Becoming A Talking Book: Celebrating World Book Day
I once had the idea of becoming a Talking Book. At the time I was having enormous difficulty with something I was trying to write. I just couldn’t see how to get it finished. Being a Talking Book would be much easier, I thought. In my fantasy I’d live in a library, the librarians would look after my covers (my clothes) and visitors to the library would have the option of coming over to talk to me about my subject. If they did, I’d be free to steer my conversation in the direction of their particular questions, expanding it or cutting it short as appropriate. Best of all, I’d never have to leave a sentence in such a way that it could not be changed in the future. Visitors might even be allowed to take me home in which case my hand would be stamped at the counter and I’d fervently hope I’d not be neglected or have coffee spilled over me at the breakfast table.
At the time of my fantasy, I’d never really heard of storytelling as a profession. How lucky I was to discover it in the early 1980s when the UK’s storytelling revival was just beginning! It has provided me with the most wonderful and varied work ever since – with young and old, in schools and out of them, in workshops, performance and all kinds of projects.
So after all I did become a kind of Talking Book. And in consequence, over the course of the years, I have learned to value extremely highly the links between oral and written literacy. Engaging children orally through stories and storytelling can give them confidence and enthusiasm for writing and reading. The engagement is very much needed and it starts to happens as soon as they see that the themselves possess that magic thing called imagination.
All this is why it’s always nice to see World Book Day on the horizon. This year as always I note that it provides a spur to schools and nurseries to try and arrange visits from storytellers as well as from authors. It’s refreshing to see such a link being made and celebrated. This year, World Book Day is on March 7th. Please remember to mark it, perhaps even by telling a story.