Storytime: Chandra and the Elephants

This mathematical folktale from India shows just how powerful a young girl with a head for numbers can be! When the foolish Raja underestimates her, Chandra uses exponential growth to teach him a lesson.

If you enjoy this story, please consider buying me a coffee: 

Did you know trees can talk?


Did you know that trees can talk?

If you enjoy this video, please consider buying me a coffee:!

This story is a brilliant way to spark kids’ interest in ecology. Best for ears aged 6 and over. An original story inspired by ecologist Suzanne Simard’s TED talk ‘How trees talk to each other’.

Incredible photography from Unsplash by: Lukasz Szmigiel, Sebastian Unrau, Steven Kamenar, Valeriy Andrushko, Gustav Gullstrand, Micah Hallahan, Dan Stark, Subtle Cinematics, Martin Sepion, John Tecuceanu, Johann Siemens, Camille Brodard, Tomas Tuma, Michael Hacker, Arnaud Mesureur, Matt Artz, Pine Watt, Johannes Plenio, Johannes Plenio, Sebastian Engler, Jan Huber, Gerrie van der Walt, Austin D, with two of my own images sneaked in.

Story stones: spark your storytelling creativity!

Looking for some easy activities for kids? Why not make these storytelling stones from the activity book, Show Me a Story? You can use paper, fabric or anything you have lying around!
If you have young children around, make sure the stones are too big to be a choking hazard.
1. Find some stones in warm water
2. Choose coloured paper, fabric or paints
3. Think of some fun animals, people, places or magical beings that could make a fun story
4. Stick your creations onto the stones with glue
5. Once dry, give them one last coat of a clear drying glue, like PVA
6. Leave them to dry
7. You’re ready to start making stories!

Some me a Story by by Emily K. NeuburgerStones in progress

Stories from other cultures

As a child, I was always drawn to stories from faraway lands. For my baptism, aged 8, my godmother gave me an A-Z of the world. It featured disparate groups, tribes and locations, all of whom were under threat of disadvantage of some kind. I prayed for these people from my bedroom in South-East England.

My grandparents met at a hockey match in India in the 1930’s. My grandfather had been posted there with the British Army. My grandmother was working as a nanny to a British family and had required parental permission to travel overseas as an unmarried woman under  21. I’ve always marvelled at how much pluck such a trip that must have required at that time. They were married quickly on the eve of World War Two and later lived in Penang, Malaysia with their two young sons. In her 80’s, her small bungalow was filled with deep mahogany carved ornaments and furniture collected on her travels.

Whenever I travel or work as a nanny I often think of her. She was warm and patient and made friends easily with children and adults alike. Three years after her death I made my own way to India, my flight her last gift to me.

Ever since I began telling traditional tales professionally I have tried to source stories from as many diverse places as possible. Many of my favourite stories, short in length and rich in warmth, have originated from East or West Africa.

This year I finally took the plunge and made my first visit to East Africa. To Kenya, and Tanzania then onwards to the South; Zambia and Botswana. I then returned to India and visited Sri Lanka. If I hadn’t heard stories from these places it never would have occurred to me to go. I’m also aware that any stories that reach me in Britain would be told through the lens of post-colonialism, and that countless stories and cultures have been lost and brutalised by the horrors of colonialism.

I stayed with local people and taught in local schools. I travelled halfway across the world, spoke English the entire way and never once had to even drive on the opposite side of the road. I heard countless stories, both personal and traditional.

Now I’m in Australia. Back in Western society. In a country where colonialism essentially still exists. Where white people tack respects to traditional owners of the land onto their email signatures from their concrete towers built upon sacred land.

And all I can think is that I’m not ready to stop listening. I want to hear more stories from cultures other than my own. And I don’t want to just hear them from someone like myself.