Sharing the love of storytelling with local students, Spellbinders kicks off Monday |

Sharing the love of storytelling with local students, Spellbinders kicks off Monday

Mike Forney visits Anna White's fifth grade class at Strawberry Park Elementary.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Bringing age-old traditions to the community, Spellbinders will kickoff Monday.

Dedicated to restoring the art of oral storytelling to connect elders and youth through folk stories, Spellbinders is a national organization with a Steamboat Springs Chapter of volunteer storytellers who share the wisdom of cultures to a handful of classes at Strawberry Park Elementary and Soda Creek Elementary.

“It’s sharing the love of stories and cultures – there’s really nothing else like it in town,” said Sarah Kostin, head of the Youth Services Department and Steamboat Spellbinders chapter library liaison. “You can tell your own stories, but the workshop trains people to tell folk tales.”

To become a Spellbinder, interested volunteers must attend a three day Spellbinders Workshop Series led by trained and certified storytellers. The workshop will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Aug. 28, meeting in the Teen Project Room on the first floor.

“Students and teachers love the program, and we always need new tellers,” Kostin said.

Trained Spellbinder volunteers will be assigned a local elementary classroom to visit once per month for a minimum of six visits during the course of the school year. Teachers are also welcome to attend this training. This volunteer opportunity consists of eight to 10 hours per month reading, learning and telling stories.

“If you love kids, this is such a fun way to connect humor and these interactive stories so that the kids are part of it, as well,” Kostin said.

According to the local chapter’s origins found on its website, the National Spellbinders was founded in Aspen 25 years ago by Germaine Dietsch with the goal of reconnecting generations. Then, in 2008, Currie Meyer founded the Steamboat Spellbinders which is led by Sherry Holland.

The library also has a section dedicated to a book collection of folktale stories with classics like “The Little Red Hen” or “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Many of these stories, Kostin said, are simplified version of multicultural oral tales passed down from different cultures.

“It’s similar to an acting class, in a way,” Kostin said. “They tell the stories in their own words. It’s not so much memorization but is more like interpretation of the stories.”

The training workshops involve working on selecting stories as well as improv acting games that get the volunteers comfortable and practice on voice-changing and taking on different characters.

“It gives kids a chance to create their own picture of the story using different parts of their brain and imagination,” Kostin said. “And, it creates a cool connection between students and the tellers.”

Hosted by the library, the Spellbinders Training Workshop is only offered once per year. The cost is $40 which includes a name badge, a background check and snacks.

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