On Sunday, March 16, 2008, an article was written about a "Read-Along" sponsored by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Philippines' largest newspaper, at which I was a guest storyteller. The article, which ran on the front page and about a third of an interior page featured a lot about me. :) Very cool. Though some of the facts are a bit incorrect, the article is still great. (I did not sing "If You're Happy and You Know It" - same tune but my adaptation called "If You Like to Hear Stories...) Here is the article:
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Sunday, March 16, 2008 Vol. 23 No. 100
Read-Along Goes to Miriam for Campus Tour
By Kenneth M. del Rosario
KEEPING ITS PROMISE OF bringing reading closer to children, the INQUIRER partnered with the Miriam College Child Study Center (CSC) for its first ever Read-Along session in a private school.
Last Tuesday, more than 50 students in nursery and kindergarten had stories read to them by no less than the school president, Patricia Licuanan, and one of the students, 5-year-old, Angelo Aquino.
The children, aged 4 to 6 years old, also got a special treat when award-winning author and storyteller Dianne de Las Casas, who came all the way from New Orleans, took storytelling to another level when she told stories without reading from a book.
The INQUIRER started its Read-Along sessions in its Makati City office in May 2007. Since then, sessions were held in its office, in malls and hospitals, among others.
This book-reading in front of so many children was a real challenge for me," said Licuanan, who read "Paradise of the Animals" by Virgilio S. Almario. But like a pro, she read the story, complete with props she had made the night before. The book is about a parrot which destroyed the peaceful lives of animals when it started telling lies that made everyone fight each other.
The children, attentive and energetic throughout the activity, interacted with Licuanan by imitating the sounds of the animals in the story which included lions, dogs, horses, elephants, tigers and carabaos.
He didn't like the story
When Licuanan wrapped up her session, she asked the toddlers if they like the story she read or not. While many gave her a thumbs up, one student expressed his disappointment.
"No," the child shouted. "I don't like the story because the animals fought with each other," to which the president and the teachers responded with laughter.
Licuanan said that she was glad the children freely expressed themselves as this is exactly what they are being taught in school.
Then it was Aquino's turn to read. Dressed in full dinosaur suit, he stole the limelight when he read Carlo Diggory Shield's "Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp." After his performance, his classmates were up on their feet, clapping with fervor.
Clap if you're happy
"If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands [clap, clap]..." De Las Casas burst into song when it was her turn to tell a story. The children were more than happy to comply.
"When I tell my stories, I try to incorporate songs, dances, and a little choreography," said De Las Casas, a professional storyteller for 13 years. "That's how you keep children's attention. Tell your stories actively."
She started the session with "Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle," using her thumbs to act out the two characters. The students joined in by imitating her gestures.
Half-Filipina, De Las Casas left for the United States when she was 3 and settled there with her family. She gave in to the children's request and followed up with two more tales.
De Las Casas is in the country to hold a series of workshops on handmade tales, which is sponsored by Scholastic Publishing. Scholastic, which distributed reading materials to the children after the session, has been sponsoring De Las Casas since 2002. She holds storytelling workshops all over the country.
Her awards include iParenting Media Award, Children's Music Web Award, Storytelling World Honors, and NAPPA Honors for her children's books and storytelling CDs.
De Las Casas has two children, Soleil, 17, and Eliana, 7. She said that she would use her own kids, nephews and nieces to try out new stories she has written. "If they like my story, then maybe other children will too."
Having conducted storytelling sessions in Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, and all over the US, she gets her inspiration from talking to children's teachers. "Sometimes, they ask me to write materials to help them teach their students about unity, love or sharing." she said.
On Monday, radio host Ariel Ureta and award-winning actress Cherry Pie Picache graced the back-to-back INQUIRER read-along sessions also held in Miriam College CSC.
Ureta has a child studying in CSC and so does Picache.
For the morning session, Picache read "It's mine" by Leo Lionni in front of more than 50 nursery students.
Ureta brought to life "Si Beang Makulit," a story he wrote especially for the afternoon session of the INQUIRER read-along. It is about making children believe that angels exist even if they can't be seen.
First children's story
Ureta said this was his first real attempt at writing a children's story, although he has been thinking about it for some time.
He said he expected to read the story in front of out-of-school children so he wrote it in Filipino. When he noticed that the CSC children, aged 4 to 6 years old, would understand the story better if it were in English, he translated the story into English right there and then.
De Las Casas thanked the INQUIRER for spearheading the Read-Along sessions. "It's all about literacy and teaching children how to use language to their advantage. Teach them to read and you teach them to decode anything - from math to science. Name it."
"After all," she said, "If children can't read, what else can they do?"