“When did your storytelling begin?” Our speaker* showed a photo of herself as a little girl. Although I’d never thought of myself as a storyteller, an image of a flannelgraph board popped into my head.
Funny how I’d forgotten about that.
Storytelling for me began with “story-listening.” My first grade teacher told us wonderful tales and let us read whatever we wanted when our work was done. At age eight I read at night under the covers by flashlight. In fourth grade, I checked out from the library the maximum number of books allowed. In junior high I often read while sitting on a branch in our willow tree. In high school I’d flop on my bed with a book and an apple or two. (My poor sister had to put up with apple cores stashed under my bed.)
From Flannelgraph to Drama
Seventh grade was when I started telling flannelgraph stories, usually classics like The Three Bears. My reverence for authors was so deep the thought never occurred to me that ordinary people could become writers. So I continued just telling stories, such as ghost stories like the ones I heard at camp. In the dark I added new twists, the scarier the better.
We loved watching TV westerns. When my mom shooed us outside, we used whatever was available (cardboard boxes, garbage cans, and step stools) to build a stagecoach that we tethered to a wooden bouncy horse. I’d sit in the driver’s seat up top, tugging on the reins, and my brother would tie a bandana over his face and rob the stage. We made up the plot along the way, totally absorbed in our imaginary world. Little did I realize how those hours of playing would compel me years later to write my own stories.
I hope my childhood pastimes have made you recall some formative experiences. If so, I’d love to hear about them. Thanks!
By the way, these days I use a flannelgraph board for telling Bible stories to my grandkids. The plots are unbeatable, not to mention the appreciative audience!
posted on March 10, 2015