Storyteller's anti-bullying message starts with a song about kindnessBy NANCY BEAN FOSTER
Union Leader Correspondent January 13. 2013 11:30PM
HENNIKER - Reaching kids with the message that bullying is wrong and doesn't need to be tolerated can happen in a lot of ways, but at Henniker Community School, a character named Odds Bodkin paid a visit Friday to help spread the word.
In two assemblies on Friday morning, elementary and middle school students had a chance to meet Bodkins, a a storyteller, children's author, and musician who brings stories to life with hundreds of character voices, vocal effects and live music.
Bodkin, who has been entertaining kids since 1982, recently added educator to his list of titles when he realized his stories could be used to teach as well as entertain. In a world where bullying is something everyone understands, Bodkin thought he could place his focus on kindness.
"I realized that I had in my repertoire stories that fit the theme of compassion and thinking of others," said Bodkin. "Students' eyes don't glaze over when I'm telling a story, and it's a softer approach to addressing some very difficult issues present in our culture today."
Bodkin shares his stories with kids of various age groups and then follows up with brief ethics questions for the students to answer.
Using a 12-string guitar and a Celtic harp, Bodkin captured the attention of the kids and held it throughout the performances.
Students in Grades 3 to 5 with Odds Bodkin focused on a program called "The Golden Rule" that featured three tales with music and character voices designed to show that kindness works best. Bullying was not mentioned during the performance. Instead, the stories teach by example.
The sixth- through eighth-graders watched Bodkins walk and talk "A Mile in My Shoes: Tales of Compassion," which borrows stories of compassion from different countries including "Yudisthira at the Silver Mountain," from India, an old Aesop Fable titled "Boys and Frogs," and a tale from Japan called "The Stone Cutter."
"In Henniker we like to take a proactive approach with climate and culture of our school environment, and these performances are just one way we try to be ahead of any problem," said Assistant Principal Karen Raymond.
The Odds Bodkin performance is part of the school's continuing focus on kindness through their AOK (Acts of Kindness) program.
The program encourages kids to perform, and document, acts of kindness throughout the year to honor themselves and encourage others.