Top storytellers on tap at library |

Top storytellers on tap at library

Amy Meyerson
Special to The Aspen Times

Children’s author and librarian Margaret Read MacDonald will perform Wednesday, July 10, to kick off the fifth annual “A Summer of Storytellers” at 2 p.m. at the Pitkin County Library.

The storytelling series is a free family event for children ages 5 and up and occurs every Wednesday through Aug. 14. The series is co-sponsored by the library and private donor Lloyd Cotsen.

This summer’s series will feature seven storytellers: Julie Davis, MacDonald, Susan Klein, Hugo Sayles, Angel Vigil, Bob Seigetsu Avstreih and Denise Berry-Hanna. Each will offer different aspects of the international storytelling tradition.

Sayles, Vigil and Avstreih are all from the Denver area. Berry-Hanna was so popular last year that many requested she be on the roster again this year.

MacDonald and Klein are both attending the National Story Conference in Denver this year. While all of the storytellers are esteemed and the library is looking forward to the opportunity of hosting them, it is rare that MacDonald and Klein are both able to come to Aspen, said library officials.

While Davis has already performed this summer, MacDonald is considered the kickoff of the series because the Pitkin County Library is honored to have the respected author and librarian. MacDonald is a renowned storyteller and author of many children’s books. While in Aspen, she will be telling folk stories from all over the world.

MacDonald, children’s librarian at King County Library System in Seattle, has a Ph.D. in folklore from Indiana University. She is the author of over 22 books on folklore and storytelling plus many children’s books. Some of her best-known include “The Old Woman Who Lived In a Vinegar Bottle,” “Pickin’ Peas” and “FatCat.”

Those attending MacDonald’s performance should be prepared to get involved in the performance, as she always gets the audience involved through chanting, singing and dancing.

Following her performance, there will be a book-signing.

In addition to her performance, MacDonald is also teaching a workshop at the Young Storytellers Club Summer Camp. The camp runs from July 8-25. Although the camp has already started, there are still a few openings for anyone interested in this three-week-long, free camp. It’s held Monday through Thursday in the afternoons.

One Pitkin County librarian said she is excited about this year’s storytellers series and is especially looking forward to MacDonald’s performance.

“It’s really neat because the kids are growing up with stories and growing up listening,” she said, “which I think is a real talent with all the video games and TV. They have to use their imagination because it’s just telling; there are no pictures.”

She said she feels she has reached a few of her lofty ambitions with this year’s series.

“I wanted to start at the top,” she said. “I tried to get the best, and I got some of the best. We even got people outside of the Rocky Mountain area.”

“A Summer of Storytellers” is designed for children ages 5 and up. For younger children, there is the “Tunes and Tales” program, during which a librarian tells the tales and students from the Aspen Music Festival accompany her. After the reading, the students teach the children about the instruments.

For more information on any of the programs at the library, call 925-4025.

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