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National Storytelling Week ‘poorly promoted’

Posted on - 5th February, 2011 - 11:55am | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Campaigns, People

Children's author Narinder Dhami

Britain may be celebrating National Storytelling Week – but Preston is lagging behind.

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The Harris Library has struggled to get an audience for its “story time” group, which runs twice a week for under-fives.

Narinder Dhami, who won Lancashire Children’s Book of the Year 2010, said it was “terrible” the Harris Library had not been able to get a better audience.

“I know libraries are under pressure,” said Ms Dhami, whose tale Bang, Bang, You’re Dead! beat 83 other children’s books to win the regional title. “I think it’s important that they publicise everything they do. They need our support – otherwise a lot of them are going to be closed.”

Del Reid, who founded National Storytelling Week 11 years ago, said: “The aim of National Storytelling Week was to get teachers
communicating stories.” He added: “You tell stories hoping that, in
telling, you might change the world.”

The Society for Storytelling, which organises the week, produces packs for teachers in the run up to February. Storytellers can register regional events through the Society for Storytelling website.

Mr Reid added: “Teachers have got these forms and they don’t do their homework.”

“The story time has gone a bit quiet,” said Janet McLarney, a library assistant who had planned to take the session on Friday – only to find no one had turned up. Her colleague Catherine Carruthers said storytelling was “not quite so popular” as groups for younger children, or colouring activities.

Mike Halewood, who runs the Halewood and Sons bookshop on Friargate, said National Storytelling Week needed more publicity. “It’s not been well promoted,” he said. “I’ve not had any leaflets or posters, and I haven’t seen anything in the press.

“To my mind, the promotion of reading is something that’s got to be instilled into children at a young age. We need more young people being brought up to read books.”

Mike Halewood, owner of Halewood & Sons bookshop

Mr Halewood said he agreed teachers had a responsibility to introduce children to the power of stories. “It’s up to the parents and schoolteachers, or children will bypass that age and go straight onto videogames and computers,” he said.

Ms Dhami said storytelling was very important for people’s sense of tradition. “People were telling stories before they could write them down,” she said. “You feel like you are part of something that went before you and will carry on after you are gone.”

Ms Carruthers said the library’s storytelling events had always been successful with travelling communities. “They have a long tradition of storytelling,” she said.

“Perhaps some children who come in aren’t read to at home,” she added. “If you don’t encourage children to come in from a small age, they’ve already got a barrier.”

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