Storytelling is fundamental to human nature.
Through storytelling, we deepen the connections that find commonality through victories and hardships that the characters endure.
Storytelling is at the core of what we do at Children’s Fairyland. We recently examined the intention behind storytelling and found that we needed to make progress in the areas of representation and diversity. The stories told in the park — puppet shows, theatre, performances, and story book boxes — need to reflect the community we serve. In order to accomplish that, we baked that commitment into our retooled mission and vision. To help us transform storytelling at Fairyland we made connections with local members in the community to create a holistic approach to inviting new stories into the park that are informed by culturally responsive pedagogies.
Over the last two years we have built a team of Stories Committee volunteers consisting of professionals in early childhood education, children’s librarians, theatre directors, and our own Education and Community Engagement staff. Fairyland is fortunate to work with a diverse group of passionate community members who help with story selections presented in the Puppet and Children’s Theatres. The goal is to ensure all children feel included and welcome when they visit Fairyland by seeing and relating to the stories being told in the park. By doing so we hope to build a stronger learning community at Fairyland.
Through research, conversations with one another combined with the expertise that each member brings, the committee recommends thoughtful, relevant stories that reflect our place and time. The committee begins the selection process with the theme, in which all stories, from classic fairytale to folklore to contemporary literature have a connection to.
The stories in 2023 shared at Fairyland all have a strong relationship to ‘belonging’. This theme evolved from our dialogue around ‘community’ shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic started, which deeply impacted children’s social lives, developmental achievements and well-being. Learning in isolation and having to give up play time with their peers are not natural human behaviors. Because we are still coping from and adapting to these changes, the committee felt compelled to find stories that will help our young audience search for a sense of belonging. These stories help us appreciate friendship and love, feel welcomed and seen, and identify with places that we feel a deep sense of connection toward.
2023 Stories Committee Members
Vicky Chen: Staff, Senior Director of Education and Community Engagement
Corinna Rezzelle: Staff, Theatre Programs Manager
Michaela Ellis: Staff, Education and Curriculum Manager
Angela Moffett: Staff, Fairyland Librarian
Randal Metz: Fairyland Master Puppeteer
Jessica Martin: Staff, Senior Director of Events
Nashwa Eman: Fairyland Board member / School Counselor / Social Worker
Haitham Mohamed: Arabic Language and Culture Professor
Isa S. Chu: Nonprofit Performing Arts Manager
Paola Bea: Early Childhood Educator
Sandy Brumbaum: Literacy Educator / Academic Coach
Nicole Powell: Children's Librarian
Channing Kennedy: Storytime Reader / Author
Ana-Elba Pavon: Children's Librarian