Festival Staff / March 12, 2015
Literacy Connects' Stories that Soar! program has been delighting Festival-goers with storytelling in its most dynamic form since the inaugural event in 2009. Every story they perform was written by a student in our community and then transformed by a talented crew of professional actors, musicians and acrobats into a live theatrical production that celebrates literacy, inspires creativity and motivates students to share their stories.
Stories that Soar! partners with local schools in Tucson and Southern Arizona to help students experience the power of storytelling as they see their own words and ideas come to life on stage. This school year, the cast will create and perform 15 original productions in partnership with 10 different public school districts. That means reading through more than 8,000 stories, something Sharon O'Brien takes very seriously in her role as Artistic Director.
"Imagination is our greatest human resource and children are our greatest source! The students we partner with write amazing stories and we love to share them with the community." Sharon O'Brien, Artistic Director, Stories that Soar!
Sharon co-founded Stories that Soar! in 2002 and has been spreading a love of writing and imagination ever since. When the Tucson Festival of Books was conceived a few years later, Sharon jumped at the chance to be involved, "I saw it as an opportunity to part of a larger celebration of words and writers, which aligns perfectly with the work we do in Stories that Soar!"
Stories that Soar! will be performing at the 7th Annual Tucson Festival of Books on Saturday, March 14th at Noon on the Welcome to the Festival Stage (just south of the 2nd Street Garage).
Each new Stories that Soar! production begins with an all-school assembly where students are introduced to the "Magic Box" and learn that it is hungry for their original stories and ideas. The Magic Box promises to give children's words and ideas back to them in a magical way. Students are given several weeks to write as many stories as they want and feed them into the Magic Box, then the Stories that Soar! staff and cast read through each one to select the stories that will be brought to life.
For many audience members the most powerful part of each Stories that Soar! performance comes at the end when each student author and illustrator is called up on stage and recognized for their work. This empowering experience is incredibly motivating for students. Many who never viewed themselves as "bookish" become avid writers and readers. As a 5th grade teacher recently shared, "When I see students taking a personal interest in writing, the stories are richer and more thoughtful. There is more heart in stories kids want to write."
If you aren't able to see Stories that Soar! at the 2015 Festival, you can still experience the magic in their Best of Stories that Soar! performance on Sunday, May 17 at the Temple of Music Art.