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Story time

Stories are powerful. A well-told story even more so.

Five years ago, the University Libraries began a series that brings children’s book authors and storytellers to campus. The goal? To reach out to area school children and to teach future educators about using stories in the classroom.

This year, Bobby Norfolk, co-author of “Anansi and the Pot of Beans,” “The Moral of the Story: Folktales for Character Development” and “Anansi Goes to Lunch,” will share his tales with area school children and the public Sept. 12. The event is made possible by the Pam and David Sprinkle Children's Author and Storyteller's Series Fund.

Norfolk, who began his career as a stand-up comedian and actor, discovered storytelling in 1979. Since then he has performed living history programs that highlight the African-American experience as well as musical shows that feature live musicians. His stories promote character education traits (such as respect and responsibility), cultural diversity and literacy.

In television, Norfolk won three Emmy awards as the host of the CBS TV show “Gator Tales” and also hosted the Emmy nominated series “Children’s Theater at Bobby’s House.”

In October 2009, he received the national Circle of Excellence Oracle Award, an honor presented by the National Storytelling Network.

He will give his first program of the day to area fourth graders. They are hosted and chaperoned by their teachers, NC Teaching Fellows and education majors. The School of Education also helps with logistics. So far, more than 2,500 students have come to campus since the series began.

“Most of our students have very limited experiences outside of home and school,” one fourth grade teacher wrote. “By bringing our students to a university campus and exposing them to the rich language of a have positively impacted their personal and academic growth.”

In the afternoon, UNCG elementary education majors are invited to see Norfolk tell stories to more fourth graders followed by a question and answer session. The session gives them ideas on how to incorporate storytelling and author visits into their teaching.

The public is invited to a free evening performance at 7 p.m. in the Elliott University Center auditorium.

See videos of Bobby Norfolk performances as well as his 2010 performance about the Negro Baseball Leagues.

Post courtesy of Beth English, as it appeared in the UNCG Magazine, Summer 2011