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Kid's Storytelling Festival (ALA Midwinter Pitch)

At the 2018 American Library Association Meeting in Denver, Colorado, the libraries chapter of the Awesome Foundation hosted its first ever Awesome Ideas Pitch for Libraries. Eight librarians from around the country were chosen to pitch short, inspiring ideas that could impact their community, demonstrate a new idea, or improve a tool or service.

A panel of judges, comprised of chapter trustees, chose Kid’s Storytelling Festival by Christian Zabriskie from Yonkers Public Library as the winning pitch.

Stories have impact for the individual telling them, the people who are hearing them, and the community they are all a part of. With the popularity of Story Corp and Moth Radio Hour people are becoming increasingly aware of the power inherent in storytelling. Kid’s Storytelling Festival wants to extend that to the youngest members of the Yonkers community.

As Christian articulated during his pitch, kids have a unique perspective on the world they are in and have great observations, connections, and stories to tell. While lots of libraries offer variations of storytelling and oral history, Christian could not find any that focus on the youngest members of their community. This Festival is an opportunity to have a different twist on Storytime in the Library with the kids as the tellers of stories and the adults listening to what they have to say and recording it for future consideration.

Kid’s Storytelling Festival will take place in the Yonkers Public Library's 300-seat auditorium and include performances, workshops, training on their recording equipment and plenty of food to keep the young storytellers going. Funding will cover costs for presenters, giveaways, print materials, and food. This inaugural activity is is designed to help Yonkers Public Library develop a child-centered community of practice around storytelling and oral history.

What our grantee has to say:

“At YPL we believe that kids have agency and power. We want to hear what they have to say and we want to know what they are seeing in the community around them. Children are incredibly observant, make extraordinary connections, and are often really really funny. We want to know what the youngest people in our community have to say and we want to get their perspectives on what it means to be part of our city. They have a perspective on history and society and we want to capture that. We will be working in partnership with students and faculty from Sarah Lawrence College on this grant as well as the local schools for community buy in across our city.”

What our judges have to say:

“The way children experience the world is very different from the way that adults reflect on the world they have experienced and the Kids Storytelling Project highlights this very fact.  This project flips the script of archival work in libraries in a novel manner, ensuring that the stories of children are recorded for posterity, which in turn empowers them as storytellers themselves.”

Funded by Libraries (February 2018)