As a blogger, I get many books sent to me to review, and just when I think I've seen the best of the best, one comes along that deserves some applause. Show Me A Story: 40 Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children's Storytelling by Emily Neuburger of Red Bird Crafts is currently that book for me. I was immediately taken by not only the idea of incorporating craft into how children learn to read, write, and expand their imaginative storytelling skills, but the book itself is clearly written, well-designed, full of beautiful color pages, and lots of unique projects. I asked Emily if she would answer a few questions about Show Me A Story for us and she graciously did!
Blair: Thank you so much for talking about your book with us, its such a beautiful book to read and share. And I, of course, being the inquisitive type, have questions! First of all, where was your book when my kids were little? Seriously! To ad lib a story and just see where it takes us was always one of the hardest parts for me when my kids were smaller and we spent so much of our days together. For the moms like me, who see the value in storytelling but have a hard time feeling spontaneous about it, which project in the book would be a good one to start with?
Emily: Oh, you’re very kind! Thank you for welcoming me to wise craft today. You’re not alone in feeling stuck when it comes to spontaneous storytelling. This is why I’m a big believer in finding backdoor entrances into stories. Found objects, memories, handmade crafts, and word play encourage storytelling in a highly imaginative, no-pressure, experimental way. In the book, I remind parents and children not to feel pressured to find tidy endings for their stories -- the rich characters and imaginative plot development are often enough. The Story Map project is a captivating and engaging way to enter a story. As children create the imaginary land with its diverse topography, cities, agriculture, and magical spots, they’ve developed the backbone for unlimited story possibilities.
Blair: My absolute favorite project is the Storytelling Jar (although it was hard to pick just one). I could actually see my teenage daughter making her own version of this project. Can you explain a little about how that project evolved and took shape?
Emily: Oh, I’d love to see your daughter’s interpretation! Honestly, the Storytelling Jar idea was born from my love for teeny tiny things. As a child, I was fascinated by dollhouses and tiny figures. I developed the idea for the project during a time when I was interested in terrariums. One day, it just hit me that it would be really cool to create a microcosm in jar – a story terrarium! This is one of the projects where most of the storytelling happens during the process of making the craft. And, hey, I had the best time making mine, which makes me think that children of all ages would have fun with it.
Blair: There are several projects in the book that would be perfect for a group of children. Which one(s) would be your favorite pick for kid's birthday party activities or sleepovers?
Emily: Yes! In fact, in the book I mention that group storytelling can feel magical and inspiring for children. It helps them cultivate friendships and appreciate each other’s ideas. In my experience as a teacher, it often leads to laughter, camaraderie, and excitement! I love to watch children work together with a mutual desire to make an awesome story. I also note that it can feel challenging for some because it often requires giving up control of the story’s trajectory. Learning to share their creative experiences and to find genuine joy in building something together is a great way for children and teens to build community. Story Ping Pong, Truth or Tale, Timing is Everything, and Story Grab Bag would all make great birthday party and/or sleepover activities!
Blair: "These Are The Stories in my Neighborhood" project is also quite fantastic and yet so simple. That project actually inspired me to create some of my own foam sheet stamps for my sketchbook journal. I'm curious which project in the book is your all-time favorite? Your girls' favorite?
Emily: You and I think alike, Blair. I love the technique behind These are The Stories in My Neighborhood, and use it often in my creative work. The children in my classes have used the technique to create characters for their stories.
I also love making Story Disks! Again, the teeny tiny aspect speaks to my heart. I find that when I make them in a stream-of-conscious sort of way, lots of interesting ideas float through my mind and stories unfold.
My children love to make Story Stones. It is a super satisfying project that works for people of all ages. My younger daughter, Hazel, is just beginning to make representational images on her stones, and my older daughter, Leah, is coming up with her own unique interpretations. Recently, Leah made an apple pie Story Stone set where each stone was a different ingredient. She used the stones to tell me the story of How to Bake an Apple Pie, which ended up being a fantastical, funny adventure where each ingredient ended up with a unique personality and motive. This is the kind of thing that makes my heart soar.
Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us Emily!
I have one copy of Show Me a Story to giveaway! Just leave a comment on this post. I will keep the giveaway open over the weekend and randomly choose one winner on Sunday. (Disclaimer- This giveaway is for US only). Click over the Story Publishing's blog to see all the blog participants in the blog tour and read more about this wonderful book.
Thanks to all who enter, and good luck!
10/15/12- Giveaway has ended and winner has been chosen. Thank you to all who entered!