Storyteller brings laughs and books to Power Scholars students

NASHUA – The most “scrumptious-diddlyumptious” thing Mrs. Dragon has ever eaten is the heart of a monkey. The only problem for Mrs. Dragon, who so craves another monkey heart, is that she lives in the ocean and monkeys live on land. Her husband, Mr. Dragon, travels far and wide in hopes of finding a monkey to trick into coming home with him … for dinner.

This is one of the stories that professional storyteller Simon Brooks delighted children with at Fairgrounds Elementary School Wednesday morning, using many different voices, vivid facial expressions and full-body pantomimes.

Brooks is a New Hampshire-based storyteller and author working with the Children’s Literacy Foundation, an organization which seeks to foster a love of reading among low-income and at-risk children in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Brooks visited Fairgrounds, Amherst Street Elementary School and Nashua High School South Wednesday for storytelling and book giveaways to several hundred students in the district’s collaborative summer program with the YMCA, Power Scholars Academy.

Through CLiF’s summer reading initiative, each student was able to take home two, brand new books they could keep.

“We come to these areas to get kids really excited about reading in communities like this, where their parents can’t afford to buy them brand new books,” Brooks said after his presentation.

Getting books into kids’ hands is important, he said, and told them as much with a little white lie that earwax is created when your brain turns to fat and leaks through your ears.

The kids shrieked.

“The brain is a muscle you need to exercise,” he reasoned.

The dragon story concluded with the monkey foiling Mr. Dragon’s plan, tricking him in turn. The second story Brooks performed was geared more toward the older children. It told the story of the moon, which took the form of a woman and was captured (and then rescued) in the marshlands of England in the “long, long ago days.”

When Brooks told the students they could take home two books, they started whispering excitedly and by the end, many began reading on the floor, sitting at tables or waiting in line.

Rebecca Leary, program coordinator said the YMCA, has worked with CLiF in several different capacities, such as with this summer reading grant, and officials have always been impressed with the work.

Nashua schools are familiar with CLiF, as last year, Dr. Crisp Elementary School was the recipient of the Year of the Book grant. Along with several author visits, the grant allowed students 10 new books each.

The summer program, though, much like Power Scholars itself, aims to help prevent some of the learning loss that is common in students during the summer.

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or hlaclaire@nashuatelegraph.com.