Upside Down

World Storytelling Day: The Land of Upside Down

The greatest storyteller ever known is my grandpa Arkie.

He’s been a storytelling tour de force for as long as I can remember (he just turned 99 last week!). As a canned soup salesman and entrepreneur, he lived off his story and the ability to inspire and entertain others with his words.

In the world of amazing storytellers, his daughter (my mother) comes in a close second.

She used to read me fairy tales as a kid. And like most youngsters, I would get obsessed about a certain story and make her tell it to me over and over… and over again. To the point where she got so sick of Jack and the Beanstalk that one day — she turned it completely inside out.

Jack was a very rich man, with more money than he knew what to do with.

He bought a giant bushel of magic beans and when he planted them…

The massive stalk grew… down, down, down into the ground.

Jack climbed down, and when he reached the bottom of the bean stalk…

There was a tiny man with a giant voice…

“Noooooo!,” I went absolutely mad over the way she changed the story, except I loved it.

Now with a 5-year-old in my own household, we play the game of the Land of Upside Down. In this magical land, you sleep during the day and you play at night. You eat ice cream for breakfast, and cereal for dinner. We delight in telling these tales — and taking turns coming up with variations of — stories so opposite from life here on Earth that it leaves us giggling almost every time.

Storytelling is an art that’s been passed down through generations in my family. And I’d bet that it’s the same for you. Who are the best storytellers in your family? And what were the favorite tales you remember from your childhood?

Now imagine if you grew up never hearing any of those stories.

No fairy tales. No stories about crazy Uncle Jimmy and his year-long trek around the globe. No snuggling up next to the fireplace and being transported to a place far, far away…

Lucky for us, there’s a worldwide event going on next week that’s working to make sure no kid ever grows up without the stories of their ancestors.

Celebrate Global Storytelling

World Storytelling Day is a world-wide observance of the art of oral storytelling. It’s celebrated every year on the spring equinox, and this year it’s on Monday, March 20th.

The organizers aim to bring storytelling magic to as many people – in as many languages and as many places – as possible. And with events this year in locales from Albuquerque and Alberta to Sydney and San Miguel de Allende, they’re well on their way.

Storytellers around the globe will recite classic folktales and transformational stories. They’ll turn frogs into princes, and gaze into the sizzling fire of the blacksmith’s forge. Spinning spellbinding tales out of thin air.

All in the name of this year’s theme: transformation.

So how can you get involved?

Tell Transformational Tales

To take part in World Storytelling Day, check out their global calendar of events. If you don’t see something happening in your neck of the woods, you can organize your own event.

Or just get a few friends together this weekend, gather around the fire with a mug of hot chocolate, and share your favorite tales.

You can also join in online using the hashtag #WorldStory17.

And if you want to dig a little deeper into how to tell a transformational story, sign up for our free video series, How to Tell a World-Changing Story.