Award-winning storyteller Bobby Norfolk appeared at the Six Mile Branch Library on Johnson Road in Granite City as part of the library's Summer Reading Program.
GRANITE CITY — It was a busy morning (as usual) on June 11 at the Six Mile Branch Library on Johnson Road, but it was also a bit more entertaining.
Famed and award-winning storyteller Bobby Norfolk appeared at the branch library as part of the Summer Reading Program, weaving his tales to the delight of children and adults alike.
The educator and entertainer has the ability to relate to people age 5 to 105.
“Einstein once said if you want your children to be smart, tell them fairy tales,” Norfolk said. “If you want them to be smarter, tell them more fairy tales. The ancient writers and collectors of these stories knew 500 years ago that the way we learn not only life’s lessons but moral and ethical behavior is through story.”
The first two tales told were “Town Musicians of Bremen” and “Maui the Fisherman.”
“I liked how he changed to different voices for the different characters in his stories,” Jonathan Callahan, a student at St. Elizabeth’s School, said. “I liked the whole show a lot.”
A high attendance necessitated an outdoor event, but the humidity did not slow the energetic performer or take away from the attention of the audience.
The next tale was “The Dark Dark Forest” by Ruth Brown and required audience participation, including tongue twisters performed by audience members.
Norfolk’s career stretches back to 1975. Parents and grandparents remember him from those early days, appearing at comedy clubs and then moving on to his own TV program on KMOV Channel 4 in St. Louis. “Gator Tales” won three Emmy Awards and aired from 1988 to 1999. His show “Children’s Theater at Bobby’s House” also was nominated for an Emmy. Both shows were based out of St. Louis and the themes were character education, literacy and storytelling. He won The National Circle of excellence Oracle Award in 2009.
Norfolk uses meter, rhythm and rhyme in his stories.
“That method not only holds the attention of the audience but it also keeps me as a storyteller connected to the story with concentrated effort,” he says. “I love to interject pop culture into the ancient stories to keep them fresh. Some quips may go over the kids’ heads, which is OK, because at that point I am entertaining the adults in the audience.”
When traveling, his favorite place to appear is in Singapore.
“For the last three years they have held a Storytelling Festival on this beautiful island in Malaysia,” he says. “It is as clean and neat as Disney World and the food is fabulous.”
The Bobby Norfolk appearance at the library kicked off the Six Mile Regional Library District summer series. Tuesdays offer hands-on arts and crafts at the main library, and on Thursdays the library features a variety of entertainment shows.
For information, call (618) 452-6238 or (618) 452-6244.