Featuring Priscilla Howe

Every month (September-May), librarians in my area unite to share ideas for “Lincoln Story League”. It’s great fun!

This month, I told a favorite story from a favorite storyteller, Priscilla Howe. “Chickens!” is about a pack of siblings who go off to explore an old barn. They take turns testing their bravery and going inside alone. In the barn, there are chickens… with money in their beaks. And a ghost who warns, “I’m the ghost of Charles Dickens, leave the money with the chickens!” The big sister and the big brother freak out and run away… but not the baby. Find out how the baby scares the ghost away!

Watch Priscilla tell this story here.
Purchase her cd Chickens! and Other Stories for Young Children here.

Her other cds include The Ghost with the One Black Eye and The Best (and Worst) of Beasts.
She also has two dvds, The Itsy Bitsy Tiger and Other Ridiculous Stories and Songs and The Bully Billy Goat and Other Stories.

Featuring Heather Forest

Yesterday, I got to go out and play with other librarians at a story-swap meeting (Lincoln Story League)!!!

There, I shared my love of musical storyteller Heather Forest. I plugged two of her wonderful cds, Sing Me a Story and Tales Around the Hearth as well as her picture book version of The Little Red Hen. These cds (as well as mp3s of individual stories from the collections) are available from such sites as CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon.

I’ve adopted catchy musical refrains from her versions of The Mitten, The Turnip and The Little Red Hen into my own storytelling at the library. Adding these refrains is a great way to perk up the presentation and to get the kids singing along.

I also talked a little about how I tell The Little Red Hen. In addition to using Heather Forest’s singing refrain (“If you want some cake to eat, who will help me plant this wheat, etc.?”), I often use audience participation in the form of choosing some kids to work puppets or wear special headbands to act out the parts of the dog, the cat and the mouse. I wear a crazy chicken hat and act as the little red hen. Everyone else gets to be my little chicks. So, when the dog, the cat, and the mouse all say “Not I”, I ask my little chicks if they will help me. They all nod and agree, and we act out planting the seeds, harvesting the wheat, etc. And, of course, the little red hen and her chicks all get to mime eating delicious cake at the end! For my youngest audiences, I usually use flannels and visual cards to tell the story. I still have the kids be chicks, but I don’t select anyone to be a specific part.

The Little Red Hen was a part of a chicken folktale program that I geared for a K-3rd grade audience (and their families). I also used it in my storytime best practices presentation for the California Library Association Conference in 2009. (Please note my email address and blog URL have changed since then.) For that presentation, I also included a template for a fun chicken craft. Other chicken storytimes I’ve done can be found here, here, and here. (Can you tell it is one of my favorite themes?)