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Paley Speaks at Uberto Price Reading Symposium Sept. 19

071403reading_dl.jpgBOONE–“Building Community Through Stories” is the theme for the 34th Annual Uberto Price Reading and Language Arts Symposium to be held Sept. 19 at Appalachian State University’s Broyhill Inn and Conference Center. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The public is invited.

Vivian Gussin Paley, known for her pioneering work in storytelling’s use in the classroom, will discuss “Fantasy Play as Storytelling: Frogs, Kittens and Bad Guys” as the keynote speaker at 10 a.m.

The afternoon features local storytellers Dianne Hackworth, Orville Hicks and Charlotte Ross beginning at 1 p.m. At 2:45 p.m., Paley joins them for a panel discussion on the cultural importance of stories and storytelling.

Paley is the author of “The Boy Who Would Be A Helicopter” and “In Mrs. Tully’s Room: A Childcare Portrait.” She writes and teaches about the world of young children. The Chicago Tribune Magazine wrote, “Paley has learned the essential lesson…Take very seriously the things that children say, and take equally seriously the things you say to your children.”

During her 37 years as an early childhood teacher in Chicago, Paley’s classroom approach included having children dictate their stories to her. She would read them back as the children acted out the various parts.

“When we are young, the joy of making up stories and taking roles in each other’s fantasies supersedes all other activities,” Paley says. “Who are you pretending to be and what story are you telling become the only questions fully understood by every member of the community of children.”

In an interview with Talking Points magazine, Paley said, “The simple need to communicate is, after all, the basis of community, and of education itself. Tell me your story and I’ll tell you mine; we’ll put all our stories on a pretend stage and then we’ll know who we are.”

Paley’s awards include a MacArthur Fellowship, The Erikson Institute Award for Service to Children, Lifetime Achievement American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, and the NCTE David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English.

Dianne Hackworth is a storyteller for all ages with stories varying from ballads to Celtic tales, from world folktales to myths, from classical literature to mountain lore. Although she has honed her skills with a master’s degree in storytelling, she comes to storytelling naturally, having learned many of her stories from her parents and grandparents.

Hackworth is the founder of the High Country Yarnspinners and co-founder and president of the North Carolina Storytelling Guild.

Orville Hicks grew up the youngest of 11 children in a farm family in western Watauga County. He remembers his boyhood as a hard but happy time and works these memories into his storytelling. Growing up featured storytelling as an important entertainment, work incentive, and expression of family and community unity. Hicks’ creative storytelling and reworking of tales to changing contexts is considered a singular development of Mountain Folk narrative tradition.

Hicks has been honored with the Kentucky Colonel Award, Brown Hudson Folklore Award, Folklore Preservation Award and Paul Green Multi-Media Award for his work.

Known as the “Legend Lady,” Charlotte Ross has collected and composed 3,400 original tales of legends and laughter from Appalachia, where she grew up. An energetic performer, playwright, folklorist, raconteuse and speaker with experience in storytelling concerts, theatrical performances, conferences, school residencies and workshops, she is, above all, a compulsive teacher. Ross is known for pulling the audience into each telling. She has performed at the American Folklore Society, Smithsonian Institution Folklore Festival, Opryland and the Ulster (Ireland) Folklife Festival.

The reading symposium honors Uberto Price, who in 1955 established the reading program at Appalachian, then a state teacher’s college. He also established one of the first reading clinics in the United States, and was known across the state as “Mr. Reading” for his in-service work and travel to schools where teachers were interested in improving reading instruction. He retired in 1982 and died in 2002.

The symposium is sponsored by Appalachian’s Department of Language, Reading and Exceptionalities. It is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Watauga, Ashe and Avery county school systems.

For more information, contact Dr. Connie Green at or (828) 262-2195.


Picture Caption: Author and teacher Vivian Gussin Paley