I felt like I was sitting in my own story while I talked to children about their own Christmas memories of grandparents and special ornaments. The fireplace in Krause Berry’s Farm’s beautiful multi-purpose room is just like the one in my third book! From our cozy spot among blankets on the floor, we looked way up to the mantle above the fireplace and imagined BlueBeary looking down on us just like the illustration on page 7 of A Very BlueBeary Christmas. I noticed how much children like to pause and anticipate what might happen next before turning a page. It was fun listening to them create the story in their own imagination as they told me bits of what they thought would happen next. The children especially enjoyed trying to guess what was in the box full of prickly things that BlueBeary landed in. A little light came on in their eyes when we turned the page and found they had guessed correctly. It seems this fun guessing game helps them begin to understand the flow of a sequence of events in a story and the importance of anticipation in the telling.
Another story in which I’m pausing and anticipating what comes next is the publishing of my next book, A Very BlueBeary Christmas. The designer has finished the layout and we just submitted another round of revisions, so we’re waiting again, eagerly anticipating the day when we are ready to send the book to print and put it in the hands of friends who helped us launch this project through Indiegogo.
What have you been waiting for – wondering and trying to guess what’s next?
Sometimes I forget that characters in my favorite stories are not real. Sadly, I have to admit to myself that Anne of Green Gables was not a real, living friend of mine. She seemed so real to me. In fact, after watching the movie I was deeply disappointed because I had developed such a strong impression of her from the books. I think this is because her story reached out to me with something beyond fact: it reach out with truth.
Anne Shirley was known for her fanciful and outrageous tales. Her teacher told her to write about the things she knew. I believe this to be the best place for children to start. Of course, that does not mean every story is based purely on fact. On the contrary, I support the idea that much truth is found in myths: the stories that we create—sometimes out of fact, sometimes not—to explain our world.
Our stories are most effective when they are spun in such a way as to draw out a deeper truth but we still recognize ourselves in them.
Who is one of your favorite character from a book or movie? What do you love about that character?
Story is one of the most important yet most basic forms of communication. What is the first thing you do when you bump into a friend whom you have not seen in a while? You immediately begin trading stories about the people* you know, the places* you have been, and the things* that have happened to you. You begin to share about what is important to you.
Story is the way we know each other. What we hope when meeting a friend is that their stories reveal that they are well.
Have you had a memorable meeting or reunion with any friends lately? Will you tell us about it in a comment?
- (1) Who did you see? (people)
- (2) Where were you? (places)
- (3) What happened? (things)
“Happy Thanksgiving weekend”
to our American friends!
The world of publication is a tough business to break into and even tougher to be successful. Bookstore shelves are lined with books and publications in print – where the bookstores are still open. Anyone can spin tales on the web through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, newsletters and more.
Why are so many people writing? What I tell children at the schools I visit is true: everyone has a story to tell, inside each of us is a storyteller waiting for a chance to speak. Everyone wants to know and be known.
The goal of BlueBeary and the Open Eyes Books is to teach children how to recognize and value their stories and to learn to tell them well. We want children to discover thoughts and ideas that are meaningful and learn how to share them.
Have you heard any meaningful stories lately? Have you experienced one? Tell us about it.
In our first post we talked about the three main elements of story: people you know, places you go, and things that happen to you. The key, I tell the children, is deciding why the story is important and focusing the people, the places and the events on that idea. Then I walk them through some examples.
The children understand the concept so easily. Last summer at Kraus Berry Farms I met two children. We began talking about this and within 20 minutes we had fleshed out a story for Mother’s Day. We began with people they knew (a Mom who could sew), places they had been (a thorny berry patch) and something that had happened (a torn teddy bear). We talked about what was important about the story and why we should tell it and soon it was finished. But you will just have to wait for that one to come out in print!
It sounds simple, but magic happens when these three elements become all jumbled up in your imagination. It is from that storehouse that we draw our stories.
Have you had a similar magical moment in telling a story? Please share it with us in a comment here.
p.s. The pictures above were taken by Stephanie Strauss Hall of Retrospect Photography. She tells great stories about and with the photos she produces. Read Bluebeary’s photo shoot here.