National Share-A-Story Month (NSSM) in May is an annual celebration of the power of storytelling and story sharing, providing a fantastic opportunity to fulfil the core aim of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups of bringing children and stories together. Across the country, Federation book groups and individuals run a whole host of events. Each year they are inspired by a specific theme and work with different organisations to provide people with resources and opportunities.
Storytelling is a fun, highly interactive and creative activity which helps to support children’s learning, raise their attainment and brings literacy to life.
The theme this year is ‘Picture a Story’ which encourages children to enjoy and celebrate illustrations in books.
Illustrations or images can be powerful tools to help tell a story and National Share a Story Month wish to encourage children to tell stories through sketches, drawings and illustrations to help with their creative writing skills.
Storytelling has been proven beneficial to all ages. It is fun and engaging to tell stories to children in an entertaining and animated way as it builds on their imagination, supports their literacy skills and ultimately aids their learning. It is also beneficial to involve older children and young people by encouraging them to read their favourites to younger children at home or at school.
So why not get involved with National Share a Story Month and support your children by encouraging them to bring their favourite stories to life.
As part of the occasion I met up with professional storyteller, Jane Bingham, who has entertained many with her tales of past events in historical locations.
In keeping with the National Trust’s mission of reflecting the ‘spirit of place’, Jane Bingham read three short stories set in Hidcote Manor Garden in Gloucester, set during the 1920s.
Jane writes for children, teenagers and adults. She is the author of over 180 books and specializes in history, biography and art. Her publishers include Usborne, Ladybird, Oxford University Press, Harper Collins, Hodder, Watts and Heinemann, and she creates digital content for the BBC.
Most of Jane’s writing is for young people. Her gentle expressive speech is perfect for the reading aloud of her stories to enthrall her audience, and weave wonderful tales of life in bygone times enacted in the gardens and grandeur of country houses.
Jane’s historical research has provided a starting point for imaginative stories based on real people and places.
Her stories feature characters such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel, James Barrie and the Mitford sisters, and she has given readings in the places that inspired her.
Travelling tellers of tales
Oral storytelling is an ancient art and in the days before printed books and general literacy, most stories came to the populace by way of listening. The majority of tales were from the Bible and heard in church.
Folk tales and legends were passed on through troubadours and minstrels who were the main entertainers in mediaeval times and travelled to towns and villages sharing stories of magic, mystery and fear.
In modern times there are still people who narrate in pubs and inns and even festivals where ancient tales are passed on. We may have access to various forms of reading but the sharing of a story is something special, especially to a child.