This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, November 20, 1996

November 20, 1996 - Tellabration '96

About 12 years ago I did a poetry workshop for a K-6 private school. First I got to talk to the kindergartners, then the first graders, and so on up to the 12 year olds.

My approach was pretty basic. I started off by asking, "How many of you had a dream last night?" My next question was, "Who taught you how to dream?"

My point was that imaginative storytelling is hardwired into the brain. It's the primary way we make sense of the universe. It's as fundamental a part our being, as necessary to our health, as breathing.

This is literally true. People deprived of the Rapid Eye Movement period of sleep (during which dreaming takes place) for as short a period as a week begin hallucinating, become paranoid, and often turn violent. We need to dream.

I hoped that by pointing to this innate talent, I might be able to get a few kids to realize that the hard part of poetry (starting!) was in fact utterly natural. They had it within them, they didn't have to be taught it, so let fly! On the other hand, the form of the thing could take as much polish and study as they were willing to give it.

But what bemused me most was the effect of age. When I asked the kindergarten class, "Who had a dream last night?" almost every hand went up. They not only remembered that they had dreamed, they most enthsuiastically wanted to tell me the details.

Grade by grade, the percentage of hands dropped by about 10-15 percent. By the time I got to 6th grade, either nobody remembered their dreams, or they were in no mood to discuss them.

Then and now, I find that unspeakably sad. Night after night, all over the world, humans are falling asleep and creating complex and fascinating universes, richly textured, laden with profundity and humor. Then -- poof! -- they wake up. Gone.

But if you're looking to promote a little dreaming and storytelling in your waking hours, there's good news. In celebration of an annual event called "Tellabration! '96" the library will be bringing in a fellow named Mike Gilbert. Gilbert is a "Storymaker" who uses audience suggestions to weave funny tales. His first appearance will be during Starlighting activities in Castle Rock (Saturday, November 23). Gilbert will appear from 3:30 - 4:15 p.m. at the Masonic Hall, top floor.

At 7 p.m. on the same day, he will be at our Parker Library at 7 p.m.

At our Highlands Ranch Library, at 11 a.m., also on the 23rd of November, Pam Faro will be our professional storyteller. Ms. Faro uses musical instruments to supplement her family-oriented storytelling.

Since you know you're going to be telling stories in your sleep anyhow, why not take the whole family out to dream a little together?

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