“The cornerstones of good storytelling is to find a story you love, know it and don’t memorize it, see it as you tell it and share that love of the story with the audience,” said professional storyteller Michael Katz (www.storytellermichael.com).
Katz demonstrated his passion for the stories he told during a Jan. 23 visit to Peterson Middle School. He performed at three assemblies, one for each grade at the middle school. Katz’s stories reflected on the themes for each grade level. For example, eighth graders learned about making the right choices and seventh graders were exposed to ideas about building connections and standing up for what is right.
“For 30 years, I’ve been working as a professional storyteller,” said Katz when he introduced himself at the sixth grade assembly. “I go to schools. I go to jails. I go to libraries. I go to many places telling stories. Over time, I’ve collected a bunch of stories. Each of these stories deals with a different topic. Sometimes it’s just humor. But sometimes it’s something that we can actually take with us through our life.”
Sitting criss-cross applesauce in the Multipurpose Room, the sixth graders listened intently as Katz told two stories related to transition and resilience, themes for the sixth grade class. First, Katz shared the story of “The Little Shepherd Boy,” an Italian folktale. In this story, a bad-mannered boy gets cursed. To reverse the curse, he must go on a wild and strange adventure to find the lovely Bargaglina of the three singing apples. During this journey, the boy develops the character traits of courage and commitment.
“Change is possible in life but we must remember that it is a journey,” Katz said.
Katz also told what he referred to as a Black American folktale called “Wiley and the Hairy Man.” The story is about a boy named Wiley and his imprudent choices that prompted him to use his wiles to rid himself of the scary Hairy Man.
“Recognize those people who point you in the right direction and learn to listen to them,” Katz said.
“Storyteller Michael Katz’s stories are told with a unique focus on our grade level themes,” said Susan Harris, Principal of Peterson Middle School. “His characters often have to make a difficult choice, one that the character struggles with over a series of events. This is what we call life. Mr. Katz brings life lessons to our students in an engaging and fun way but also with an important message.”