Kim Sheahan - Storyteller

Kim Sheahan has been a central Illinois educator since 1991, incorporating oral traditions into her multicultural programs at the University of Illinois' Spurlock Museum. She added freelance storytelling about ten years later and has performed folktales and one-woman shows at storytelling festivals, school assemblies, city-wide celebrations, personal parties, and gatherings of all kinds ever since. Her enthusiasm is both unmistakable and contagious. Let her share the joy and power of the tale with you at your next special event.

Upcoming Dates

Illinois State Fair 2015 • Springfield Illinois

Kids Korner
  • August 21 at 12:00, 2:00, 4:00, and 5:30
  • August 22 at 12:00, 2:00. and 4:00
  • August 23 at 12:00, 2:00, and 4:00

U of I Extension 4-H Adventure
August 14-17 (location to be announced)

A Few Fond Memories

  • Saturday, April 26, 2014 • Northlands Storytelling Conference

I was honored tonight to become the president of the Northlands Storytelling Network, a wonderful, supportive, and friendly group of storytellers from the upper Midwest (and beyond). I hope to represent them well; they deserve it.

  • January 11, 2014 • Spurlock Museum

I held two storytelling events at the Museum over the winter: an afternoon of giving tales in December and one of fun tales in January.  We had people in for the events that had never been to the Museum before, and we all had a wonderful time!  I've already decided to do this again next winter.

  • Thursday, June 20, 2013• Tuscola Boy Scouts

Word is spreading about how much I love to tell at Boy Scout summer camps, and this year I got to tell stories for the Tuscola camp.  The theme was "Knights in Shining Armor," so I told a knight and dragon story, a haunted castle story, and a story about a duck who becomes king.  The boys were terrific!  It's always great to hear an audience yell, "Tell another one!"

  • Wednesday, June 13, 2012 • Scout Camp   

For about four years, I've been invited to tell stories for local Boy Scouts during their summer camp at the Champaign County Fairgrounds. Each year there is a different theme, and it's always fun finding stories to fit them. This year, the boys were learning about different countries, and I got to tell on "Africa Day." Go Anansi the Spider!

  • The Transforming Arts of Papua New Guinea

In the fall, 2009, the Spurlock Museum (where I am Assistant Director of Education), displayed a wonderful temporary exhibit entitled "The Transforming Arts of Papua New Guinea." The exhibit was a discussion of how contemporary artists are using traditional objects and motifs to discuss modern issues of unity and tolerance. I was very happy to have included in the exhibit a computer kiosk where visitors could learn more about PNG and the artists highlighted.  Also on the kiosk were my performances of three traditional folktales. If you would like to see and hear the folktales, they are now online at The Museum hosts a variety of special events each year, and storytelling is often involved. You can find out about upcoming events at the Museum's website,

  • February 20, 2010Quest for Freedom: 1850s/1950s

In honor of Black History Month, Camille Born and I presented the program Quest for Freedom: 1850's/1950s.  Camille started with A Rocking Chair and a Trunk, a story that chronicles the experiences of a family whose house served as a station on the Underground Railroad. I finished the concert premiering my newest historical program A Place to Live. In the program I portray civil rights activist Anne Braden, who, with her husband Carl, purchased a house in a white Louisville, Kentucky neighborhood for an African-American family in 1954. Their story is so important, and I was thrilled to be able to bring it to a new audience. I would love to do this program for high school students. To read more about Anne, visit

Reaction to A Place to Live:
"I thought your story and delivery were compelling. What a powerful story."
Kathe Brinkmann • Storyteller

  • April 23, 2010 • Northlands Storytelling Conference

It was an honor to share the stage with some wonderful tellers and to perform The Tiger's Whisker, one of my favorite stories. Thank you to everyone for their kind words of support afterward. Special thanks to Karen Wollscheid, the Northlands executive director, for allowing me to share her review:

"Your wonderful voice and delivery style lets the story be the star, not the person telling it. In my opinion that makes the best kind of storyteller. I hope to hear your stories again very soon!"

  • March 12, 2011 • A Place to Live

I was so pleased to be asked to perform my one-woman concert on Anne Braden to the members of the American Association of University Women. What a great audience!  Here is one of the wonderful comments I received...
"We were delighted with your performance at our Wine, Women and Song fundraiser on Saturday. I've heard many compliments from the folks who attended, and they appreciated the way you brought this serious subject to life. It gave an emotional impact   to something we understand intellectually but haven't experienced personally ourselves. I will certainly recommend you as a program presenter to other groups."
Phyllis Cline, AAUW

  • Saturday, June 20 and Sunday, June 21, 2009 • Taste of C-U

The 2009 Taste of C-U had a performance stage dedicated to Abraham Lincoln and his time.  There were performances by Camille Born and myself, the musical group the Prairie Dust Devils, and Lincoln impersonator Glenn Braun.  It was the debut of my first performance as a fictional historical character. As Abigail Westinghouse, I talked about my experiences as a Civil War nurse and related the exploits of Mary Ann "Mother" Bickerdyke, a true-life Civil War nurse from Galesburg, Illinois.  Though I thought I was going to pass out performing in the summer heat in my petticoats and crinoline, I had a wonderful time and hope to put together more performances like these for the future.

Previous Public Performances

  • Northlands Storytelling Conference
  • National Storytelling Conference (Chicago)
  • Illinois Young Authors Conference
  • Illinois State Fair Kid's Korner*
  • Taste of Champaign-Urbana*
  • Big Grove Storytelling Festival*
  • Bluestem Storytelling Festival
  • Chinquapin Folk Music & Storytelling Festival
  • New Salem Storytelling Festival
  • Verde Gallery Spoken Word Series*
  • The Teller's Art Series*
  • Allerton Park Ghost Story Concerts*
  • University of Illinois Chatauqua
  • Parkland College Staerkel Planetarium*

*designates multi-year appearances

What People Say About Kim's Performances
"Again, you blew me away. Your wonderful voice and delivery style lets the story be the star, not the person telling it. In my opinion that makes the best kind of storyteller. I hope to hear your stories again very soon!" Karen Wollscheid Northlands Storytelling Network

"I thought your story and delivery were compelling. What a powerful story."
Reaction to A Place to Live • Kathe Brinkmann

“Kim is a terrific storyteller, and she held the audience captive for the entire presentation.”  Ava Wolf • Scout leader

“The stories were great!  Our students and families loved them!”
Carol Jones • Marquette Early Childhood School

“Excellent!  Wouldn’t change anything!”
Nick Dalrymple • Unity East Elementary School

“Kim was very enthusiastic and vivacious!”
Ray Arseneau • Mahomet-Seymour Jr. High School

Photo credits for this site:
Randy Sanford, Paul Idleman, Camille Born, Marissa Garza, and JUPITER IMAGES.
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