Summer Reading Program Tour Schedule

Below you will find a list of the places where I’ll be traveling to perform this summer. Wherever I have included a time and location, the performance is free and open to the public. However, you may want to check with the library to see if you need to register. I look forward to a fun and exciting summer as always and hope to see lots of familiar faces as well as new ones. So please feel free to share this post and tell your friends. For more info on this summer’s show, Let the Games Begin, click here.


Summer Reading Program Annual Tour

June 7th:

10:30am – Bellbrook Branch Library (Greene Co.)

1:00pm – Yellow Springs Branch Library (Greene Co.)

6:30pm – West Milton Public Library


June 8th:

10:30am – Jamestown Branch Library (Greene Co.)

1:30pm – Cedarville Branch Library (Greene Co.)


June 15th:

1:30pm – Selover Library


June 17th:

2:00pm – Rodman Public Library (Alliance, OH)


June 21st:

3:00pm – Chauncey Branch Library (Athens Co.)

6:30pm – Athens Branch Library (Athens Co.)


June 22nd:

11:00am – Glouster Branch Library (Athens Co.)

3:00pm – Coolville Branch Library (Athens Co.)


June 23rd:

Summer Genius Camp (Arts in Stark & Plain Local Schools)


June 28th:

1:30pm – Aurora Library

7:00pm – Solon Library (Cuyahoga Co.)


June 29th:

2:00 pm – Richfield Library (Akron-Summit Co.)


June 30th:

2:00pm – Dover Public Library


July 6th:

1:00pm – Wadsworth Public Library


July 7th:

11:00am – Perry Sippo Branch Library (Stark Co.)

2:00pm – Main Library (Stark Co.)


July 9th:

11:30am – Kent Free Library


July 13th:

11:00am – Girard Library


July 14th:

11:00am – Portage Lakes Library (Akron-Summit Co.)


July 19th:

11:00am – Lakewood Public Library (Lakewood, NY)

6:30pm – Orange Branch Library (Cuyahoga Co.)


July 20th:

2:00pm – Akron Main Library (Akron-Summit Co.)


July 23rd:

Annual Preemie Party at Metro-Health


July 27th:

CSLA (Church and Synagogue Library Association) Tell Your Story Conference


Why Being the Best Is Over-Rated

Over the last few months, I’ve become keenly aware of what a competitive culture we live in. From hearing stories about high school athletes intentionally harming opposing players in order to win to seeing political debates in which candidates will say anything to gain ground against their opponents — there is a huge emphasis placed on being the best. I think it’s a tension that we all feel, even in spheres of our lives that might not seem competitive on the surface.

This competitive spirit creeps up on us in the most innocent-seeming ways. The other day my son was watching a cartoon program geared toward small children about a boy named Joe. In this episode, a Joe’s father had earned a trophy for making the best ice cream in a local competition. Joe loved the trophy and wanted to keep it, but his father told him that he had to earn one for himself. “How do I do that?” asked Joe. His father then explained to him that there had been many people in the ice-cream making competition but only one of them (him!) had made the best ice cream. “To get a trophy you have to be the best at something,” he told his son.

I don’t know what happened after that because I changed the channel. Perhaps you will think I over-reacted. Or that I’m anti-competition. I’m not. Competition can be a great thing — especially when it helps to bring out the best that is within us. However, I think the subtle cultural message that many of us hear from the time we are young is that we have to be the best at something in order to gain approval or to be a person of value. That’s not something I agree with, and it’s not a message I want my son (or any child!) being bombarded with at a tender age. I don’t want him to think that life is about winning trophies. I don’t want him to think that the more trophies he has, the better or more valuable he is — never mind who he has to push or what negative thing he has to say to get them.

More than ingraining in my son the idea that he has to be the best at anything, I want to ingrain in him the idea that he has to be a person of character. A person of character doesn’t win every time because winning isn’t their only goal. A person of character can see that the feelings and overall well-being of others is more important than coming out on top. In fact, sometimes their unselfish pursuit of these other values may keep them from coming out on top — and that’s okay.

And so as I’ve spent so much time reflecting on this in recent months, I guess it’s only fitting that this summer I’ll be sharing stories about sports and competition. Interestingly enough, the common thread in all the sporty stories I’ll be telling is that it’s not about being the biggest, the fastest, or the best — instead, what matters most is being a person of character.

In one of the stories from Africa, Cheetah and Antelope are racing to see who is the fastest. Antelope is winning by a landslide until he crashes, breaking a leg. In that moment, Cheetah has a choice — one we will most likely all be faced with at some point. He can take advantage of his opponent’s misfortune and sprint across the finish line OR he can stop and help the injured antelope. He does the latter and receives a reward. But perhaps the greatest lesson in the story — and one I hope I can teach my son as well as all those with whom I get the chance to share this story and others— is that having character is its own reward.

