I am lucky enough to have received one of the Story boxes to take a look at and I am charmed by it. My Rapunzel box is a nice wooden box that has a top that slides open. When I opened the box, I discovered that the box has a scene painted into the bottom, which serves as a backdrop for the story. There are three characters, three turnips, a pair of scissors, a ladder, and a tower, all of which are made of hand painted wood. There is also a long yellow yarn braid that serves as Rapunzel's long hair.
I had a lot of fun trying out the box and plan on taking it to the elementary school where I volunteer as a reading helper. The booklet that comes with the book contains the story of Rapunzel, which adults and children can use and embellish as they wish.
Wanting to know how he came up with the idea of his Storyboxes, I asked Steve to tell me about them. This is what he told me:
I have always loved to draw and make things. I love writing and illustrating stories in my children’s books, whether it is the sounds a truck or train makes, or how a giant makes all the wrapping paper for Santa. Even when making a piece of fine art, the picture has to have a story or it will not work for me as an artist. I also have the great fortune to be a Pre-K teacher for a class of 4 and 5 year olds. I tell stories to the class almost everyday. At one point I was just a storyteller for a school and visited 10 classrooms sharing different stories with each of them. One class loved the story of Hansel and Gretel and would ask me to tell it over and over again.
As an illustrator and “maker of things,” I one day saw two pieces of wood in my workshop that were the same size and so I decided to carve Hansel and Gretel. I brought the two tiny figures to the class and told the story acting it out with the small wooden characters I had carved and painted. After I finished the story, the children asked, “Where is the witch, and the cottage, and the father?” I went home that night and carved all the other characters and props I needed for the story. I found a wooden box to put them in and painted a “title” on the box like a cover to a story book and storyboxes were born!
I went on to making a total of 13 boxes, telling them to children in schools, libraries and museums everywhere. Guidcraft approached me and asked to recreate the storyboxes so other teachers, parents and kids could use them to tell stories. I was excited to work with them because I had used their products in my classroom for years and was aware of the quality that they put into everything they make. Guidecraft made casts from each of my hand carved figures so they look exactly like the figures and props that I use.
Storytelling is such a great thing to share with a child. For my storyboxes to be in other classrooms where other teachers can make them their own and add their own ideas to them is what the oral tradition of storytelling is all about. When I tell a storybox in my classroom, I see my pupils adding narratives to their block play and making their own storyboxes out of paper. Telling a story to a child shares that love that leads to them wanting to read and write. I am so thrilled to be able to share my passion for storytelling with even more children now that my storyboxes will be available. There is an old proverb that says: People need stories more than bread, stories show them how to live and why.
Here is a video showing Steve Light using his Rapunzel Story box to tell the story to a classroom of young children.