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Enchanted: Story Circles Across Generations

December 6, 2017

Another Way for week of November 24, 2017

Enchanted: Story Circles Across Generations

After spending time with my grandsons in two different storytime circles, I am pretty amazed. Not by my grandsons (hey, all grandmas think their grandkids are amazing, right?), but by the storytellers!

Circle 1: Northern Virginia

Talk about energy. I wasn’t sure who was more keyed up: the two and three-year-olds who circled me, or the young librarian in charge of story hour at a library near my oldest daughter’s house.

I had my then-two-year-old grandson James with me, and it was the first time for both of us (well, the first time in 30 some years for me, since the time his own mother was a preschooler). I felt new along with James.

James enjoying This is a Moose read by his grandpa.

First the storyteller: short with jet-black dyed hair with edges of red, a small tattoo running up her arm, and wearing old style sailor blue jeans (wide legged). She looked in her 20s and practically bounced as she valiantly charmed about 18 little minions mostly with her voice, hand motions, and electric smile.

Each child came with a parent or caretaker, although we were a kaleidoscope of Asian, Arabic, Indian, Latina, and plain old beige like me.

My grandson was mesmerized too, so much so that I had to nudge him to go up to participate in the group type activities. He preferred just watching the others from my lap.

Owen mesmerized by a storyteller at a Thomas the Tank Engine Day.

Circle 2: Spencer, North Carolina

More recently I was able to watch the faces of another daughter’s two boys at a Thomas the Tank Engine excursion and surrounding activities at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer.

We had enjoyed the main “event,” a brief train ride with hundreds of other eager and excited mostly preschoolers, parents and grandparents. We browsed the gift shops and each boy picked out what they wanted in the way of new Thomas paraphernalia. We posed with trains for photos, played with wooden tracks and train cars and engines at various train tables. There were kiddie-car-sized trains to ride on going in small circles which Sam, the oldest grandson, could operate by pushing a button. There were huge model railroad train layouts to admire and point out the tiny figurines and flag men waving and signaling, lights flashing, and engines chugging away. And more!

Then I spied a large rug with a handful of children and parents or grandparents sitting cross-legged on the floor in a far corner of the warehouse, which also functioned as an antique train restoration facility. Another energetic woman, this time maybe in her late 40s or early 50s, was reading huge Thomas the Tank Engine books to the small gathered fans. Ah, a chance to sit down, rest, and regroup from the super stimulation of taking in so much fun.

She mostly told rather than read from the poster-sized storybooks, pausing to answer questions from the tykes if they just couldn’t wait until the end, and drew my two grandsons in like she was the original pied piper. Ms. Piper’s smile, eyes and enthusiasm were captivating and I was especially fascinated by how my 14-month-old grandson drank her in like she was his fairy godmother. His eyes barely left her as we sat there through three tales from Thomas land. It wasn’t great literature (many hero-themed books fail in that department) but it was a book, not animation, not a video, not a movie, not a play. We talked to her after the reading—and indeed she is a teacher in “real life” too. How lucky her students!

Both of these women reminded me how great is the power of a face and voice, spurred on by deep love for children, plus commitment to engage a kid’s powerful imagination and brain. The readers were educators, actors, and drama queens who adored children—in the very best sense of being drama queens!

I love the way my grandchildren are helping me see life through new eyes—and indeed it was that way with when I had my own children—and even a “little sister” (and little brother for my husband) in the Big Brother/Big Sister program before we had children. I so remember going to the mall and the toy store and county fair with her and enjoying everything through younger eyes. And I know my husband felt the same way as he enjoyed childhood activities with his “little.”

How thankful I am in this season to have been blessed with both children and grands—something none of us should ever take for granted. And to relearn the wonderful gifts children are endowed with by their Creator.

But back to the magic of stories and books: don’t overlook these old standby Christmas gifts in your shopping!


What are some of your favorite books for small children? Here are two we discovered this year:

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11

A Farm for Maisie

My thank you gift to all readers this year is a small 2018 lighthouse-themed monthly planning calendar, suitable for purse or pocket. Request it at anotherwaymedia @


Another Way is a column © by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. Columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.


  1. We have a bit of synchronicity going on here this week: time to explore other “lands” with grandchildren. The sense of wonder persists for a short while; I’m glad we are both grabbing hold of it while the iron’s hot! Your phrase the “power of a face and voice” stood out for me, a wonderful way to explain the magnetism of storytelling.

    By the way, I don’t think you are “plain old beige” at all – ha!

    • I wished to take photos of both these storytellers, but finally decided I wouldn’t invade their privacy nor did I want to ask. So you’ll just have to imagine their faces which drew us all in. And this was the first time I had ever seen little Owen so engaged from a story. He loves looking at books, even by himself. Yay. And yes, there were threads between our posts–!

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