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Keynote Speaker

Ron I. Jones
2305 Englewood Ave.
Durham, NC 27705

Photo of Ron. I. Jones

I like to tell people that I grew up on a dairy farm in North Carolina in a whole family of storytellers. Living in a large family of six children, parents, grandmother, and extended family members- aunts, uncle, cousins- there was always time for a story and a willing teller. Among my earliest memories are gatherings on our porch or in the yard under sprawling oak trees listening to my grandmother tell stories. The highlight of any family reunion was always when the storytelling commenced and aunts or uncles or cousins began the tales of family adventurers and happenings. Even when working around the farm, you might get an impromptu story from an idle farmhand while sitting on the fence waiting for the cows to amble into the milk barn. So I feel that I come to my love for storytelling honestly.

For the past thirty years I have been sharing stories and songs with audiences of all ages. In schools, libraries, and at storytelling festivals throughout the southeast I have been telling traditional and contemporary folktales, classic fairy tales, as well as original stories and songs. Using guitar and songs for introducing and bridging stories together, I often involve the audience with participation stories and sing-a-longs. I believe strongly in the rich oral tradition of storytelling and the common experience it brings to us all.

With an undergraduate degree in theater, I spent several years as an actor touring with educational theater companies throughout the southeast. After receiving a Masters Degree in Library Science, I spent over twenty-two years as a Children’s Librarian and Coordinator of Youth Services for the Wake County Public Library System in Raleigh, NC. During my time with the public library I developed storytelling programs for children of all ages, founded and coordinated one of the longest running storytelling festivals in NC, and conducted storytelling workshops, as well as teaching storytelling at Meredith College in Raleigh. I left Wake County to become the Youth Services Consultant for the State Library of North Carolina in the Department of Cultural Resources. During that time I worked with libraries, schools, and other organizations throughout the state to develop and improve programs and services to the youth of North Carolina. After five years with the State Library I left in 2000 to pursue storytelling and writing full time. I received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the NC Public Library Director’s Association, the 2000 Emerging Artist Award by the Durham Arts Council, and awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by former NC Governor James B. Hunt, III.

I have been an active member of the local and national storytelling community. As a founding board member and past president of the North Carolina Storytelling Guild, I have worked closely with other storytellers throughout the state to promote and support storytellers and the art of storytelling. I served for five years as the NC Liaison to the National Storytelling Network in Jonesborough, TN.

For the past four years I have been performing throughout the southeast and New England presenting storytelling programs in schools, libraries, museums, and at conferences and festivals. I am currently touring STORIES BY THE BOOKS a storytelling program for adults with eight original stories focusing on the power and impact books and reading can have on our lives. I have released my first CD of stories and songs for children entitled I’d Rather Be a Dog…and Other Stories.

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