Getting to Know Barbara McBride-Smith

Getting to Know Barbara McBride-Smith


Barbara McBride Smith1 (1)Don’t let the sweet picture fool you, Barbara McBride-Smith is a firecracker of a woman with stories just bursting out of her. From Greek myths, to Bible stories (told with delightful twists), and personal stories that are both knee-slapping and heartwarming, Barbara is sure to entertain you with a wonderful blend of wit and wisdom. We recently reached out to Barbara to get a little insight into her storytelling past and future as we eagerly anticipate welcoming her to this year’s Timpanogos Storytelling Festival.


  1. What is the first story you remember hearing and/or the first story you remember telling?


First story I heard: I was about 3 or 4 years old … I remember hearing my Mother tell the story of how my Dad went to Panama to do construction work on the Panamanian Road. I had no idea where that was, of course, but it seemed exotic, especially when she described how bananas grew on trees there. The most exciting part of the story was how he landed in Panama City on Dec. 7, 1941, which my mother said was a very important date. “And that’s when we went to war,” she said. It was a cliffhanger of a story. All of this was background to the story of my birth, which occurred the year my Dad came home from Panama.


First story I told: I told many stories to students during my years as a school librarian, mostly folktales and myths. But the first story I ever told as a performance piece was

“Orpheus & Eurydice,” which I debuted at a fundraiser event for a community theatre in Oklahoma. I had been part of the cast and/or crew for numerous productions there, and one of my directors thought I’d be good at performing a one-woman show. Together, we wrote 3 stories for that evening; then we went on to collaborate on a repertoire of Greek myths told western style — my first body of work as a freelance storyteller.


  1. How was the seed of storytelling planted in your life?


I grew up in a family that talked in stories. I learned family history, American history, and world history through stories. I was taught and disciplined with stories. As a child, I played with my mother’s button box. My mother had a story to tell me about every single button she had saved in that old metal cake tin.


  1. Where does storytelling grow from here? How do you want see storytelling influencing society?


I don’t have any wise theories about the future of storytelling. But I do believe that human beings are born hard-wired for stories. We are, as a species, addicted to stories. Some neuroscientists conclude that the human mind was shaped FOR story so that it could be shaped BY story. Storytelling helps us discover the universals that bind us to everything around us. That belief, in itself, gives me hope for the future.


  1. If you needed to start a dance party, what song would you lead with?


Ha! Me, start a dance party? Never gonna happen.


For more on Barbara’s schedule at this year’s Festival, visit:


Our Story in Pictures

It was such a wonderful year for the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and so it is no wonder that we are having a hard time officially saying goodbye. But, alas, all things must come to an end—and besides we have some fun things coming up in the next couple of months. As we make our final goodbye, we offer this look back in pictures at the 24th annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival:

All photos were taken by two of our fantastic volunteers: Laren Helms and Tom Thurston.

Meet the Teller: Barbara McBride-Smith

Meet the Teller: Barbara McBride-Smith


Barbara McBride-SmithIt is my distinct privilege to introduce one of the storytellers coming to this year’s Timpanogos Storytelling Festival.  It is probably politically incorrect for a member of the Festival’s organizing committee to admit to having favorite tellers, but there you have it, I do.  Barbara McBride-Smith is definitely one of my favorites.  Since this is her fifth time telling at our Festival, she is also a favorite for many other Festival attendees.  If she is one of your favorites, you probably don’t need an introduction, but maybe a refresher would be fun.


Barbara was born and raised in Texas.  She learned the craft of storytelling from her family: from her parents who were the “natural born keepers of their family lore” and from her two deaf sisters who “communicated with their entire beings.”  She went to school in Boston and then moved to Oklahoma.


I admire Barbara’s energy!  She has managed multiple careers all at the same time.  She was an elementary teacher/school librarian for 44 years.  Just before retiring, she was honored as the “Elementary Teacher of the Year” by the Tulsa Public Schools.  She has influenced more than 25,000 children as she turned them to reading and story.  She has been a Seminary Professor for more than 20 years and is the author of several books.


She is also a master storyteller.  I can say that because in 2000 she was invited to enter the National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence, which is given to artists who are recognized by their peers to be master storytellers who set the standards for excellence and have demonstrated over a significant period of time a commitment and dedication to the art of storytelling. She is a frequent featured teller at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, and when she’s not a featured teller, she is their best emcee—bar none.  And to top it off, she is a wife and a mother!


With her Texas drawl, she tells Bible stories full of humor that make me laugh.  Her personal stories connect me with my memories. Through all the years of listening, though, I have never heard her tell Greek myths.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that this year will end that drought!


She is a gracious, witty, and spunky lady who is fun to be around.  I hope you will join me in welcoming her back to Orem, Utah, and if you haven’t heard her before, be sure to catch her at this year’s Festival!