So we can see the power of story. But what exactly is a story, anyway? That is the question posed today by GB — not early in our discussion — but much later in, as if the very question itself took a while to sink in. What is a story?
Our discussion began when I held up a copy of one of my all time favorite books — Honey, I Love, by Eloise Greenfield.
"Nooooo," came the definitive and almost unanimous reply.
"It's a book," said one child.
"Ah… well, is there a story inside this book?"
"Hmmm…" It seemed that might be possible. And then this wisdom and experience started to bubble forward:
"A story is words you say with your mouth."
"Stories are words you put in books."
"Stories are pictures that get connected in books."
"Stories are real."
"Not all the time."
Followed by GB's question: "What is a story?"
And the excitement over this puzzle filled the room. Young authors bursting with enthusiasm and possiblity went to work to find a story.
Here SM works at the easel, simultaneously crafting a story and finding a new one:
She begins by painting the house she visited over the summer, on an island in Maine…
A huge thunderstorm came and one open window let in a flood!
But here's some brown paint. And when it squiggles down my paper, there is a rattlesnake in my story!
The green paint will make a good wall to protect the house.
In Story Workshop, the materials and the ideas influence and inspire one another, and the child learns to invent, control, select, decide, design the language of her world. She becomes an author in a community of authors.
I can see how the materials played a central role in the exploration and discovery of her story.