education

Spellbound with stories

Jeffco storytellers bring imaginative tales to students

Posted 2/24/14

Third-graders sit in the library of Shelton Elementary in Golden, eyes fixed on the man that even the librarian knows only as Grandbear.

“Bubble? Bubble?” Grandbear, aka Lev Ropes, says in a comically befuddled voice.

Listening to …

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education

Spellbound with stories

Jeffco storytellers bring imaginative tales to students

Posted

Third-graders sit in the library of Shelton Elementary in Golden, eyes fixed on the man that even the librarian knows only as Grandbear.

“Bubble? Bubble?” Grandbear, aka Lev Ropes, says in a comically befuddled voice.
Listening to Grandbear’s original tale of a mysterious bubble that appears in town, the children giggle every time he repeats the word.

“I have a movie running in my head when I tell a story, and I hope they do too,” Ropes said following storytime.

Ropes, and a band of storytellers like him, make up the Jeffco chapter of the national nonprofit group, Spellbinders. Founded in Colorado in 1988, the organization was initially founded as a way for retired volunteers to become involved with the youth and schools.

Ropes said the 70 storytellers of the Jeffco chapter told more than 3,600 tales in county schools last year.

Grandbear, a family nickname used by his grandchildren, spins stories for around 260 children a month, and has been a Spellbinder for 14 years now.
“I started (storytelling) when I retired,” Ropes said.

A former singer, dancer, mechanic, photographer, and more, Ropes said he didn’t really find his niche until he started storytelling. He said after telling tales for everyone from first graders to senior citizens, third grade was truly the age group he found he liked to perform for the most.

“And for an old guy like me, taking medications, these kids are the best prescription,” Ropes said.

The 79-year-old storyteller certainly does seem to come alive as he tells his tale to the children — walking, gesturing, mimicking, and making silly words with silly voices, earning the attention and laughter of his audience.

“Bubble? People, that bubble isn’t a bubble. That bubble is some trouble. And being some trouble, I’m going to turn it into rubble!” Ropes proclaims, speaking as the misguided king of the story.

As the story continues, the foolish king ends up stuck inside of the bubble and it is up to a smart little girl to rescue him and save the day.

Ropes said it is hard to describe the thrill of connection he feels when storytelling, but he highly recommends it, whether by reading a story to a child in the family, or performing before a group.

“It goes back to before written language — we are hardwired to story. And it’s been shown that we learn better and remember more when something is told to us in story form,” Ropes said.

As for storytelling advice, Grandbear says: “Tell a story you really like and want to tell, and that will resonate with the kids.”

For those interested in Spellbinders, contact Barbara B. Morrissey, Training Coordinator, at bb.morrissey@comcast.net.

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