Hidden Gem: Storytelling from Bill Martin Jr.

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Cover image of the children's book Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?, written by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by Eric CarleIf you don’t know the name Bill Martin Jr., you probably know the name of his most famous book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, illustrated by Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar.) Just two years after that book was published, Martin spoke at an education conference at UA, the audio of which has recently been digitized as part of the Alabama Reel to Reel Collection.

Martin was an educator as well as a storyteller. He came to reading through memorizing and reciting poetry, and he believed that others might do the same (source). His children’s books are full of clever but simple rhymes, and his spoken storytelling was driven by the same impulse to create interesting rhythms and sounds.

Martin was here at UA in 1969 to give a speech about education, but like a good storyteller, he couldn’t begin until he’d captured his audience’s attention. Give a listen to Martin’s speech, especially the first eight minutes, where he takes the audience “up in the mountains” to hear the tale of a fiddler and his trip to the Essex County Fair.

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