Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
My name is Len Cabral, and I am a full-time storyteller. I have been sharing stories with children in grades K through 12 for 40 years. I travel and perform nationally and internationally at festivals, museums, theaters and educational conferences. I tell folktales, legends and fairy tales from around the world and original tales with some poetry thrown in for good measure.
When did you know you wanted to be a storyteller?
I didn’t know about storytelling when I was growing up. I knew that I loved it when my teachers read aloud to the class. I still love to hear people read aloud, and I like to read aloud myself even when I’m by myself.
When I was a kid, I was not any different from you. I thought I’d be a fireman or football player or basketball player, typical boy stuff. I did know that whatever I did when I grew up, I wanted to enjoy it. I feel blessed that I have a job that I enjoy.
Why is it important?
I realized the importance of storytelling when in the early 1970s I was working in a daycare center and I oversaw 15 five-year-olds.
That is when I discovered the importance of storytelling as a teaching tool. The teachers that we remember best from our years of schooling were the ones that told stories because stories connect us to each other and help build community. Stories also help us understand each other and lead listeners to an area of compassion and empathy
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about telling stories?
That all our ancestors, no matter where they came from, all told stories. Since the beginning of time, people have told stories, and we still tell stories — so it must be important.
I want adults to know when their children ask them for a story, they are not asking for an epic. They just want to hear a story. They want to know the time you got bit by a dog! About the time you almost got bit by a dog but ran faster than you thought you could! (That’s a story with a happy ending!) They also want to know if you ever cut yourself and had to get stitches. They want to know how you got that scar on your arm or leg or hand. I want adults and parents to tell stories to their children.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Seeing the sense of wonder on the faces of the listeners, children and adults, and also making people aware of the pleasure and power of the spoken word.