John Row, legendary storyteller and poet and a veteran of the British festival scene has been exciting children and adults alike for over four decades.
He has performed and run workshops on four continents in schools, festivals, prisons, libraries, museums, community events, shopping centres and tourist attractions.
Currently based in Swindon and Romania travelling is part of his D.N.A. and he is happy to work anywhere in this or any other country.
John’s School Visits
John has appeared in hundreds of schools across the U.K., Germany, Austria, the U.S.A., Romania, Malaysia, Switzerland, France, Sharjah and Brunei since 1976.
He works with all age groups, from pre-school to adult.
As a qualified teacher, he understands how schools operate and employs a flexible approach adapting to the needs of the school.
He has a presentation specifically designed for key stage one and material suitable for key stages two and three.
With younger children he links his stories to the birds and animals they might find in the countries the stories originate from.
With older pupils he places stories in a historical context.
All performances and workshops are interactive and he encourages pupils to participate.
John’s performances and workshops touch on many aspects of the national curriculum especially speaking and listening.
He can place the emphasis of each session on either stories or poems depending on the needs of the school.
He uses anecdotes to bring the art of writing alive and builds stories with students in a way that allows children of all abilities to participate.
John’s experience of storytelling in the teaching of English as an additional language is invaluable in classrooms where children may be experiencing language difficulties.
John carries full public liability insurance and a current enhanced DBS certificate.
Storytelling for All Ages
John’s ever growing repertoire includes stories from across the globe. Currently he is collecting local legends and folk tales from the area of Transylvania where he has a house.
He tailors his set according to the setting and who he has in front of him.
He passionately believes the universal themes at the heart of traditional stories help bind us together as human beings while simultaneously strengthening our own sense of personal identity.
He also believes it is important for everyone to have the means and the opportunity to tell their own story. Whether they choose to tell it as fact or fiction is for them to choose.
English as an additional language
As well as presenting an annual workshop to Austrian trainee teachers at the University of East Anglia John has visited English language classes across Europe, the Far East and North Africa in Kindergartens, Primary and High Schools as well as after school gatherings in Mexico.
His call and response approach encourages children to participate even if they are at the very early stages of learning English.
John is an ever present figure at some of the U.K.’s most prestigious festivals including Glastonbury where he has managed the Storytelling Lounge on the Kidz Field for over twenty years and Cambridge Folk Festival where he started a storytelling area over ten years ago that is now an established part of the festival.
As well as music and arts festivals he has been featured regularly at The Austin International Poetry Festival and has performed at the Algiers Book Fair, the Shajah Children’s Reading Festival, George West Storyfest and The East Anglian Storytelling Festival.
John was the first storyteller in residence at a British prison in 1999. His residency at H.M.P. Wayland helped establish the Storybook Dads Scheme where it got national and international publicity resulting in H.M.P Dartmoor creating the highly successful national scheme and similar projects being established across the U.S.A. and Canada.
Since then John has held three more long term residencies as well as visiting over thirty other prisons and Young Offender Institutions.
He now confines himself to running short term projects across the prison estate.
**John signs all copies of his book purchased by students on the day of his visit.**
Out of The Hat: Stories From Many Lands Retold by John Row
You are sitting by a fire with all of your friends listening to the storyteller in a time before texting, internet, television, radio, or even books.
The storyteller carries you to magical islands and enchanted forests where you meet brave princesses, valiant brothers, loveable tricksters and wicked kings.
Join enchanting storyteller and poet John Row as he retells these fantastic tales from countries around the world.
Then release their power:
Read them out loud.
Tell them to a someone else
and send them on their way-
round and round the world forever…
To purchase John’s book, click here.
Recommendations & Reviews
‘Just a quick note as you must be pretty tired! Thank you so much for the sessions you did for the children today. They enjoyed it so much and the class teachers were amazed, you held them spellbound throughout!’ Melanie Richards, Rabbsfarm Primary School
‘We had an amazing time with John, he was brilliant. The children learnt so much and had a great time, I think this was the best one yet actually, thank you.’ Jason Stainer
‘After running a literacy workshop at Vicarage Primary 6 months previously John ran an Able Writers’ Day as he was leaving, four lads from Vicarage Primary School who had been in John’s reluctant writers session last term came up as he was leaving and told him they were in the top literacy group now. – feedback like this makes it all worthwhile!’
