PROSPECT — Len Cabral wants to tell a story that may or may not be entirely true.
Cabral, an internationally acclaimed storyteller hailing from Cranston, R.I., visited Long River Middle School Nov. 20 to spin a few tales.
With a variety of hand motions and voices, Cabral opened with a story about a large, muscular man and his friends who had littered, and the way Cabral’s brother asked them to pick up their trash.
Instead of pointing out the mess they left behind, Cabral’s brother jokingly asks the men if he could have all the trash they leave behind. Asking them to pick up their trash in a funny manner diffused a fight before it started and got the desired results.
The story concluded with the moral that it is not what you say, but how you say it that is important.
Cabral, who has been traveling around and telling stories for nearly 37 years, explained he discovered the importance of storytelling while working in a daycare.
“I used to work in a daycare center back in the early 70s, and I was in charge of 15 5-year-olds,” said Cabral. “That was when I discovered the importance of storytelling and reading allowed to young children.”
He said that he would tell the children stories to get them to settle down for nap time or lunch time.
Whether it’s knowing who your real friends are, building bridges through respect and kindness, or the importance of a second language, the stories that Cabral told the Long River students gathered in the gym all had a moral at the end.
The one point that Cabral returned to multiple times throughout his presentation was the fact that everyone has a story to tell.
He asked the students to raise their hands if they had ever been bit by a dog and, when many of them did, he informed them that they had a story to tell because of that.
Cabral then asked if any of the students had almost been bit by a dog, but got away at the last moment.
“That’s called a story with a happy ending,” Cabral told the students who raised their hands.
He also told them that every scar they have has a story behind it.
The students aren’t the only ones with stories to tell, Cabral said. He told them that their parents and grandparents would all have stories to tell them.
Cabral’s interest in storytelling was installed in him growing up. He said he has always loved stories that were read aloud.
“When I was growing up, even in high school, I loved it when my teachers would read aloud from some good prose,” Cabral said.
That led him to study the importance of reading in the classroom; a topic which he actually holds a workshop on for teachers.
In addition to telling stories at school, Cabral said that he tells stories at libraries, museums, and festivals. He has been to festivals in Ireland, England, and Belgium, as well as locations throughout South America and Asia.
“At the festivals, it’s mostly adults,” Cabral told the students.