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Global Storytime at Aberdeen City Libraries

Author: Jacqueline Adam, Aberdeen City Council

Aberdeen City Libraries hosted a family Global Storytime at the Central Children’s Library in March 2018 as part of the annual ‘Arts across learning’ festival fringe programme, organised by Aberdeen City Council’s Creative Learning Team. This was a fascinating opportunity to explore languages and stories from around the world and celebrate the diversity of cultures in Aberdeen.

Seven storytellers narrated stories or poems in Russian, German, Gaelic, French, Polish and Arabic. Hearing the language spoken by native speakers allowed the audience to appreciate the expressiveness of the languages and they could often grasp the essentials of the story despite not understanding every word. There was some very enthusiastic audience participation with the stories as we learned to count in Gaelic and interact with one of the best books ever written – ‘Press here’ by Hervé Tullet, told in its original French.

A traditional Russian story by Pushkin and expressive nursery rhymes in Polish left the audience wanting more of the rhythmic beauty of those languages. Well-loved children’s stories, ‘The very hungry caterpillar’ and ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’, were read in German and Arabic and enabled the audience to identify individual words from their previous knowledge of the books.

Feedback from the audience was very positive and some young members of the audience were lulled to sleep through the magic of the spoken word, showing just how powerful stories are in any language! While this was the first time Aberdeen City Libraries have held such an event, judging from the audience’s reaction, it certainly won’t be the last!

 

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