Before we started our stories yesterday, I asked if anyone remembered what I told them a year ago. A ten year old girl replied, “I don’t remember, but there was a platypus who was different from the other animals and the animals didn’t get along with each other at first, but then it changed in the end.” She remembered an Australian aboriginal dreamtime myth I told twelve months ago!
A seven year old boy listened as she practically told the whole story verbatim, then said, “Yeah, I remember that one too, but I remember, I was the man in the story with the bundle of cloth on my head and it talked and then I threw it down, screamed and ran down the road. Remember me?” That was ‘Talk,’ the humours West African folk tale that I have kids help dramatize as I tell.
It never ceases to amaze me how well kids remember the stories I tell. Most of my stories are obscure, practically forgotten tales from long ago, that most children have never heard before. For kids to be able to recall the characters and plots from only hearing it once, astonishes me, over and over again. It shows how powerful the art of storytelling is and how brilliantly these old tales shine in the imagination.
I always ask groups that I’ve seen before to tell me what they recall, just for my own delight and to remind myself that the arts are an essential profession.