Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Friday 1 November 2019

Storytellers: Yes, that’s you!

Inspired by her involvement in the CBCA Tasmania’s Tasmanian Authors & Illustrators in Schools program, Christina Booth prompts us all to seek the inner storyteller within us all. It is little wonder that her school visits are inspirational!

How wonderful to hear of the funding awarded to CBCA Tasmania branch to assist schools hosting authors (illustrators are authors too) for workshops and visits across the state. This is such a great opportunity, especially for those schools who have never experienced a school visit before.

Once you have had an author visit your school, you will be hooked. The difference in how your students approach writing and reading and visual narrative is immediately obvious, and it also inspires the entire school community for a long time.

It is like going on your first cruise (so I am told, not having been on one): you will become addicted because of the outstanding positive benefits across the whole school community.

I am very excited to have been one of the many authors visiting schools since early July. I gain greatly from these visits too. Being a cave dwelling creator, it is always good for the creative soul to get out into the daylight and be replenished by meeting your audience and sharing and inspiring writers and readers of all ages. One of the things I love is hearing stories from others and discussing the stories I have created.

This year, one of my focuses and passions has been to talk to students of all ages about storytelling. Not just in books, but how important it is to our families, communities and society.

Are you a storyteller?
This is where I start when talking about storytelling. Because in an era when we tend to sit and wait for others to do things for us to enjoy and experience, we often fail at seeing ourselves as storytellers. 

Everyone is a storyteller.
We talk about the importance of stories, what we gain from them, how they help us to learn about our world, ourselves and each other. We share a great list of ways we can tell stories, including books, and how every day we add to our own story by hearing other people’s stories as well.

Are you a story collector?
The collection of stories is so important. We can’t begin to be good storytellers if we can’t collect stories. We need to collect them from what we see and hear, what makes us sad and happy and everything in between. We collect stories so they stay alive, because stories are alive. Everyone is a story collector.

We are story keepers.
In order to be a good storyteller and a story collector, we must be story keepers. The protectors of stories, our own and those entrusted to us. We are all story keepers.

This all sounds like a lot of hard work!
It can sound a bit overwhelming to know that we are and need to be these things. In fact, it sounds a lot like a scene from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. The good news is that it isn’t. When we realise that we are these things, nothing changes except our awareness of our role, our abilities and that we need to be aware of them and practice them. As we sit back and watch and read and listen to the stories of others, we have become a society that has forgotten our own role in this important part of our humanity.
*** Stories glue us together.
*** Stories help us not to repeat the same mistakes.
*** Stories help us to learn in a safe environment.
*** Stories help us to grow into a person with a voice.
*** Storytelling keeps stories alive through the generations.

Letting children and reminding the adults in the room that this is our role, in whatever format we can, I begin to open doors to confident storytelling and believing in what we do. This is what I try to show in my workshops and presentations at schools.

I am about to embark on an exciting month in a public Hobart primary school, funded fully by their P&F fundraising, as an artist in residence. We are focusing on these elements and growing our skills, the whole school community, not just the students, in order to create stories in different formats. For three days a week I will work alongside the students, parents and staff to create our stories, be they a picture book, a short story, a newspaper or magazine story, a visual narrative or an oral presentation.

We will all be
*** Story collectors,
*** Story keepers and ultimately,
*** Storytellers.
I wish you all well as you do the same.
Trust yourselves, make amazing discoveries and celebrate this amazing part of our humanity.

Christina Booth
Story collector, keeper and teller in her talks to readers and within her extraordinary picture books.


  1. We held the CBCA Tas AGM today. This post fits beautifully with the discussions held at the Book Week Grant Committee meeting which followed the AGM. We discussed the need for providing children with the opportunity to see themselves as creators of stories, and not just passive receivers. As the guest speaker at the AGM Daniel Gray-Barnett shared his journey from being an 11 year old wanting to be a writer...and then after a few other careers...now having come to that career. Perfect post for today!

  2. Christina is a popular presenter with the capacity to inspire students and adults alike. She encourages students to continue to explore possibilities and see themselves as capable of creating stories that begin from within and reflect who they are. Thanks Christina for your expertise and generosity.