Spellbinders trains individuals, mostly 60 and better, in the art of oral storytelling, and places these individuals as volunteer storytellers in schools. Volunteers return to the same classrooms each month throughout the school year, forming strong and caring connections with the school children.
Spellbinders’ storytelling brings literacy, art, inspiration and the human touch to both the older adults and the eager listeners.
Elders have the satisfaction of being vital components of the community, passing on beloved stories to the next generation.
Youngsters are exposed to people and experiences that expand their knowledge and their outlook on life.
The intergenerational connections that are formed knit together community, creating the social capital that builds stronger, more cohesive societies.
In our fast paced, technologically-driven age, storytelling is a form of communication and connection that our society is hungry for, passing on to children enduring concepts and wisdom.
Spellbinders delivers its program by inspiring interested volunteers to join an existing chapter or start a new Spellbinders Chapter (learn more) to serve a particular city, county or school district. With the help of the national office, each chapter recruits its own volunteers, secures its own funding, and engages the services of a Certified Spellbinders Trainer to train volunteers using time-tested Spellbinders materials.
Storytelling’s Boost to Literacy
Oral storytelling is much different than reading a book aloud. Listening to stories orally told with the eye-to-eye contact, the accompanying gestures and the warmth of a gift freely given:
- Increase listening comprehension.
- Increase vocabulary.
- Develop a sense of story structure.
- Stimulate a child’s imagination, including making mental pictures of words in sequence – this is critical to reading comprehension
- Create a love of story which translates into an interest in reading.
“Stories are at the heart of learning and are a wonderful way to engage students’ creative thinking and creative writing skills. Storytelling represents a universal language of communication. It provides opportunities to learn how different cultures view the world. It encourages students to tell their own stories. That is how we foster creative writing.”
– Judith Johnson, Superintendent, Peekskill, NY
Redefining Elderhood for Healthier Senior Years
“Watching those little eyes shine with wonderment and feeling those bright minds in the palm of my hand was a magical moment. I had more gratification telling those kids stories than I had doing my most important business deal.”
— Spellbinders Volunteer
Spellbinders’ unique program restores elders to their traditional role in society…that of the keepers of the wisdom. Storytelling is an art form, and like the practice of all arts, the rewards are great to the practitioners. Research shows that older adults who remain meaningfully engaged in their community are healthier by far than those who are not, including reporting:
- Better overall physical health and fewer doctor visits than the others.
- Fewer falls.
- Better scores on depression and loneliness scales.
- A 30% smaller increase in medication use.
- Additionally, learning and re-creating stories improves memory and helps minds stay agile.
“I’ve been wondering about the role of elders in our culture, how we can restore them to their traditional place, where they stand with grace and authority, honored as guardians of wisdom and keepers of the stories. Being a Spellbinder is not just a nice addition to my life; it in fact has transformed it, shifted and re-defined my priorities.”
— Spellbinders volunteer
What are you waiting for? Volunteer today! Need more inspiration? Read one volunteer’s story!
Storytelling: The Yarn that Weaves Community Together
Spellbinders’ unique program actively works to build strong, caring relationships between older adults and youth in a community; relationships that are proven to strengthen community and decrease high-risk behavior in adolescents.
All children, not just those termed “at-risk”, need to know that adults in the community care about them and expect certain standards of behavior. Stories told in a vivid, gripping manner expose children to positive, character-building role models, both in the stories and in the adult delivering them.
The eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart contact of a spoken story engenders a sense of closeness between the teller and listeners that makes every child hearing the story feel it is being told for him or her alone. This establishes a mentor-type relationship between the teller and listeners, especially when the teller returns on a regular basis to the same small audience (such as a classroom) as Spellbinders do.
“I love when I am in the grocery store and a student recognizes me as “her storyteller” and recounts to her mom a story that I told her in class. That really is the best!”
— Spellbinders Volunteer