While working as a children's librarian with the St. Joseph Public Library for a couple decades, Will Stuck developed several educational and storytelling programs for children and eventually adults and even senior citizens – in St. Joseph and across northwest Missouri.
He became requested so frequently for such programs that less than two years ago he shifted gears a bit and performed those programs full time.
Stuck is scheduled soon to bring one of the shows he developed for children, “BOOM! Stories & Science!” to several Mid-Continent Public Library branches, including some in Eastern Jackson County.
He will be at the North Independence branch on U.S. 24 from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday, and then 2 to 3 p.m, Feb. 23 at the South Independence branch on 35th Street. In addition, Stuck will be at the Colbern Road branch in Lee's Summit on March 21 (2 to 3 p.m.), and at the Blue Springs South branch on April 6 (11 a.m. to noon).
Geared for children ages 5-older, “BOOM!” is billed as “Fiction vs. nonfiction in a battle between stories and science,” and Stuck presents a lively mix of science experiments and storytelling to get them children enthused about science and reading. It's believed to be first time he'll perform this program with Mid-Continent branches.
Stuck said the BOOM! program began several years ago as part of the summer reading program at the St. Joseph Library.
“I kind of wanted to do a program that you don't have to be a math or science person to learn from it,” Stuck said. “When I first performed it, I mainly pitched it as a science show or a STEM show, and it kind of morphed from there. I had a kid ask one time if it was fiction or nonfiction.”
After that, he incorporated his storytelling techniques.
Before taking his various storytelling presentations around town and on the road full time, Stuck worked at the St. Joseph library for 24 years – 20 of which he led the children's division.
His presentations grew “kind of organically,” he said. “I was getting more requests for things outside of St. Joseph.”
Then he suffered a heart attack at age 36, and during his immediate recovery he had one of those “Aha!” moments.
“It's one of those cliché things, I wondered 'Am I doing enough with my life,'” he said. “Whether that was making people laugh or teaching them how to tell stories, I wanted to show the power of storytelling.”
He does shows and presentations for schools and libraries (children and staff), businesses and organizations and even fairs and festivals.
“I tested the waters a little bit, and it was a very difficult decision, but I had lots of support. I'm 19 months into doing this full-time.”
Registration is requested for the BOOM! programs. Online, go to mymcpl.org and search for “BOOM” to bring up the events.