Tell me a story

Read by Betty White on "Storyline Online"

Stories are everywhere, and they’re not just for children. Here’s a sampling of local resources for story lovers of all ages, along with pictures of books currently featured in the “Storyline Online” program of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.

South Mountain Community College is home to the SMCC Storytelling Institute — which offers programs for students and performances open (and often free) to the public.

Their October calendar includes “Stories for Hispanic Heritate Month” (Oct 1), “Myth Informed” (Oct 11) and the “Fall Storytelling Festival” (Oct 21-22).

Other storytelling events this academic year include the “Storytelling Student Concert” (Dec 3), “Folktales for Grown-ups” (Feb 2), “Storytelling for Black History Month” (Feb 18), the “Community Storytelling Festival” (Apr 8).

Traveling storytellers often share their tales with Valley audiences at performing arts venues such as the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts — which presents “John Lithgow in Stories by Heart” on Oct 21 & 22, and “Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell” on Jan 21, 2011.

Read by Camryn Manheim on "Storyline Online"

I relished John Lithgow’s performance as the “Trinity Killer” in HBO’s “Dexter” last season — and enjoyed watching an interview with Lithgow that aired on PBS.

Turns out he’s quite the Renaissance man — smart and skilled in the ways of poetry, theater, music, writing and more. He’s even authored children’s books that I suspect I am still young enough to enjoy.

I can’t imagine anyone (outside of Minnesota) who might be as gifted in the art of storytelling. It’s not surprising given “Lithgow’s belief that storytelling is the unacknowledged tie that binds humanity.”

“Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell” features words by Spalding Gray, a longtime friend of the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The 95 minute piece (suitable for ages 16+) will be performed by a four-person ensemble and a local guest reader. Though he died in 2004, Spalding’s “work lives on in this funny, poignant and ultimately life-affirming play.”

Read by Melissa Gilbert on "Storyline Online"

Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe regularly hosts storytimes for youth, including a 10:15am storytime for families with toddlers and preschoolers held each Thursday (the 2nd Thursday of each month features a bilingual Spanish/English storytime). Also watch for special storytimes on Saturdays — including a “Cooking Storytime” at 10am on Sat, Oct 9.

The Deer Valley Rock Art Center in Phoenix offers “Ollie’s Storytime Adventures” for children ages three to six and their parents. The 10am storytimes (scheduled for Oct 15, Oct 29, Nov 12 and Dec 3) introduce children to “archeology, desert wildlife, and Native American cultures.”

Sometimes the best stories come from children. The Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix presents a puppet show called “Imagine This” in November. It’s based on stories and poems written by children at Kenilworth, a pre-K through 8th grade “global community school” in the Phoenix Elementary School District #1.

Watch for storytimes at your local library, as well as other museums, bookstores and performing arts venues. If you know of a storytime not mentioned here, please comment below to let fellow readers know.

Read by Al Gore on "Storyline Online"

And stay tuned to the Arizona Humanities Council website — which notes that “stories convey our histories, traditions, social mores, beliefs and insights about what it means to be human.”

The council “creates opportunities for sharing these diverse stories through critical thinking and public discussion, to better understand and appreciate one another, so that we can make informed decisions about our collective future.”

— Lynn

Note: I felt a bit miffed recently when a broadcast journalist referred to bloggers as “blurb meisters” — In fact, many bloggers (including the “Activist Writer“) are the master storytellers of new media.

Coming up: Reel stories from the Scottsdale International Film Festival

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