‘Our school is for young people from the age of 2-19 with severe learning difficulties and John worked with all ages and abilities. His adaptability and skills in engaging all the youngsters were greatly appreciated and his visit was hugely enjoyed. John was not phased by anything and I would recommend his services to any other special schools who get the opportunity to invite John in. Many Thanks’ Daniel Martin, Deputy Head
George Hastwell School
‘Absolute professional – John packed our day with poetry performance and poetry writing workshops. John worked with our Year 7 and delighted every child in the audience. Pupils were engaged right from the start and a real buzz was in the air. I certainly think our Year 7 will remember today for a long time. Poetry was made fun today!’ V B Dewhurst, Head of Library QEGS
‘I just want to say thank you for recommending John. He was excellent and the children really enjoyed his stories. He was very willing to fit in with our timetable and was very adaptable. Also, it was lovely that he was able to include our smallest children in his day (age 3). I hope they entertained him as much as he did them! I look forward to contacting you for our Book Week again next year.’ Beverly
‘I have just said goodbye to John Row. The children and staff have had a wonderful day with him, yes you were right he is a character but so interesting. Thank you also for the efficient service you provided, I shall certainly be using your agency and passing on your name to other interested heads.’ Geraldine Mappley, Head Teacher
‘I just wanted to send you a quick email to say how much the children loved having John in our school yesterday. He was a great success and very popular. I have heard nothing but fantastic things about him and I would recommend him to anyone. I am sadly (but excitedly) moving on to East Bergholt Primary School in September and I have every intention of having John in once I am established. He has made my Share a Story Week a very memorable event and I can’t thank him enough. Please pass my thanks on to John and I look forward to speaking to him again soon.’Andrew
“John Row’s visit was a wonderful climax to our Book Week. Dressed in character he quickly brought the stories to life and engaged the pupils from the first minute. His workshops and presentation to Key stage 2 were of high quality, pupil centred and will certainly help our children be more creative in their writing. Many thanks Authors Abroad and we look forward to working with you again!” – Gilbard Honey-Jones, Headmaster, the British School of Kuala Lumpur
“Just a brief note to say how brilliant John Row was today. A real hero himself performing for all 7 lessons and keeping them all thoroughly involved. Very interesting and enjoyable. He was a very good performer and will be a hard act to follow! Thank you for the hard work that went into the organisation.” Sue Rowlatt, Head of English, St. George’s College, Weybridge, UK
“Outside the children’s tent [at the Cropredy Festival] was a crowd of kids (up to the age of at least 58) sitting rapt before John Row, a storyteller with a big black hat, a long white beard and eyes as blue as in any story. He was bewitching. As he unwound his tales, layers of stress and bluster fell away and left a crowd of children at a parent’s knee. Later, Row told me about the bardic tradition and his work in prisons: he’s the most famous storyteller-in-residence at HMP Wayland after Jeffrey Archer, but, unlike Archer, the Storybook Dads scheme he takes part in is proven to reduce reoffending.” – Katy Guest, The Week In Books: Once upon a time in a field at a festival, The Independent
“We were delighted to have John with us for World Book Day 2018. We were especially pleased to see him as Reading was in the grip of ‘The Beast From The East’ however, John battled his way in to thrill the pupils with his story telling. We challenged him with a completely full schedule and the task of inspiring children from Reception all the way to Year 6. John didn’t disappoint! It was wonderful to pop into classes throughout the day and see children totally engaged and participating in the storytelling themselves.
We would highly recommend John visit your school and inspire others as he did for us.”
Elaine Hughes, Literacy Lead St Mary & All Saints C of E Primary School, Reading’
If you would like us to put you in touch with any of the schools that John has recently visited, please don’t hesitate to ask us for contact details.
To Make a Booking
To make an enquiry about John, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org