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Why I tell wild stories to children…for SF Chronicle


For years, Beatrice Bowles, practitioner of the ancient craft of storytellinghas been sharing tales from all over the world. She’s just signed on for the new Story Party series of audiobooks produced by Audible; one of her readings is the first tale in the series.

Given the state of the world, is she reading different kinds of stories to children nowadays than she had in the past? In terms of themes, she says, no. In fact, she adds, fairy tales “once deemed too violent for children have never seemed more appropriate.”

In 2018, she says, there are “evil rulers and greedy giants in this world … and such savage violations of nature” — although “I do avoid the most bloody and violent stories.” Fairy tales serve to “preserve and transmit the deeply subversive folk wisdom that subjugated cultures (and women) had to hide from royalty and the clergy. They pass on implacable truths about the laws of life and nature: that kindness truly matters; that evil brings about its own demise; that survival depends on cooperation and using your wits; that nature is a miraculous living web. And children understand,” emailed Bowles, “because their hearts are still open.”

Bowles and Laura Simms, artistic director of the Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center in New York, are scheduled for a storytelling session at 10 a.m. Feb. 10 at the Marin Art & Garden Center.

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