Thursday, May 21, 2015

Brush up on your performance skills, authors.

One of  my favourite storytellers,
A-dZiko Simba Gegele
(copied from her facebook page)

This month, authors have been reading in schools across the island for Child Month and Reading Week and other occasions. It is always pleasant and highly rewarding to read for the young ones, especially if you can get them actively involved in the story. But it can be fraught with frustrations if you are not adequately prepared. Here are a few things to remember.

    Preparations should include careful selection of the passage to be read. The chosen passage should make sense standing by itself.

    It needs to have action/be exciting - preferably a passage that can be animated by you, the reader, or one which allows you to choose actors from the audience to demonstrate your action. This is especially important for the younger ones with short attention span.

   When reading one needs to change voices and dramatize the passage, even for the older ones.

   Here's an odd thing, in a school setting, reading from a book seems quite acceptable. While in school the children will accept a more passive situation, but at other locations like a book fair or other more open situation, they expect performance. They expect to be entertained and one had better be a good storyteller to hold their interest.

   This was demonstrated at a festival I attended a few years ago. The storytellers were put on first and they entertained with song and dance and got the children actively involved in the stories in different ways  - all without  using a book. Story telling at its best. Even the adults were totally involved.

   Next came the authors reading from their books and very few of the children were interested. Many  wandered off to the booths outside. It must have been very frustrating for the authors. I am glad I wasn't one of the authors asked to read on that occasion

  It's pure joy when you can combine the expertise of storytelling with that of being the author of a book you would like the children to read.

Brush up on your performance skills, authors.
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