Spellbinders celebrates 25 years with month of events | PostIndependent.com

Spellbinders celebrates 25 years with month of events

Jessica Cabe
Annie Sinton tells the story of Margaret Morgan at the Mount Sopris Historical Society event on Aug. 14.
Beth White |


Tuesday, Oct. 6: True Stories of the Frontier, 6-8 p.m., Old Cardiff Schoolhouse in Glenwood Springs, $10 (food and beverages served)

Thursday, Oct. 15: Stories from Around the World, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Third Street Center in Carbondale, free

Wednesday, Oct. 21: Fun Spooky Stories, 2-3:30 p.m., AES Library in Aspen, free for students with parents

Friday, Oct. 30: Slightly Spooky Stories, 4:15-5 p.m., Basalt Library, free

Storytelling has always been a part of humanity, even long before written language was developed. And Spellbinders is a national organization dedicated to keeping the art of oral storytelling alive.

In celebration of its 25th year, Spellbinder chapters across the country are planning events to raise awareness of the positive effects of oral storytelling — and simply to entertain their communities.

The Roaring Fork chapter of Spellbinders has planned four events for the month of October. Three are free and aimed at children, but the first event provides an evening of local history at the Old Cardiff Schoolhouse, with food and beverages served, to attract grown-ups, too.

The event is called True Stories of the Frontier and features five Spellbinder storytellers: Fred Haberlein, Bill Kight, Jack Green, Sylvia Wendrow and Annie Sinton.

Sinton, who is the co-chair of the steering committee of the Roaring Fork chapter, will be telling the story of Margaret Morgan, a horse wrangler and cattle driver in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s who died in 2002 at 105 years old.

“I had been asked to tell a story about a local character for the Mount Sopris Historical Society,” Sinton said. “For that event, I looked up several cowboys, and I found a wonderful book called ‘I Remember One Horse…’ It had more than 20 cowboys in it, and there was one woman among them. Her name was Margaret Morgan. I couldn’t help but be attracted to her story.”

Jack Green will tell the story of the Cardiff Schoolhouse, a building he’s been working to restore to its former status as a premier community gathering space. And he’ll tell it as if he were the schoolhouse itself.

“I’ve been doing events out there for five years,” Green said. “My connection to the schoolhouse is to bring it back up as a viable community center for that part of town.”

The other three storytellers will take on various roles to tell more local, historical stories.

Special events are not new to the Roaring Fork chapter of Spellbinders, but the group may be best known for its presence in schools. Storytellers from Spellbinders go into classes of all ages to tell stories and engage students in literature.

“Some children are intimidated by books, and in those very young classrooms, a storyteller can come in and be the child’s introduction to literacy,” Sinton said. “It gives children the structure of a story. A storyteller can help them learn the beginning, the middle and the end. Teachers tell us that it improves literacy.”

In fact, according to the evaluations filled out after a storyteller comes to class, 97 percent of teachers said having a Spellbinders storyteller tell stories in the classroom is helpful in achieving academic goals for their students. The survey is based on 426 respondents whose classrooms were each visited five or more times by Spellbinders.

“We’ve had such great response from our teachers,” Sinton said. “It’s magical, really, how the children love stories. And it’s true of all ages.”

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