I am built from stories


Lauren Batterbee

This is my favorite page in my favorite childhood book—I Wear My Tutu Everywhere!

From the Frances the Badger books to Little Critter, I loved listening to stories when I was little. 

All of the greats were in my family’s repertoire: Arthur, Amelia Bedilia, Berenstain Bears, Fancy Nancy, and Raggedy Anne. Also included in these were little, lesser-known books I picked out based on the pictures or my mom picked to read to me, like my younger self’s all-time favorite books: I Wear My Tutu Everywhere! or That’s Not My Fairy. 

I loved to hear the stories I knew so well. I was always on the edge of their laps waiting to discover what happens next. I loved to hear the way my dad said “all by myself,” and I loved the way my mom let me relish in the pictures and laugh with me, even though she had read the books thousands of times before with me and my siblings. 

When I started to read, I got addicted to Bob Books which were designed for helping kids learn to read, but I loved the stories that were told within the learning. 

I continued to read those books I so long ago loved, but I started reading them alone. I was growing up. I could do it just like the little critter—all by myself. 

But I didn’t completely turn my cheek to oral storytelling. I still had them read to me, and I took turns reading to them. My mom started reading Alice in Wonderland to me, my sister started to read Harry Potter to me. 

A picture of me (left) reading with Liza McCarthy (right)

And then there were the other stories. The ones that sprang from the imaginations of those I love. The stories from late-night chats as my siblings and I had “sleepovers.” The stories I was told of a time before I was even imagined. The stories of my youth that I never could have remembered. 

My favorite fictional story came from my sister’s imagination. It was about a princess—I always was entranced by princesses. A princess in a land of shampoo and fruits. Though I don’t think she ever finished it, I always looked forward to hearing what would happen next in her world. 

Now I have moved on to the chapter books and the stories my sister picks out based on what she likes, and my mom picks out based on what I like, and they always find the best books—Mandy and The Jewel series to name a few. And now, I have moved on from the captivated listener to the imaginative storyteller. 

I could do it just like the little critter—all by myself. ”

Making worlds out of thin air, taking myself to them, living as the characters live, remembering my recollections from the depths of my long term memory—the ones my emotions don’t play as much and were close to fading before I brought them up—are all the reasons I love storytelling. 

I love to hear what people think about them. I love to see what I come up with because as I’m writing, I don’t fully take it in. I am as immersed in the story as I would be living it, so only after I finish can I understand that I just came up with a story and kept researching and blindly putting down words—did I really use that fancy word? I don’t remember saying that. 

I am a storyteller. I learned from the best. And I hope to be able to make a difference in someone’s life. I hope to inspire and give people a vacation from real life, just as the stories I heard and the books I’ve read have done for me.