Once Upon a Time in Georgia, Families Stayed Connected Through Stories

Stories connect us with other people. They help us learn about ourselves and others, and it’s in our nature to tell stories and listen to them. Sharing stories is vital during times of isolation. Back in 1353, the authors of “The Decameron” formed a compelling mosaic of stories that provided a document of life during an uncertain time—along with a sense of normalcy and routine for those who took part.

Today, the change in our current lives and uncertain future due to the coronavirus pandemic has left our children physically and emotionally isolated. That’s why the Get Georgia Reading Campaign created the “Georgia Storytellers Series.”

Some local celebrated authors, storytellers, and musicians have come together to connect with and inspire children and families through stories.

What would your pet say if it could speak? Award-winning author and storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy shares a fable about a thief who offers to teach a king’s horse how to talk—and an important lesson about remaining optimistic during hard times.

Can you steal the smell of soup? A wise king is tasked with settling this dispute between an excellent cook and a hungry farmer. Award-winning storyteller Donna Washington shares this tale about an unlikely friendship—and the power of teamwork.

There’s an instrument that’s been played for thousands of years around the world, can fit right in your pocket, and is beloved by a famous dog named Snoopy. Do you know what it’s called? Grammy-nominated folksinger, songwriter, and instrumentalist John McCutcheon is here to tell—and sing—all about it.

You can turn your imagination on anywhere—under the dining room table, the back of your closet, inside a homemade fort. Atlanta-based author Laurel Snyder shares her story “Charlie and Mouse Outdoors” where the power of imagination propels two boys from a boring car ride into an unforgettable adventure.

“Not I!” That’s the answer the Little Red Hen keeps getting when she tries to convince some very lazy barnyard animals to help her plant and harvest food. Atlanta-based storyteller Josie Bailey presents an interactive and entertaining version of this classic cautionary tale about reaping what we sow.

North Carolina author Lester Laminack says, “Stories come out of your soul, past your heart, into your mouth… before they reach the pen in your hand.” He shares “The King of Bees,” his story about a curious boy named Henry who becomes fascinated with his aunt’s ability to communicate with bees—and tries to find a way to convince the sister bees to stay on their Lowcountry farm.

Grumpy Isaac thinks there’s too much noise in his house. Thankfully, his neighbor has the perfect solution: bring a chicken inside! Award-winning storyteller Donna Washington performs this hilarious tale that highlights the importance of looking on the bright side when we feel compelled to complain.

Second grader Marley Gokey of Newnan enjoys telling scary stories with her sisters before bedtime. The budding author and illustrator’s spooky story about what happened at Crawley’s Pumpkin Patch on “The Night Halloween Came Alive” took first place in GPB Education’s PBS KIDS Writers Contest second-grade category. “Halloween is so fun because you can pretend to be someone different,” said Gokey. Hundreds of K – 3 students in Georgia submitted original, illustrated stories for the chance to win great prizes and be featured on GPB’s website.

“Stars remind me that no matter how bad of a day I have, I can make a difference in someone’s life. We all matter. The simplest things that we do for others matters.” Hunter comes to this important realization as a special Christmas gift turns into an unbelievable holiday surprise for her family and friends on “The Night the Stars Fell from the Sky” by Georgia author Virginia Goodman.

Math is the only language that’s shared by everyone on the planet—and the story of math can be told through song. Atlanta-based storyteller Josie Bailey presents “Multiplication Goes Hip Hop,” which uses catchy rhythms and tunes to present the times tables, making the “Funky Fives,” “Sassy Sixes,” and more accessible and fun for kids of all ages.

Russell Whitehead shares his heartwarming holiday tale “The Light Man.” Mr. Brown would rather avoid the trouble of putting up holiday decorations altogether. But after some prodding from Mrs. Brown he decides to give it a try. The difficult job soon becomes a labor of love when he realizes the joy his display brings to others.


Now it’s your turn to add to our story. We encourage all children and families in Georgia to share your own stories on social media. Retell one of your favorite tales or make up one of your own. Read it, sing it, act it, dance it—the sky is the limit as you choose your favorite method of storytelling.

“You want your children to write imaginative stories? Let them play. Allow them to be bored and resist the urge to mitigate that tedium. Stories are always there, waiting to be conjured,” said Deedy, who also shared advice for parents raising young readers. “The trick is to get the right kid with the right book. Start with stuff they love. Not the stuff we love—the stuff they love. Readers should read things they’re interested in—anything and everything. Books can change your life. Reading a good book means no one ever stands between you and knowledge.”

Here are some helpful tips as you share your own story on social media:

  1. When using a camera on smart phone or tablet, turn your device to the horizontal (landscape) position to record in 16:9 aspect ratio.
  2. Beware of heavy back lighting such as having bright windows in the background or a person facing away from the sun outside.
  3. If filming outside, consider environmental noises like cars, planes, trains, voices, etc.
  4. When you upload your video on Facebook or Twitter, tag us with #GetGAReading so we can share your story.

You can also get social by sharing story recommendations, snapping selfies with your favorite books, and showing off where you’re reading and who you’re reading with. Be sure to use the hashtag #GetGAReading on Facebook and Twitter.

Families can visit GeorgiaSummer.org to find resources keep children engaged in learning and literacy along with tips on finding healthy food, staying safe, and choosing summer camps and child care.


Krystin Dean
GaFCP Communications Specialist