When a Laundry Basket Isn’t a Laundry Basket: The Gift of Imagination

Imagination is a wonderful thing. I’ve always had what might best be described as an over-active imagination. If my ideas weren’t keeping me awake at night, they’d have me waking at the crack of dawn — racing for the nearest pen and paper to jot down my latest inspiration. To this day I try to keep a notebook nearby at all times because one never knows when inspiration will strike! I’ve learned from experience that just as quickly as brilliant ideas come, they will just as quickly vanish into thin air. It’s best to be prepared!

I’ve got notebooks full of ideas just waiting to be developed. Some ideas get worked on right away and come together with ease. Some I come back to months, even years later. Some may never be used at all — but every idea is important and may be the spark for something else.

What’s been fascinating to me lately is to watch my young son’s imagination develop. I don’t think I’d ever really considered how early the imagination came into play. At 22 months old, I’m blown away by how much imagination and creative play are part of his daily life.

He has turned our laundry baskets into boats. He serves tea, water and pizza from his play kitchen to anyone who will sit at his child-sized table (and he’s quick to offer a refill if he sees you’ve downed your beverage!) Every night he drags my husband from the dinner table to play “Meow,” a game where the two of them crawl on the floor like cats. Every morning we listen to his favorite CD of train music. As we chug around an art easel in my office, he waves at the pictures we’ve drawn, saying, “Bye-bye Mama! Bye-bye baby! Bye-bye plane! Bye-bye donkey! . . and the list goes on.

One of my favorite lines from my film Flight to India is:

“An imagination is a terrible thing to waste.”

I believe that with every fiber of my being. Part of my job is to help people of all ages tap into their imagination. I take that role seriously because I am convinced that the power of imagination can change the world. No one is too old or too young to use their imagination. So what are you waiting for? Let yours take flight!

The Gift of Story: A Perfect Fit for “Children” of All Ages

It’s funny how as soon as people hear I’m a storyteller, they assume that I work with children. While that’s mostly true, it’s not entirely true. Occasionally I get the opportunity to tell stories to groups of adults. Whenever I do, it’s always an absolute blast. I love seeing adults let their “inner child” come out to play. It seems like there’s something about putting on a goofy costume hat that will bring out the child in anybody. On top of this, I’ve never met anyone who can’t relate to a folktale — no matter what part of the world it’s coming from. Folktales are exactly that — tales of the common folk — and they strike at the core of what it means to be human, whatever your age, race or cultural background.

This past December I had the opportunity to perform “Rabbit’s Christmas Gift,” my adaptation of a story based on a Chinese folktale, at a Christmas party for retired Salvation Army officers. It was wonderful to share this story about giving and thinking of others first with a group of people who know all about both of those things — particularly during the Christmas season. The majority of Salvation Army officers that I have known work tirelessly during the holiday season. Their efforts to provide a Merry Christmas for the less fortunate often take away from their ability to enjoy the season with their own friends and loved ones. (I have even heard stories of Salvation Army officers and their families who put up their Christmas tree in October or earlier — otherwise, they’ll never have a chance to do it!) It truly is a ministry of sacrifice.

Below are some photos from the performance that show that “children” of all ages love a good story!

The Goat family considering the gift they will give as Rabbit looks on.

New Mother’s Day Program: Celebrate Mom!

“The tie which links mother and child is of such pure and immaculate strength as to be never violated.”
-Washington Irving

There’s something super-special about the bond of a mother and her child. You could almost call it magical. What better way to celebrate that special bond than with stories!

Last year I got a grant from Arts in Stark to do a storytelling series for the Young Moms Club at the Stark County District Library. The series was called Mom and Me Storytelling and was designed to show moms how to bring stories to life with their children. The unique part of the program was that instead of leaving my son, Rafael, home on a performance day like I normally do — this time I took him along and the other moms were encouraged to bring their children as well. Each week we creatively explored a new folktale celebrating the mother-child bond alongside our children. It was a beautiful experience for me because as a new mom I was able to involve my son in the work that I love so much and give other moms that same experience.

After putting together the series, I realized that I had a number of wonderful stories celebrating the mother-child bond, and that it would be fun to make them available for Mother’s Day celebrations or other special occasions. So without further ado, here it is — my new program. . . .

Celebrate Mom!

A special selection of stories to celebrate the special bond between mothers and their children. Perfect for a special Mother’s Day celebration or any time of year. Possible stories include the Kangaroo’s Pouch (Australia), The Cheetah’s Tears (Africa), Mother Groundhog (Ojibwa), The Lion’s Whisker (Africa) and The Three Frilly Goats Fluff (an adaptation of the popular Norwegian folktale.)

For more info or to reserve a date, contact me at or (330) 858-0761.

I hope to have the chance to Celebrate Mom! with you soon.