to have more literacy-related events and programs that appeal to a wide range of people and I thought we could do something with this.”

She got in touch with storyteller Gabe Newman, a friend from university theatre studies days, and they came up with two free events: a workshop, an introduction to the Art of Storytelling, Saturday, which filled up quickly (there will be another workshop if there is enough interest), and an evening of storytelling March 20 with professional storytellers Newman, Christine Pilgrim and Ken Mather and four new storytellers from the workshop.

Storytellers around the world will be telling stories on this year’s theme, Monsters and Dragons, real and metaphorical.

“We all tell stories all the time. That’s how we talk. We tell the stories of our own lives, it’s how we present ourselves to others. We tell stories to empathize with others, to impress or to entertain informally. But if someone says, ‘tell me a story,’ then people panic,” said Newman, who is well known for his Ghost Tours of Vernon.

“Stories are part of our history, culture and spiritual traditions. Stories were the only way to remember things for thousands of years and stories live on today.”

Stories can be told in groups, families and in individual memory.”

There are stories everywhere.

“Oral storytelling is the earliest form of literacy,” said Hennings. “I feel there is a real interest in storytelling now as a way for people to connect without technology. Of course, technology can be used as a way to get stories to more people but the personal interaction of the form is important.

“We are pleased with the response to the workshop and we hope to see a lot of listeners out to the storytelling evening, which will feature stories that are of interest to adults rather then children. It includes nibbles, by the way. We will do the event again and open it up to more storytellers if people like it. We want the library to be a place where everyone can feel comfortable and find something that interests them.”

Newman’s Art of Storytelling workshop on Saturday runs for two hours and will cover choosing a story, putting it together and presenting it.

“You don’t learn about storytelling unless you actually do it. Everyone has stories to tell and all you need is yourself and your mouth. If people say they have no stories, I ask them about the stories that family and friends might seem to be sick of hearing. That’s a good starting point because it’s something important to the person,” said Newman.

“There are tricks and tools that you can use to present stories and we’ll cover them in the workshop. This is just a starting point. No one can tell a person’s stories as well as they can themselves.”

The storytelling events at the library are sponsored by Vernon Friends of the Library and Storytellers of Canada. The Art of Storytelling Workshop runs Saturday from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. It is free but space is limited so preregistration is necessary. Contact

The storytelling evening, March 20 at 7 p.m. in the magazine section upstairs in the library, is also free to everyone. It takes the place of this month’s Idea Exchange usually held the third Thursday of each month.


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