Local Library Storytelling

Senior CNET and storytelling superstar, Abbey Johnson, shares a Chatteris outreach project very close to her heart.

Chatteris is involved in many different community projects around Hong Kong; from working with special needs students to fundraising for different charities, there is always something going on. Since my first year with Chatteris, I have been involved with the local library storytelling, which is by far my favourite community activity. It is a programme that I feel makes a large impact on the students that attend, and directly promotes Chatteris’ mission of making English accessible to all, regardless of income or ability.

Each weekend, students from Hong Kong’s most underserved areas are invited to join in with English crafts and storytelling led by CNETs. The students vary, as some weeks it can be two year old babies, and other times they can be as old as seven or eight. Despite the variety in ages, the students all have one thing in common; they are enthusiastic about learning and they thoroughly enjoy crafts (the messier the better). Usually, the stories we tell are based around an overarching theme that connects them all. For example, last session’s theme was ‘Responsibility and Integrity’ and we read ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’. The children had a blast howling like a wolf and continued to do so as they were being picked up from the session (to the delight of their parents). Through the madness, we hoped that they had brought away a valuable lesson from the story, and that maybe that book would stick with them throughout their childhoods.

Being involved in the local library storytelling is also a great way to increase your teaching experience, especially if you don’t usually work with kindergarten or primary-aged children. It is also a way to catch baby fever. Before the programme, I would dread the moment that I was passed a baby at a family party or would struggle to speak to toddler cousins. Now, I find myself cooing at babies on the MTR and I even volunteered to babysit a small boy on a flight while his parents were trying to relax. Storytelling has changed me from a grouchy post-grad to a fun auntie.If you have the opportunity, I urge you to get involved with the storytelling programme. It is the wholesome activity that your weekend is missing!


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