About Heather McNeil.

Juliet P. Brand

Heather McNeil

  • 2017 Oregon Library Association Evelyn Sibley Lampman Award
  • 2014 Oregon Library Association Librarian of the Year
  • 2002 Honor Title, Storytelling World Award for The Celtic Breeze: Stories of the Otherworld from Scotland, Ireland and Wales
  • 2000 Oregon Library Association Intellectual Freedom Champion Award
  • 1993 Colorado Library Association Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 1981 Mountain Plains Library Association Beginning Professional Award

Iam a third-generation storyteller, following the tradition of my grandfather, aunt, and mother. Bringing stories to life is what I do, what I believe, and what I love. I represented the U.S. at international storytelling festivals in New Zealand and Scotland, and the Rocky Mountain Area at the National Storytelling Festival. My stories include folktales from around the world, myths, literary tales, scary stories, trickster tales, and stories from Kenya and Scotland based on time spent collecting stories in those countries.

I am the author of Hyena and the Moon: Stories to Tell from Kenya; The Celtic Breeze: Stories of the Otherworld from Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and Read, Rhyme, Romp: Early Literacy Skills and Activities for Librarians, Teachers and Parents, all published by Libraries Unlimited. I am currently working on another book that will focus on how to bring social-emotional learning to storytime. I am also writing for teens (a futuristic survival story, and two historical fantasies), and one for early readers about my Golden Retriever and the two grumpy cats who hope he'll go away.

I am also a Master Trainer in early literacy, certified by Portland State University. I have offered workshops for librarians, preschool teachers, and parents, demonstrating to them how books bring to life the early literacy skills a child needs to be ready to read. Presentations have included Head Start, the Central Oregon Association for the Education of Young Children, Confederation of Oregon School Administrators, Public Library Association, and multiple libraries in the Pacific Northwest.

As a children's librarian and Youth Services Manager, I have presented early literacy storytimes in libraries for forty years. Each session was the best part of my week, reading aloud amazing books, and bringing literacy-related manipulatives, songs and games, plus my sidekick Winston the sheepdog puppet, to help me establish a love of books with children ages 2-6.

My personal life began as a military brat, moving every two years and being introduced to the great diversity of life. I received my undergraduate degree in theater from the University of Missouri, and my graduate degree in library science from the University of Denver. I worked for forty years in youth services at public libraries in Colorado and Oregon. I am now enjoying spreading the word about early literacy and storytime and bringing the art of storytelling to listeners of all ages.

Mission and Values.

My storytelling is about bringing to life traditional and literary tales through my imagination and creative interpretation. I want listeners to appreciate the importance of storytelling as an oral art that has bonded people for thousands of years.

My storytime and early literacy workshops are about helping storytime readers find ways to encourage their young listeners to read, as well as to love books. It’s about bringing fun and joy and participation to every storytime.