Tom Standard reads a story on his Facebook Group, Tales Tom Told.

SUMNER — Ever wonder how an elephant got his long trunk? Want to hear Aesop’s Fables read aloud? Tom Standard, a storyteller and retired NASA scientist, will spin the yarn and tell the tale for you.

In a normal year, Standard would be visiting Dirigo Elementary School in Peru and Hartford-Sumner elementary School in Sumner, a tradition he started a few years ago after he became involved with the Regional School District 10’s Budget Committee and was persuaded to volunteer.

But this year is not a normal year, with children learning from home. So Standard decided to bring the stories to the students.

Planning to record the tales for his grandchildren, he decided to create a Facebook group, Tales Tom Told, where he posts his retellings.

Standard is a fan of the classics: “The Arabian Nights” and “Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit.” He grew up in a storytelling family in Kentucky, where he sat on his front porch, listening to his grandfather’s tall tales.

Bethany Meehan-Poulin is a fifth grade resource room teacher at Dirigo Elementary School. She said students love hearing Standard tell tales.

“These are old-fashion, real stories that kids just eat up,” said Meehan-Poulin, adding that even the most trepidatious student can become immersed with classic stories involving knights, dragons and swordplay.

Standard said when he was young, the stories he told were commonplace, and known by many kids. Nowadays, he said he’s noticed that many students have never heard of the tales he grew up listening to. So keeping the tales alive is important.

Poulin said she was happy to see the tales recorded for her students to watch.

“I was so thankful he was getting them out on video … I’m glad they will be preserved. Tom has a real talent,” said Meehan-Poulin. She said a few of her students have had very positive reviews of the videos they watched.

“They were so excited,” Meehan-Poulin said.

Most of the videos Standard posts are of himself sitting in a cozy spot, dressed up in a sweater and a tie. He said since he retired, he hasn’t had much reason to dress formally. But storytelling changes that.

“I always wore a suit and a tie to work, but being retired, I don’t often dress up, except for church. Going to school once or twice a week, or now, recording stories most days, I have a reason to shave and put on a tie,” Standard wrote in an email.

For parents, teachers and students interested in listening to Tales Tom Told, the group can be found on Facebook. It is set as a private group, but can easily be joined.


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