When doing the research for my interview with Chris King, I came across Sally’s site. I found it fascinating and decided to ask her if she would consent to an interview. I received a very prompt reply agreeing to the interview and without further ado, I have great pleasure in introducing to you, Sally Crandall…
Aneeta: Sally, as usual, before I get into the kind of work you do, please tell me a little about what you do.
Sally: I live in Columbus, Ohio….right near downtown in a section called German Village. Our house was built in 1913 and only had two owners, besides us, in all that time. My husband and I have two daughters, and we moved here after living eighteen years in the country on forty acres. I grew up near New York City and like this urban neighborhood, but my husband still thinks he might like the country. Both our daughters are grown. One lives very close. That means I can bike over and have lunch with her. The other daughter lives about twenty minutes by car. That means I can drive over and have lunch with her and one of our two grandsons. I was a school librarian for more years than I can count, but when I started telling stories to the children as part of my job, I found that I wanted to do it all the time. I quit my job to be a full time storyteller.
Aneeta: How did you become interested in storytelling?
Sally: Just when I was a new librarian, I persuaded my principal to let me go to the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tennessee. She let me count it as a professional day, and off I went. I sat in the enormous tent on a cold, hard, metal chair and listened to Syd Lieberman. I forgot the chair, the people around me. I only watched Syd and heard the story. That’s the way it was for two days for storyteller after storyteller. When I left the festival, I knew I wanted to incorporate storytelling into my job at school. I saw all the children once a week, so I set myself the task of learning and telling a new story once a week. Being the librarian was the best job for telling stories because I could tell the same story over and over and watch it get better each time.
Aneeta: Please, describe the kind of people you work with.
Sally: The jobs I get are mostly with elementary schools. I love to go to middle schools, but most often I tell stories to kids from five years old to nine. I always try to arrive an hour early so that I can listen to the school and hang out in the library and talk to a few teachers. Doing that, gives me a feel for how the day is going and how the kids, parents and teachers get along. I always send a teacher’s guide to the school before I arrive so that teachers know what storytelling is and that I do welcome participation from the audience. I try to structure each program to include some real listening, some active participation opportunities and some laughing. The first story I tell is one that lets the kids get to know me. The second is usually a longer listening piece. Often I follow that with a string story because it changes the pace. After that I’ll tell a story that lets children get up and move around. Following that might be another listening story. The last story is one for laughing and joining in.
Aneeta: I understand you run several programs. Can you please describe these for me?
Sally: I offer several programs on my website www.sallycrandall.com. Shoestring Stories is a general program that lets me match stories to a variety of needs and ages. It includes folktales, personal stories and historical stories. Over the Back Yard Fence is a group of stories about Ohio. In this program are several historical stories, some Wyandot Native American stories and a couple of stories about me living in German Village. Tales For Little Ones is a program directed at preschool and kindergarten. This program includes stories designed for little people’s ears. Singing, joining in, laughing and some good listening are all part of the performance.
During most of my performances, I will include a string story and a little talk about making string figures. I love string figures because they cross so many cultures and because the making of them is so beautiful. I offer a workshop in which kids from fourth grade up can focus on hearing several stories they didn’t get in my school performance plus they can learn two new string figures to take home and share.
Last winter I attended a two-day workshop sponsored by the Kennedy Center on creating residencies. The residency plan I created is called Storytelling and Writing in the Kindergarten Classroom. It’s a five-day residency aimed at learning a core story to tell to another class. We do writing as we explore the story.
Aneeta: As you may know, this website caters for storytellers from Asia and Africa. What advice would you give storytellers?
Sally: I would love to travel and tell stories in the countries where your readers live. If anyone has a question, I would be happy to answer it via e-mail. Sally@sallycrandall.com. There are so many good books about storytelling and so much available on the web. I would advise your readers to follow their hearts and tell their stories.
Aneeta: Thank you very much. For the sake of completeness, can you please state your contact details?
Aneeta: Thank you, Sally, once again.
This piece may NOT be freely reprinted. Please contact editor @ howtotellagreatstory.com for reprint rights.