Reaching out to vulnerable and under-privileged children: the launch of Anna Conomos, Jean Russell Storyteller 2016


The 2016 conference Building Bridges, Making Connections, Growing Readers opened and closed with a focus on myth, folk tale and legend.  Anna Conomos, Jean Russell Storyteller 2016, closed the conference and launched the project with a stunning performance of an old Persian tale, thereby provided a neat link to opening speaker Katherine Rundell, who had shared her love of Russian folk tales with an enthralled audience two days before.

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The Jean Russell Storyteller Project focuses on the vulnerable and under-privileged in our community , bringing the joy of stories to children in hospital, in schools in deprived areas, to young carers and to children in deprived communities across the UK. Jean Russell was a member of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups in its early days, working closely with founder, Anne Wood. She was always passionate about stories, as they had helped her when she was ill in hospital as a child.

As Katherine explained and Jean Russell’s experience  had demonstrated, the power of stories is timeless. Stories reach our innermost hearts; they help us to confront our deepest fears; they facilitate our understanding of our own stories and of those of those around us. Stories bind us together: adults, children, cultures.  They provide escapism and they help us to cope with difficulties in life.

So, Anna told us a story…about the Sultan and his skinny wife, the poor man and his fat wife and the ‘meat of the tongue’ – the power of storytelling to feed our innermost soul.


The Federation of Children’s Book Groups is working with six groups during 2016 to share the power of the story. The first event takes place in partnership with the Education Other Than At School (EOTAS) department in Swindon’s Great Western Hospital on Thursday 14th April, creating stories with chronically ill children.

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One response to “Reaching out to vulnerable and under-privileged children: the launch of Anna Conomos, Jean Russell Storyteller 2016”

  1. Denise Lawrence says:

    Anna is an amazing storyteller. Those of us at the conference were lucky enough to experience Anna’s unique style. We didn’t just hear the story, – she made us live the story as it enfolded in front of us, we were part of it. She is truly gifted, and funny!