My daughter is a born storyteller, and has been since she was a toddler. While bedtime reading has been a tradition for years, these last few days I’ve exposed her to new forms of stories, beyond the wonderful short fiction in Spider and Cricket, beyond the fantasies of Disney, Pixar, and Studio Ghibli, beyond J.K. Rowling’s magic and Barbara Davoll’s morals.
First, I began reading Uncle Remus to her, a few stories each night. Julius Lester’s version doesn’t sound like the one I remember my third grade teacher reading to us during story time. So I add the drawl and the dialect I grew up hearing, and it comes out a little more authentic. “Mama, you sound like Gremma!” Yep. These are stories – and voices – I grew up with.
A few days later, I tuned into the Prairie Home Companion as we were driving home from church. Garrison Keillor was spinning a Guy Noir yarn about an opera singer. You might be surprised, but when we pulled in the driveway she objected, “Don’t turn it off!” Hooked. As I had been when I first heard the show as a young adult.
Yesterday, we went to see a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert. A storyteller wove the TSO classic Christmas Eve story, complete with dazzling rock opera interludes. The tale held her attention, but she napped following the tale’s end. Conditioning from bedtime stories, perhaps?
I don’t know if these stories will leave a lasting impression, or where her storytelling will lead her. But I can hope that when, if, she has a child of her own, she’ll remember the stories we’re sharing now, and pass them along.