By Simon Brooks
As a storyteller I travel to many different schools and colleges, libraries, birthday parties, summer camps, business retreats, and private events. As a result I see a great many people from all walks of life, especially younger people. I have seen and performed for both the rich and economically challenged and learned that people are people, and there are good and bad no matter what your demographic is.
Working with children you see that good and bad is something children learn, mostly through the actions of the adults around them. They are sponges. What you hear your child saying most likely came from you! I learned a long time ago to put myself in timeout for inappropriate behavior in my kids – when they were really young – and not them. They had learned it from me!
Working with CLiF over the summer has taken me to places with mixed demographics, at-risk communities, low income areas, and I am never disappointed with the behavior of the kids (adults might be different)!
There is something humbling about going into a venue and being greeted with smiles, even on hot, humid days where the kids want to be in a pool or eating ice cream, not in a stuffy multipurpose room or library, sans A/C! To be able to lift their smiles a little higher, and in areas where the kids have many challenges, to lift their spirit with stories, is a wonderful gift and is the best job. To be able to do this and then present a room full of books and to tell these young people they can take not one, but two books home with them is amazing – the Best Job Ever!
I grew up in a house with books. We were not rich, but we did have books and visited the library frequently. All I do is show up with a car full of books, set everything up in the room and in walk the kids. I tell stories then give the books away on behalf of CLiF. A lot of the kids I take the books to, do NOT live in homes where there is good literacy material. Even after going to a community for nine years once a year, I still get young folks asking me when the books have to be returned, or the children try to hand books back to me thinking they were to read them right there and then. It breaks my heart when I hear this. But to be the person who delivers this boy, or this girl their first, very own book is an incredible treat. To get to excite young minds with story and into reading, is marvelous.
One of my favorite parts of a presentation is watching the kids reading the books, swapping them with their friends, sharing their favorite parts, or pictures. That and the gratitude – genuine, deep gratitude – of some of the parents.
For a delivery boy, I have a pretty cool job and to be associated with CLiF is pretty inspiring!
Simon Brooks is a storyteller who began spinning yarns in 1991 for school groups and families at youth hostels in the United Kingdom. In 2003 Simon became a children’s librarian and freelance storyteller in the Upper Valley. Simon likes to investigate, educate & fascinate with story, and he has recorded 3 award winning storytelling CDs and numerous audio books. He is also a published writer, poet and photographer. He has performed for libraries, schools, festivals, and private functions. Simon combines his passion for children’s literature and folklore to create fun programs for both children and adults.
Visit him at http://www.diamondscree.com/