Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Storytelling—Carolyn R. Wilker

If someone asked me what I liked best when I was a child, it might have been hearing stories. When Mom tucked us in at night, she told us a story—such as Little Red Riding Hood or The Three Bears that she told from memory. Every week at Sunday School, the teacher read a Bible story.

When we girls were a little older, we told those stories or read to our younger siblings. When relatives gathered around the table for a meal, guess what? More stories.

During my Grade 6 year, when I was off school for several weeks on account of illness, my mother knew a good way to occupy my time. She bought three brand new books for me and I sped through them. I had nothing else to do, but read and sleep. Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell, Trixie Belden and the Red Trailer Mystery were done in a matter of days, and having new books of my own was a treasure.

My Grade 8 teacher read to us each day after lunch. I didn’t want to miss any of the adventures, whether it was Tom Sawyer or Swiss Family Robinson, two of the three books he read to us that year.

We had a library in our nearby community. One day Mom said to my sister and me that we could go to the library while she did some errands in town and that we were to be back at the car in ten minutes. I was overwhelmed at the choices and neither of us could not decide on one book in such a short time and so went back to the car without a book, which surprised my mother. We would have needed a library card and we lacked the time to do both. It was as bit disappointing and we didn’t get another opportunity. Farm life was busy; and time was at a premium.

In high school we had our own library in the school, from which I borrowed one book in my first year. I travelled to school by bus, and it was winter; the buses were cancelled because of a blizzard, and though I returned the book immediately after getting off the bus the next day, the librarian still gave me a hard time because the book was one day late. I never borrowed another book from that place.

Later, when I taught preschoolers, I borrowed books from the nearby library to augment our school’s collection and ones that I wanted to read too. That was the real beginning of my love of the library and being a regular patron.

I took my children to the library when they could only toddle across the floor or climb the steps on hands and knees. We borrowed stacks of books each time and read a story at bedtime every night and during the day.
Middle daughter with her book about cats to tease her into reading

My girls are grown. Our eldest is an avid reader, the youngest is studying for a new career, and the middle one reads to her two small children. And I read and tell stories to my granddaughters too.  

Today, after telling stories at the Waterloo Region Museum, to other people’s children, I stopped at the library to pick up a book that I had reserved, and then another. 

On Tuesday this week, a bag of books I have collected and read over the years, minus ones I cannot part with or need to keep, will go to a new home—the Ronald McDonald House—so that parents, having a sick child and time on their hands, might pick up a book for pleasure and enjoy it themselves or read to their child. It’s a small thing I can do to help them and share the pleasures of a good story.

Once Upon a Sandbox, Hidden Brook Press


Glynis said...

And look at you now! Books consume your life! What a lovely progression of your years and a great idea for passing on books. Nice Post, Carolyn.

Donna Mann said...

Thanks for spot-on storytelling, Carolyn - I'm privileged to know you as you've enriched my life.

Peter Black said...

I agree with the ladies, Carolyn.
You're a clear example of: From childhood story lover, to effective and well-loved adult story teller.
We know you'll keep up the good work! :) ~~+~~

David Kitz said...

A love for stories and storytelling has marked my life too. Nothing has the power to change a life like a well-told story. That's why the gospel story resonates so deeply with us. Thanks for sharing your story, Carolyn.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

A belated thank you, Glynis, Donna, Peter and David for your kind comments.
It's been such a month of storytelling in March. And yes, they do touch us deeply.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Actually, the bag of books turned into two bags and for anyone else who might want to share a bit of their library, Ronald McDonald House in Hamilton was most grateful for them.

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