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Storyteller Lynn Rubright shares "The Little Red the Folktale Hen"

Storyteller rubright with cameraman Renowned storyteller, author and educator Lynn Rubright shared her unique version of the classic folktale, “The Little Red the Folktale Hen,” with Jackson Park first-grade students on May 13, 2019, co-sponsored by the 40th Annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival.

Rubright is a long-time friend of The School District of University City, and her recent visit had a multi-fold purpose.

While sharing Little Red’s tale, she and the students were recorded by KETC Channel 9 for a special episode celebrating the Storytelling Festival. The show is expected to air on the local PBS network later this summer.

In 2005, U. City resident and former District music and performing arts teacher Diane Davenport integrated Rubright’s book, “Mama’s Window,” into District curriculum. The story became a cross-curricular theme for lessons, and various community and arts organizations were invited into classrooms to help with art and drama projects related to the story. Mama’s Window was studied and later performed as a play by students of various grade-levels across in the District.

It is their hope that Little Red Hen will spark the same exciting literacy and artistic activities across the school district.

Rubright’s version of The Little Red Hen focused on friendship and helping one another.

“The traditional Little Red Hen is harsh in its lesson - if you do not work you do not eat,” Rubright said. “My version includes asking the question: When should you help another person by being generous, kind and loving, and show empathy and compassion, and even demonstrate the need to sacrifice?”

Davenport and Rubright She and Davenport hope that, again, storytelling will enable classroom and outside community partnerships. Davenport expects to extend the learning experiences to include creative movement, music and drama.

“This collaboration could eventually involve the entire community and be a model demonstrating the intergenerational healing power of storytelling in our lives,” Rubright said.

After sharing her engaging story, Rubright invited students to share a little story with her and their classmates. They ranged from a version of The Three Little Bears a story of a caterpillar that died and magically came back to life.

In preparation for the special day, students read various versions of The Little Red Hen so they could compare the style of Rubright’s musical, storytelling version with the more traditional versions they read previously. This facilitated classroom discussions about generosity, kindness and goals to make dreams or visions come true through hard work.

The new partnership between U. City Schools and the St. Louis Storytelling Festival plans to design interdisciplinary programs for students at all grade levels to use storytelling and the arts to promote literacy. Further activities may include drawing pictures of their favorite characters and dance and theatrical performances.

“There are other interdisciplinary activities in The Little Red book I have given to the teachers to extend the story in the classroom to practice literacy skills,” Rubright added. "This (the partnership) is a humanities program to help students understand and demonstrate compassion, empathy, kindness, and forgiveness."

The partnership is headed by Lisa Overholzer, Ph.D., director of the St. Louis Storytelling Festival, and Sharonica Hardin-Bartley, Ed.D., superintendent of schools with support for coordination by District curriculum coordinator for English language arts and social studies Tracy Hinds, Ed.D., 

The Jackson Park storytelling visit was coordinated by school library media specialist Pat McGarvin and school principal Rebecca O'Connell, Ed.D.

More information about Lynn Rubright is available at

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