27 January 2018

Storytelling is an age old form of human communication: a way to tell others of our experiences, dreams, ideas and feelings, whether through the spoken word or in writing. With National Storytelling Week drawing to a close for its eighteenth consecutive year, we asked some Penguin Random House colleagues to tell us what storytelling means to them:

Roy, Audio Book Producer:

What makes a great story?

With a great storyteller, you can’t wait to find out what happens next. With a great writer, you don’t care what happens next, you just want them to keep telling you about it. And when the two come together, it is truly, really, literally magical. People say that you can lose yourself in a good book; but you don’t. You find yourself. You are released from the bonds and obligations necessary to living, and able to roam inside yourself, free to explore adventure, terror, delight, joy, bemusement, puzzle, romance, intellectual engagement or fantastical imagining. And also to face complex questions about everything that exists, has ever existed or might exist. 

Who do you like to read with?

I have two children who are still of an age to enjoy being read to, though old enough for it to be on their terms. Quite often I’ll offer a story to be met with ‘No, thanks’. But for all that it’s a cliché, when they do want to be read to, or have a story invented for them, that is a joy. And as a bonus, they also sometimes read to me because they have to for school.

What does storytelling mean to you?

It’s my job to tell stories – that’s what I do, either by producing/directing the readings or occasionally by reading the books myself. Before that, I worked in radio, and before that as an actor. So storytelling means everything to me.

Kim, Development Coordinator and Volunteer Reader

What is it about your favourite book that makes a great story?

One of my favourite books is When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. The book captures his journey and perspective from practitioner to patient and is a true account of how cruel but beautiful life can be. He explores elements of what makes human life meaningful, which I find fascinating, and his poetic language makes you relish every page.

Who do you like to read with?

My three beautiful nieces in Cardiff, and James, the boy I read with as part of our colleague volunteer reading scheme.

What do you like about volunteer reading?

It’s such a fun and rewarding experience. The focus is to help develop the child’s confidence, social skills and literacy skills, which is awesome, and it provides me with an opportunity to make a positive contribution to my community.

Meet our volunteer readers

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