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Correspondent

AYER — Armed with little more than a small table to put her water on, professional storyteller Karen Chace kept an audience of Page Hilltop School first-graders entranced with her tales from around the world.

Chace said her storytelling roots come from growing up in a large Irish family full of animated storytellers.

“I love what I do,” she said. “I believe that storytelling nurtures students. It offers them opportunities to succeed in ways they never imagined.”

Ellen McCann, a first-grade teacher at Page Hilltop, wrote a successful grant to the Ayer Education Foundation (AEF) to bring Chace to her students.

“We’re so happy to be able to help programs like this come into the school,” said AEF Co-president Sheila Kelly. “This kind of enrichment opportunity builds on the teachers’ curriculum and allows for creative learning to take place outside of the classroom.”

Chace presented her program, “Book a Trip Around the World,” May 2. During her performance, she instructed her listeners to “buckle up and travel to six continents on the wings of stories without ever leaving home.”

With an extremely attentive audience, she told stories of the “Cicada and the Coyote,” “Tiddalick the Frog” and “Anansi the Spider.”

“I really liked the coyote story because we got to howl, and I’m really good at howling,” said first-grader Luke McKenna.

Chace, who hails from East Freetown, Mass., said she wholeheartedly believes in the power of stories. Studies have shown that if students are given information in the form of a story, she said, they will retain it better than if they just read it.

She also referenced Kendall Haven’s book, “Story Proof,” when talking about other benefits of telling and listening to tales.

“Through story, children can access their imagination and they become more creative thinkers,” she said.

McCann pointed out to her students that they had just taken a trip around the world without leaving the room.

“We did not need a TV or a movie screen,” she said. “We got to ‘see’ the world by just listening and watching Ms. Chace. Now that’s the power of a good story.”

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