I'm reading the book Captains Courageous
right now. I picked it for two reasons. One, I was standing in front of the bookshelf outside the bathroom (Yes, outside the bathroom. We are overrun by books in this house.) at ten o'clock at night having just finished with one book and desperate for another before-bed read. Two, my grandmother loved Rudyard Kipling. So obviously, I want to love Rudyard Kipling, too.
If you haven't read the book, the cliff notes are that a very privileged boy who has never raised a finger in work his entire life is thrown from an ocean-liner and picked up by a boat of fisherman. In the middle of their fishing season, there is no way they'll turn around to take him back to America, where he was headed. So he is put to work on their boat, a completely foreign concept to him. The book is about this boy discovering the self-respect that comes with work and being part of something, of earning his keep and contributing to something bigger than himself.
But woven into the book is the art of storytelling. Months at sea, on a small fishing boat with a handful of other men, storytelling becomes their entertainment, their way to unwind. The men sit around in the evenings taking turns–one tells stories of the war, another of his farming life back home, another of his haunted experiences at sea. Even this boy, Harvey, weaves elaborate stories of his own, of the privileged life, of magic and money and extravagances these simple fisherman can't even fathom.
Since being given the chance to preview Emily Neurberger's book Show Me a Story
, several months ago, I've been more attuned to the art of storytelling–in these fisherman in Captains Courageous who lock into the words of a story and find themselves lost inside the storyteller's words. As a mother, whose children beg over and over for that story from my childhood about my lamb that was injured before my first show. As a witness to the stories my children escape into in the midst of play.
Storytelling is a creative, imaginative and important part of our lives. Not only is it a way to entertain or to pass down stories from our personal history, it is a way for us and for our children to exercise our creative muscles.
Emily Neuburger has a passion for storytelling. Not only that, she's passionate about giving children ways to spark their creative storytelling abilities. I'm sure we've all experienced it–oftentimes the hardest part of writing or telling any story is determining where to start. "But I don't know what to write about…" is a constant refrain from my children.
But Emily's book Show Me A Story is page upon page of ways to jumpstart a child's storytelling and writing. Our copy has been floating around my house for weeks, most often in the hands of my ten year old. She's been inspired by it, by the ideas and activities on the pages. It's not rare for me to hear, "Where's the modpodge? Do we have any cardboard in the recycling bin? Can I have that canning jar? Where's the felt?" all inspired by the projects she finds on the pages of Emily's book.
Show Me A Story is all about helping children create the framework for a story. For inventing characters and plots and conflicts and settings for stories to take place. Her ideas are simple, frugal (chances are you already have everything you need), beautifully photographed and described. They are projects that jumpstart a child's creativity, embracing the imagination that is already there, but sometimes just needs to be awakened.
There are a lot of books that pass by my desk, but Emily's has been one of the most accessible. It has been one that has been snatched up and inspired an immediate need to create. To me, that is a sure sign of a well-written book.
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I'm so happy that Emily and Storey Publishing have graciously given me the chance to give away a copy of Show Me a Story
to my readers. Simply leave a comment on this post and you'll be entered. I'll select one random winner on Friday.