My first story workshop at Blue Anchor

I volunteered recently with Southwark Libraries to do some creative writing and story workshops at the Blue Anchor Library.


Blue Anchor Library is small and cosy and not far from where I live.  It has a newly refurbished building and staff who are committed to literacy and reading. For a library this size, it has an array of events that are suitable for the community they serve.

Today was the first workshop and as an ode to the Mythical Monsters Summer Reading Challenge, my story woranansikshop was to help the kids write an Anansi story of their own.

Not sure lot of parents were thinking about workshops for this week as it was term start – but the valiant librarians encouraged the children reading and finishing up homework (new term after all) to come and participate.

Two girls who came early and sat and read the Anansi books that the librarian had put out for the event. Then two sisters who had done their homework wanted to join. Then another boy who came to the event seeing the poster. So we had a good group to start us off.

We started off with an Anansi story – I told the story of How Anansi got the box of Stories and realized many visitors were keenly listening to it too. I could see parents hovering by the video section that was closest to the workshop space and listening.Blue_Anchor_children_s_library_for_web

A boy who was doing homework took off his headphones and turned around, but he was too shy to come down and actually participate.

After I told the story, we analysed it. We figured out jointly the structure of an Anansi story. Then I read them a story that I had written a few years ago at Jane Yolen’s workshop – an original trickster tale about Anansi, not from Anansi’s box of stories.

The kids then analysed the story I had written and matched the structure. Now they were ready to create their own. By this time, we had lost two of the participants as their ride had come early.

But the other three were undeterred. They had three different plots and we discussed each plot. By the end of the plotting, we jointly decided one plot wasn’t going to work. Then the children started writing their own stories with it.

I could see the enthusiasm in their eyes. They weren’t shouting and jumping about with joy – but they were seriously working on their stories. I had three converts on my hands – kids who wanted to write stories and read more.

The parents were absolutely thrilled that the kids had sat down and written a story. Other parents came to ask if there was another session. So all in all a good workshop. I always think – if I can I instill the joy of stories and writing in one kid – that’s reward enough for each event I do.

peagreenboatNext week I am in Dulwich, at Rosendale Primary School with Peagreen Boat Books at their Mini Hay Festival telling stories to Reception and Year 1 kids all day long. I can’t wait.


Storytelling at the re-opened Streatham Library

Friends of Streatham Library and the fantastic Sandra Davidson from the Library invited CWISL to come and participate in the opening week festivities. We had a stall at the new big hall.

I had 4 of my books to display and sell. It was great to see that many people – parents, grandparents and visitors to the library were interested in the books as much as the food, the chess and the history on display.


The big and bold illustrations of As I Watch and Balu’s Basket did get a lot of attention.

And then in the afternoon it was my turn to do storytelling in the children’s section of the main library. The kids were busy painting bags and after a big storytime announcement from me the kids and parents gathered around.



This was the first time I was going to tell Where is Gola’s Home? And As I Watch. Balu’s Basket was on its second storytelling.

gola_webThe kids loved listening to Gola. They loved to think about landscapes like riverside, forests, the beach and the mountains.


And then I read Balu’s Basket. While some of the fruits were exotic for the kids here, they were really into it. They guessed the colour, they made shapes with their hands. We clucked together when Balu went to collect the chickens and we sang Rock a Bye Baby when he rocked the baby to sleep.

AsIWatch-6x150After that I read As I Watch – appropriate for a beautiful, spring afternoon. After the butterfly had laid it egg, the children drew colourful butterflies.









It was a fantastic opportunity to be there and to meet with so many lovely Streatham residents. It was another wonderful event made possible by being part of CWISL.10150691_627492180649570_1087848448_n