Telling Tales

One of the highlights of the Hong Kong Writers’ Festival was meeting the amazing Singaporean story-teller, Rosemarie Somaiah
Rosemarie and I shared a few sessions at the Central Library. I spent the first half-hour of our session talking about writing and she took the stage for the second half and told the kids a range of stories from different countries and traditions. It really brought home to me the simple power of a well-told story.

The picture on the left is of my christmas present from my stepson, Theo. He has a knack of finding very funky old children’s books in second hand bookshops. I love them. I pulled this one off the shelf again after I met Rosemarie. Sara Bryant, the author, wrote this book in 1910 though my copy is a reprint from 1934. It’s a bit sad that with the rise of the children’s book, the simple art of telling stories to children has lapsed. It’s interesting to compare the difference between the written story and the spoken story. The best children’s books work like magic when read out loud but sometimes it’s great to hear a story without being confined to looking at little black markings on a page.

Rosemarie told me that in Singapore she has told her stories to audiences of thousands of children. She’s a member of a group called the Asian Storytelling network who are intent on reviving the art of story-telling. More power to them.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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