December 12, 2015

Tell Me a Story

This is the first in a series of posts on personal narrative and storytelling. Stay tuned for more posts on this theme!


Wow! We all have a story to tell. Each and every one of us. Telling these stories is important. It matters…

Our Stories Matter!

Recently, I rediscovered StoryCorps, a great resource for teachers and parents who want to educate young people about the power of personal narratives! I’ve included a few of my favorite animated versions of StoryCorps stories below. If you go to the website, you can also hear EVEN MORE stories via podcast. Learn from other folks personal stories and then share some of your own!

More Perfect Union

This one is really inspiring. It’s a great way to share with young people the very recent injustices many African-Americans faced in accessing even basic rights like the right to vote. It’s also a great example of perseverance. Even when life isn’t fair, by working together, we can make things right.

When Theresa Burroughs came of voting age, she was ready to cast her ballot—but she had a long fight ahead of her. During the Jim Crow era, the board of registrars at Alabama’s Hale County Courthouse prevented African Americans from registering to vote. Undeterred, Theresa remembers venturing to the courthouse on the first and third Monday of each month, in pursuit of her right to vote.

Making It

I love this story of a young boy as interviewed by his teacher. If you are not familiar, Chicago’s West Side is often described as a largely poor, crime-ridden area. Noe is a great example that all children have dreams they are willing to work hard for. As a former classroom teacher, I also love hearing his teacher’s hopes for his student’s future.

Noe Rueda grew up poor in Little Village, a neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. As young as 8 years old, Noe often relied on his entrepreneurial talents to help his mom and three siblings make ends meet. At StoryCorps, Noe tells his high school teacher Alex Fernandez about his childhood, and Alex shares his dreams for Noe’s future.

Me & You

I love this story. It’s a great adoptive story and shows that LOVE (not biology) makes a family. Listening to the mother and son tell their stories is really a beautiful thing. This relationship… this connection… this unconditional love… THIS is the most important aspect of being a parent. (Note: If you child has expressed fears of death/dying as I do because of a fairly recent experience with cancer, this video might cause worry.)

On May 25, 1971, Jackie Miller and her husband brought home their son, Scott, whom they adopted. 37 years later, Scott brought his mother to StoryCorps, where they shared a conversation about Jackie’s decision to adopt him, their profound love for one another, and Scott’s trepidation at what the future holds.

No More Questions!

This one is funny and a bit of a tearjerker at the end. It is obvious Kay was a CHARACTER! I’m glad her family persisted and captured her story for us all. This story is a great example of why we shouldn’t wait to tell our stories. We need to share them now, so they are not lost to future generations. (Note: Not recommended for sharing with children who fear death/dying.)

Kay Wang was a strong-willed grandmother who was reluctantly taken to a StoryCorps booth by her son and granddaughter. Though Kay resisted, she still had stories to tell—from disobeying her mother and rebuffing suitors while growing up in China to late-life adventures as a detective for Bloomingdale’s department store. Kay passed away just weeks after that interview, and her son and granddaughter returned to StoryCorps to remember her gentler side, which she kept to herself.

What’s Next?

Tell your own stories! Over the holiday break coming up we have the opportunity to see our old friends and relatives. This time together is a great time to share and document some of the great stories that are a part of our heritage and our lives. With that in mind, I’ll be following this post up with another post (or two!) about how YOU can share stories with your family and with the WHOLE WIDE WORLD. Stay tuned!!!

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About alimcollins

Ali Collins is an educator, community organizer and mom. She lives with her husband and twin girls in San Francisco, CA.

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Family fun, Holidays, Language Arts, Learning at Home

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