Nikky Smedley – Storytelling for Young Children in 2012

Nikky Smedley, the performer, storyteller and choreographer best known for her role as the Teletubby Laa Laa, first appeared on my site back in 2010, when she took her children’s dance show The Tell Woman on tour in the UK.

Nikky Smedley as The Tell Woman

On the eve of my interview with New York’s official storyteller Diane Wolkstein, Nikky joins us again for a guest post about storytelling and education in 2012.

Nikky writes:

“Right at the start of the year, I held a workshop at Birmingham Hippodrome for students from Solihull College training to be Early Years Practitioners.

It was a jam-packed morning, covering some tips and techniques they could take away and implement – but also delving more deeply into the nature, power and philosophy of storytelling – why it matters and why we care about doing it well.

My overarching theme was that it’s all about commitment.

Everything in life comes back to storytelling – we tell ourselves stories about how worthwhile / smart / handsome we are, and similarly we sum up everyone we know and everything we experience in a little story.

Most of psychotherapy, and certainly hypnotherapy is about acquiring techniques to recognise the stories of ourselves and our history, and change them if we wish.

Business relies on effective storytelling – Steve Jobs was a master.

This is not cynicism – quite the reverse – it’s finding the beautiful power of language in everything around us……. and that language doesn’t have to be verbal….. a perfect subtle story can be told with a few facial muscles.

And there’s nowhere to hide – no matter who your audience are, they can tell whether you mean it or not, and if you’re worried about engaging them – you need to mean it …. also, that’s what makes it more fun for the storyteller ….. the person ceases to matter, and the story is all.

It was a privilege to work with a group of young people who care enough to want to take their place in our oral tradition seriously …… but who also understand the value of silliness….. they take our words into the ears of future generations.”

Find out more about Nikky’s work in UK schools at

For more on storytelling in schools, see my 2011 guest post from Lee Castledine, secretary of the Australian Storytelling Guild, here. She’s got plenty of tips and tricks for storytelling with young children!

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