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Storyteller weaves tales for students

Lincoln County children have listened to stories of elves and wishes, fat cats and steep roofs and slithery, sinister snakes this week.
Professional storyteller Dianne Hackworth is making her way through each of the county’s 12 elementary schools. The Lincoln Arts Council has sponsored her visit.
Hackworth will speak at schools a total of three days. Battleground Elementary School was her first stop Tuesday morning.
Students sat cross legged on the gym floor. Hackworth held their attention from the start.
“I love it,” Hackworth said. “You’ve got them in the palm of your hand.”
She told the students different kinds of stories — folk tales, fairy tales and fables with morals like “It’s easy to despise something that you know you can’t have” and “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”
The children sang along to choruses and repeated lines in the stories. Their favorites included the tale in which a man had a pizza stuck to his nose and a song called “Seсor don Gato.”
Ornella Prina liked the story of Mr. Cat the best. For one thing, the cat dies and comes back to life. For another, the song ends with Ay, Caramba!
“I liked when the cat said ‘Caramba,’” said Ornella. “I know how to say that.”
Joey Fortkort’s favorite part was when Hackworth played the autoharp. One of the songs she sang, “Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night,” dated back 600 years.
“That’s older than you grandma,” Hackworth told the audience.
Keeping the attention of a gym-full of children isn’t an easy task, but Hackworth has spent years working with children.
For 13 years, she taught kindergarten and music in elementary and middle schools. She eventually earned her master’s degree in storytelling and took on the career full time.
“I think (storytelling is) important because it’s a very intimate art,” said Hackworth. “Even if you’ve got a crowd of people, it’s almost a one-on-one relationship you’re developing.”
Hackworth comes from a long line of unofficial storytellers. She still tells stories her grandfather told her as a child. She thinks those family moments are priceless.
“If you’ve got a story — tell it,” she said. “It does help form a bond with kids.”
After a childhood full of stories and an adulthood devoted to telling them, Hackworth finds it impossible to pick a favorite.
“My favorite story happens to be the one I’m telling at the time,” Hackworth said.
She feels the same way about audiences — old or young, she just wants someone to listen.
“There’s not much difference (between children and adults),” Hackworth said. “(Adults) get wrapped up just as much as children do. They become enveloped in that story.”
by Sarah Grano

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