4th Annual Evanston Public Library Storytelling Festival: October 19-21, 2018


2017 Storytelling Festival Images
Photography by Lynn Trautmann, LT Photo.

2017 Featured Storytellers:


Bilingual storyteller, speech/language pathologist and percussionist Mama Edie McLoud Armstrong has a warm, vibrant and interactive style that affirms for audiences of all ages that they are truly gifts to the world.  For more than 20 years, Mama Edie has provided performances, workshops and keynotes that encourage self-knowledge and appreciation, social justice, personal empowerment and the joys of embracing diversity. Her original and traditional stories and songs may include English, Spanish, Cherokee, Yoruba, Sanskrit, Twi and more! She has performed in various festivals around the world and was recently showcased at the 2017 Annual Conference of the National Storytelling Network in Kansas City, KS. She served for nine years as the National Membership Chair of the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc.; was Founding Co-Chair of Ase: the Chicago Association of Black Storytellers; and served on the transitional Board of Directors for Illinois Storytelling, Inc. She has published original stories and research articles on language development and literacy through storytelling, music and movement. Whether fun and frolicky or somber and serene, Mama Edie’s stories bring out the light that everyone has inside.



Jessica Carleton has been storytelling professionally for over 20 years, performing and teaching writing and storytelling at schools, libraries, and festivals around the country. She has performed several times at the National Storytelling Conference, and in the Exchange place at the National Storytelling Festival. Jess was honored to be a recipient of NSN’s J.J. Reneaux mentorship grant in 2011, and was deeply grateful for the opportunity to be mentored by the brilliant Jay O’Callahan.

As an actress and writer, Jessica has been honored to win four National Daytime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series (2014). She was an actor, the Head Writer, and puppet designer on over 400 episodes of the national children’s TV show Green Screen Adventures (MeTV). She now lives in LA and writes for shows including Puppy Dog Pals on Disney Junior, Sesame StreetCurious George, and Arthur. Performance credits include Chicago Fire on NBC and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter on stage at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. She is a graduate of Northwestern University in Theatre and Creative Writing for the Media. She is beyond thrilled to be back in Evanston with her storytelling family.



Dan Keding, an award winning storyteller of international acclaim, is well known for his telling of traditional world folktales, personal narratives of his boyhood in Chicago, ghost stories and dark tales, original pieces and the ballads of Britain, Ireland and North America. Dan’s storytelling journey started as a child when his grandmother taught him the traditional folktales that she had learned growing up in Croatia. Dan has performed at festivals, schools, libraries, colleges, and concert halls across America, England, Ireland and Canada. He has been featured multiple times at the National Storytelling Festival, and was inducted into the Circle of Excellence by the National Storytelling Network. He has made over a dozen recordings and has authored six books. Dan tells the old stories from times long ago and people almost forgotten, and he tells the stories of his own journey and the people whom he will never forget.



Jay O’Callahan, author, storyteller and workshop leader, has performed his stories in New Zealand, Lincoln Center, The Abbey Theater in Dublin, Africa, the National Fine Arts Complex in London, and throughout the United States. He was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for performance excellence. His work has been heard on National Public Radio. Jay has been commissioned to write stories by various groups including NASA to celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Quebec Labrador Foundation, Lehigh University, and The Boston Symphony Orchestra. Jay’s newest story, Falling for Emily Dickinson, takes the listener into the poet’s mysterious and passionate world. Time Magazine has called his work “genius.”


Nationally acclaimed and multiple award-winning storyteller La’Ron Williams shares both original and traditional tales that appeal to a wide range of ages and social backgrounds. His energetic, music-spiced presentations are always fun, highly participatory, educational, and entertaining. Every program is specifically designed to promote diversity, foster community building, encourage peaceful conflict resolution, and teach a host of “pro-social” skills, including empathy, self-expression and attentive listening. Williams has received high praise for his skill at presenting diversity workshops for adults, helping participants understand the nature of “invisible” bias and moving beyond the emotional stumbling blocks that prevent us from taking collective responsibility for creating a just and equitable society.



Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.