Pajama Night Delight

December 13, 2009 at 9:17 am Leave a comment

Family Reading Night. In the gym. Pajama Night Delight – wear pajamas and slippers and bring a blanket and pillow too.

That’s bad.

Temperatures below zero. Reading teacher and librarian decide it might be too cold to have the kids wear pajamas. Besides, sometimes kids go crazy when you let them wear pajamas to school. Reading teacher and librarian decide the title is good but change their minds regarding pajamas; the pajamas will be worn at home – not school.

That’s good.

Reading teacher and librarian decide instead of pajamas, however, they will offer cookies and hot chocolate as the families enter the gym.

That’s bad.

Storyteller arrives. Storyteller quickly realizes much has changed since last phone conversation with clients. Storyteller suggests families be given time to enjoy cookies and hot chocolate, trash collected, families settle, stories begin. Storyteller likes audience to join in with stories – two hands required. Reading teacher and librarian welcome families with that announcement.

That’s good.

Kids on floor. Parents in chairs. Hot chocolate spilling, cookie crumbs falling, Projectiles in the shape of balls, same color as napkins, beginning to fly. Storyteller has flashback to most recent Family Reading Night.

That’s bad.

Reading teacher and librarian announce stories are about to begin; time to throw trash away, find a good place to sit; also announce expectations for behavior. Reading teacher, librarian and principal sit on floor with kids. All 3 quietly move from time to time and sit closer to a pocket of kids who are approaching rude behavior.

That’s very good.

Storyteller has a plan. Ask the kids to listen, really listen, so that they can ask the adult who brought them, on the drive home, to tell them which story they liked the best. When the adult answers with the title of the story they liked best, kids are to ask the adult to retell the story on the drive home. Kids’ job: to listen and see how the story has changed. All of this delivered with great humor, exaggerated voice, and 150 adult and kid right hands up taking the Pajama Night Delight Challenge in unison. Laughter, giggles, they’re wondering if storyteller is  crazy – we’re off to a good start.

That’s good.

Storyteller is crazy.

That’s bad.

Yep, with an army of fellow storytellers watching her back, cheering her on, letting her know some of the stuff she does is spot on and offering tips for future use, encouraging her to expect the best and plan for the worst storyteller is ready. Really ready. Yep, storyteller has no problem pausing and waiting for the audience attention she wants from time to time. Yep, this no longer feels like being a rude guest; instead it feels like being a confident, competent professional with standards of excellence. Yep, lots of interaction and participation. Yep, lots of opportunities to blow off some steam before, during and after stories. Yep, slowing it down before the energy starts to spiral out of control. Yep, asking for help from some of the trouble makers. Yep, using sound – no bodhran, drum, guitar or nose flute – but voice and song and clapping hands and percussion eggs to reel ‘em in when the slippery eels start to wiggle away. Yep, some tolerance for chaos. Yep, an expectation for controlled chaos.

That’s very, very good.

Program goes well. Audience happy. Storyteller happy. Apparently client happy too. Email from client next day. “Last night was fabulous!  The students and parents love the interactivity of your storytelling! (The principal) would like me to plan ahead for next fall…..the actual ‘Family Reading Night’ is scheduled for November 18, 2010 next year. Can we book you this far in advance for that date?”

That’s good.

Oops. Here we go again. Storyteller had bad experience just last month with a last-minute ditch on Family Reading Night.

That’s bad.

Storyteller learned a good lesson. No date is carved in stone until the contract comes back signed.

That’s good.

We live. We learn. We share. We grow. We do it together.

That’s definitely good.


Entry filed under: Just Do It -- Stories from the Field, Teaching Artist.

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