Participation Reading in Hirzenbach, Zurich, November 2015

I was warmly welcomed by Ingrid Hirni from the kindergarten in Hirzenbach , Zurich. And then it already started: 35 curious children and their parents sat in front of me. I told the story “Snowbears never lie” by SAID, illustrated by Marine Ludin.

“Have you ever lied?”, I asked the children at the start of the participation reading. One big “No!” came back. “Well, I’ve lied before, even a couple of times”, I said. That was when a couple of truthful yeasayers appeared in the crowd. And all of a sudden, we found ourselves in the middle of the story. Children are a very thankful as well as challenging audience. They cannot fake attention. If a story is badly told, children will not politely hang on. They will not even keep their yawns to themselves. When one bores children, one will feel it instantaneously thanks to their audible discussions with each other and other noisy behaviour.

I must be present 100% of the time in order that my fascination spark their own. If one can enthuse children, they turn out to be the greatest audience. A complete absorption into the story, answers to one’s question at lightning speed, their whole body reacts when the story gets exciting. Whenever one has read a couple of times for children and then again for adults, one will soon think during the storytelling: “Why aren’t they moving? My protagonist is just climbing on board of a sinking ship!” or “Why isn’t anyone hollering the answer if they already know it?” Before each participation reading I try to gather myself, get calm, fill the room with my presence and create an environment in which the story may flourish. And when I accomplish that, I leave the room overjoyed. Such is the fortune of a storyteller.

Kristina Lemke, DIE BUCHPATEN