My letter is in response to the negative remarks of Todd Vatters concerning the storytelling festival held every spring at Lindenwood University in Belleville for the students. It is apparent that \Vatters has never seen a storyteller before.
While it is true that kids "can get stories online," there is no comparison between watching something on YouTube and being present at a live performance.
At the Belleville Festival of Stories, the students get to see a well-known professional storyteller in Lindenwood University's beautiful auditorium. For many of these fourth- and fifth-grade students, this may be the first time they've had a live theater experience. Students then participate in smaller storytelling workshops with a local storyteller. (Incidentally, Lindenwood University receives no money for this event; to the contrary, they generously offer their campus as a venue for the festival, which takes place during their spring break.)
There are many educational benefits from storytelling: oral language usage, listening skills and visualization, all key components in reading success and developing creativity. Storytellers traditionally draw their material from world folklore, so there are strong messages of values and character education as well as appreciation for different cultures.
Just another day out of school? Hardly. The Belleville Achieves Strength in Character Initiative, which sponsors the festival, and the Belleville Township Board along with numerous individual donors, are providing a great opportunity for the students of Belleville.
Mary Lu Bretsch