storytellingNational Storytelling Week is a holiday dedicated to the art of storytelling — and language and literacy in general — across the UK. Most of the associated events took place from January 30 to February 6 in 2016.

National Storytelling Week has ties to World Storytelling Day, which takes place on March 20. The celebration originated in Europe and generally features festivals, story slams, workshops, and other events in countries around the world. Most of the events take place in February and March, though many occur throughout the year. National Storytelling Festival in the US, for instance, takes place annually in October.

Oral storytelling predates the printed word, as human history began as oral history. Even before early civilizations passed down tales through poetry and song, our prehistoric ancestors may have told each other stories around the fire. Besides being possibly as ancient an art as cave painting, storytelling trains children in sequential thinking, listening comprehension, and creative imagination — tools they will need for the rest of their lives. Although this is particularly important in a child’s early years, everyone, young or old, can benefit from and enjoy storytelling, both as storyteller and listener.

Founded in 1993, the Society for Storytelling promotes National Storytelling Week and the craft of storytelling in England and Wales. Participation in National Storytelling Week can be as simple as revisiting stories from your childhood, passing along your favourite stories to others, or create new stories of your own. One way is to read up on traditional fairytales and then come up with a new way to tell an old favourite. Many schools, libraries, museums, and private organisations participate in National Storytelling Week by hosting “meet an author” events, performances such as spoken word and plays, and even activities centred around works such as Harry Potter.

With opportunities to tell and listen to stories for both professional storytellers and amateurs alike, National Storytelling Week is helping to keep storytelling vibrant as a form of art so that future generations can benefit from the power of the spoken word.