YISS Welcomes Storyteller Margaret Read MacDonald

By Subin (Amy) DeGroat Apr 17, 2017

Elementary students were treated to numerous folktales from around the world, as told by professional storyteller Margaret Read MacDonald. Her stories included plenty of audience participation with hand motions and choral responses that maximized engagement for all. Four students from the second and third grade session became improv actors as they portrayed fairies helping an old lady with the housework she hated in a folktale from Ireland called Too Many Fairies. During the kindergarten and first grade session, Mr. Adams was asked to play the part of a man selling and trading animals to a lonely woman who came to the market in the story Teeny Weeny Bop that originated in Great Britain. Ms. MacDonald was most excited to tell the Tale of the Monkey King from China since it is one of her favorites that she does not get a chance to tell often. Thankfully fourth graders study China, so it was a fun way to support the students' learning. She also shared Pickin' Peas, a story first written down over a hundred years ago in Alabama, connecting with the fifth graders' study of early American history.

Ms. MacDonald also shared with over 60 middle school students who attended a storytelling workshop. She gave them tips on how to tell and act out stories. They practiced telling and retelling a story from Nigeria called The Monkey and the Rabbit using actions and different voices.

After telling stories together, students were given a sneak preview of a dummy copy of Ms. MacDonald's next book. They learned that Ms. MacDonald tells stories many times to get the words just right. Even after she writes a story down, her editor still sends her suggestions for improvement. In addition, collaborating with the illustrator takes a lot of communication and time. Although it requires more than a year to get a book published, the hard work is worth it since writing the stories down allows generations to come to read and remember stories from around the world.

At the end of each session, Ms. MacDonald autographed copies of her books that students had purchased. Our YISS students were grateful for the opportunity they had with the support of the YISS PTO.

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