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St. Louis Storytelling Festival

Whether they’re tall tales or fairy tales, nothing captures my attention like a good story. Throughout time, people have preserved their beliefs, cultures and values through narration.The St. Louis Storytelling Festival is passing on this ancient art with its annual four-day extravaganza in May. Now in it’s 33rd year, this family-friendly event features 60 storytellers from around the country and from our own backyard.

This week marks the beginning of our country’s longest-running literacy program, Children’s Book Week. It is an annual celebration with a simple and powerful message: Books change lives, so let’s share them with our kids. Started in 1919 by the librarian of the Boy Scouts, who sought to improve the standards of children’s books, Children's Book Week is now administered by Every Child a Reader.

Children’s books hold a particularly special place in our culture. In fact, I probably enjoy them more than most of the adult books I read. They are deceptively simple, and the memorable ones tickle our imagination. They are full of the play and discovery characteristic not just of being a child but, well, of being human. And the element of illustration adds a whole other dimension to storytelling.

Here are some activities you can do with your child to celebrate this week.

I love to read. But perhaps even more than this, I love being read to. Some of my most cherished childhood memories are of my dad reading bedtime stories every weekend. Whole summers I would spend listening to recordings of Shel Silverstein or Marlo Thomas and Friends. These days, I attend poetry readings or author events or festivals. But I also find myself turning down the radio or folding laundry in the hallway to better hear my husband reading to our children. Whether it's Redwall to his teenage son, or Misty of Chincoteague to our 6-year-old daughter, I am entranced.

A Native American Storyteller will present a program of traditional and modern stories related to their tribal heritage. Presented by Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site 2 pm in the auditorium. No reservations required. Free. This event is sponsored by the University of Missouri-St. Louis and is part of the annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival. More information: