The Sixth Annual Clarkston Tell Me a Story! was attended by over 350 children, families, partners, food vendors, and sponsors on Saturday, May 12th. at the Clarkston Community Center. The festival is an annual event which brings together children and adults of all ages to enjoy interactive literacy activities and children’s stories from around the world.
The theme of this year’s storytelling event was “Eat. Move. Talk!,” an initiative of the Georgia Department of Public Health. Activities focused on good nutrition, physical fitness, and language nutrition. Sixteen partners offered literacy games, such as book making, creating recipes, and other activities, including a popular llama project with the Michael C. Carlos Museum.
Participants at the Nam Dae Mun Farmers Market literacy activity table were treated to a juicy red apple! The Atlanta Puppetry Guild’s puppets were everywhere, talking and engaging the children in conversation and play acting. Festival favorite Center for Puppetry Arts volunteers helped children create their own puppet.
Children and their families also enjoyed activities offered by these partners: Clarkston First Baptist Academy, DeKalb County Community Development, DeKalb County Youth Services, DeKalb County Public Library, First Steps, Linda Travers, New American Pathways, Refuge Family Literacy Program, Half Price Books, Eat. Move. Talk! and Well Refugee Center. As in year’s past, face painting and the henna table were popular.
Families were welcomed by festival hostesses who spoke multiple languages. The Junior League of DeKalb helped with the distribution of the event book bags and greeted guests as they entered the Clarkston Community Center. While in the “Welcome Room,” each child chose books donated by Half Price Books, the DeKalb Library, and the DeKalb Summer Reading Program.
Angora Hall was filled with the sound of storytelling, drumming, and music from around the world. City Councilman Awet Eyasu welcomed the audience to this year’s festival and thanked CDF Action and the festival sponsors and volunteers. City Councilwoman Andrea Cervone read one of the new DeKalb Summer Reading Program’s books, Seed Magic, to a captivated audience.
We were surprised as to how many people knew and participated in the Swahili welcoming song which originated in Kenya. The song was led by LaVerne Amponseh, Mistress of Ceremonies, and teachers from the READY School. Participants in the audience – from many countries – joined in.
Music was in the air as musician Julie Austin brought everybody to their feet to participate in her wonderful songs and activities, including a song in sign language. Gwen Napier, Mistress of Ceremonies, led the drumming and dancing, accompanied by storytellers Jerry G. White and Chetter Galloway, who a told stories from Africa and around the globe.
The festival welcomed a new storyteller, Meh Sod Paw, a student at Agnes Scott, who skillfully held the children’s attention as she dramatized a Burmese version of Little Red Riding Hood, with a moral.
The Cat in the Hat (Reuben Haller), a festival tradition, strolled the halls, took photos with children, and once again gave a magical, interactive performance “on stage.” Book shelves, donated by the DeKalb Library, were a big hit, and one child said “now I have to fill the whole book shelf with books.”
CDF Action and partners thank the City of Clarkston for their generous grant for the Clarkston Tell Me a Story! The festival was also supported by the Governor’s Office for Student Achievement (GOSA) literacy mini-grant. Sponsors include DeKalb County Public Library, Nam Dae Mun, Eat. Move. Talk!, Thrift Town, New American Pathways, Clarkston Community Center, DeKalb County Government, Kuumba Storytellers of Georgia, Mentoring Initiative for New Americans, CPACS, and a number of individual donors.
The annual event is sponsored by the Clarkston Early Learning Network (CELN). CELN, coordinated by CDF Action, is a network of individuals and agencies committed to working collaboratively to promote innovative multi-cultural, multi-lingual early learning programs and policies. This year’s Clarkston Tell Me a Story! planning committee included: LaVerne Amponseh, Gwen Napier, Linda Travers, Dana Geller, Rodney Reese, Terry Sanders, Roberta Malavenda, Audrey Idaikkadar, and Ellen Gadberry, Coordinator.
For more information about the Clarkston Tell Me a Story! Festival or the Clarkston Early Learning Network, contact: Roberta Malavenda, CDF Action, 404 736-6602. For more information and additional photos, please go to www.clarkstontellmeastory.org.