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Joan Bodger became a professional storyteller in 1948, when she took a course in storytelling at Columbia University. She has told stories and given workshops throughout North America, Britain, Australia, and Japan, and was a co-founder of the Toronto Storytellers School. For many years she led an annual tour, "A Winter's Journey to King Arthur's Britain." Joan Bodger was also a Gestalt therapist who used folk-tale archetypes as tools of her trade. In 1982, the Chaplain's Corps hired her to use stories as therapy with U.S. Marines. (She had been a U.S. Army staff-sergeant during World War II.) In 1986 she conducted workshops for psychiatrists and businessmen in Tokyo.
Joan was director of the first Head Start Program in New York State. Her later work, as director of a therapeutic nursery school in an orphanage for New York City children, was described in a book by Harvard psychiatrist Robert Coles. In 1968, hired as Director of Children's Services, State Library of Missouri, she was fired within a few months as a "Communist pornographer" in a cause cï¿½lï¿½bre. Her name was cleared by the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom. In the 1980s, she directed a project, funded by the Children's Aid Foundation of Ontario, in which she taught abusive mothers to use nursery rhymes as an alternative to violence.
From 1958 to 1970, Joan reviewed children's books for the New York Times Book Review. She has taught as an editor at Random House-Pantheon-Knopf. Twice she has been nominated for a Canadian National Magazine Award.
How the Heather Looks, released in a new edition by McClelland & Stewart and Tundra Books, was first published by Viking Press (New York, 1965). Joan Bodger's autobiography, The Crack in the Teacup was released in 2000. Joan Bodger also wrote for children: Melinda's Ball (Oxford Canada, 1982); Clever-Lazy (reissued by Tundra in 1997); and The Forest Family (Tundra, 1999).
Joan Bodger passed away in 2002.