Christopher Walken reads the Three Pigs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vNk4K3YaIc
1. What do we mean by traditional literature?
Folklore, myths, legends, epics, religious stories, family stories, urban legends, nursery rhymes, some forms of poetry, ballads, tall tales, jokes, ...
What do all of these literary types have in common?
First a bit about folklore.
When a writer publishes a version of a folktale we tend to say it is "retold by" rather than written by that author. This is because traditional literature originated orally and has no identifiable author. Much of traditional literature was told and retold with details varying depending on audience and context. Tales were carried by storytellers from place to place, and the details of the narrative were changed to suit the context. Folktales vary from culture to culture but they often to have the same basic literary elements known as motifs. Characters in traditional tales tend to be archetypes rather than well developed characters. They tell stories of the human experience and convey a rich sense of culture. Traditional literature is an important part of the building blocks for contemporary literature -- the mother of all literature.
Many of these stories are now written down in multiple versions, some paying strict attention to particular oral traditions, others creating new alternate versions which are sometimes referred to as fractured fairy tales.
2. Discuss the subgenres of folklore:
- Cumulative Tales
- Beast Tales
- Trickster Tales
- Pourquoi Tales
- Wonder (Fairy) Tales
- Realistic Tales
- Fractured folktales
3. Some of the Many Reasons for Using Folklore
· provides entertainment
· contains the rich heritage of story
· tells stories of the human experience
· kindles the imagination
· serves as the building blocks for contemporary literature/framework for literature
· provides a window on diverse cultures
Looking at Folktale Variants
In groups look at the picturebook variants of a folktale. After comparing, write down what it is about the tale that is essential -- what makes this "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" for example.
a. What are the essential ingredients of your folktale? Look in particular at:
Sequence of events
b. Are there significant differences in terms of
- artistic interpretation;
- cultural context;
c. Brainstorm possible activities which would take advantage of the idea of folktale variants.
Write a contemporary version of the folktale.
Write a letter from a character in the folktale to another folktale character.
Write a version of the story from the villian's perspective.
Write a script for a dramatization or puppet show version of the folktale
Investigate cultural variations in the tale and how this reflects the cultures
Investigate the authenticity of the tales to discover if any are "fakelore"
List of some possible variants
1. Write a letter from Golidlocks to the three bears apologizing for breaking into their house. Include information from Goldilocks’ perspective about what happened and why she did what she did.
2. The police had to investigate a disturbance at the Elder Pig’s House today. Write up a police report detailing what evidence was found. Include eyewitness testimony. Include mug shots of possible suspects. What are the next steps for the police?
3. Beauty from Beauty and the Beast is worried that Cinderella is marrying Prince Charming for all the wrong reasons. She thinks that Cinderella might be too interested in his good looks and his money.
- Half of you write a letter from Beauty to Cinderella trying to get her to marry for love not money/looks.
- Half of you write a letter from Cinderella to Beauty explaining why you are in love with Prince Charming.
4. The Daily Howl is writing an article about the disappearance of B.B. Wolf. There are rumors that the dastardly Little Red had something to do with these and perhaps a mysterious Woodsman was involved. Write the article that will appear on the front page tomorrow. Add a photo of BB and perhaps one of the suspects as well.
5. It is the night before the big wedding. Excitement is in the air, but perhaps some apprehension as well. Are the Prince and the Sleeping Beauty making the right choice... after all they have only just met? Split into two groups.
• Sleeping Beauty has not been able to write in her diary for the past 100 years. Half of you write a diary entry for her. What is she thinking on this night before the big event?
• The Prince does not keep a diary... he writes in his journal. What private thoughts does he write down on this night?
6. Internet Activities
The excellent student created website The Art of Storytelling featuring American Folk Tales gives student versions of famous American Folktales and tips for telling them. The site was constructed by five students at Central School in Glen Rock, NJ. Take a look at one of the stories and the advice they give for oral telling. Imagine you are the teacher of these students. Is there any advice you would give them on improving the site? How would students in your classroom react to the information presented? What do you think these students learned from the activity? You will then share this with the class. Dreaming Stories: Folktales are taken from the oral tradition and to an extent are meant to be heard. Listen to Min-na-wee (use the audio the video comes through poorly). How does the way the story is told influence your understanding of the tale? Does the teller use his/her voice in certain ways to add meaning? Talk about the tale, what is the message for members of this culture? Do you learn anything about the way of life? Read the explanation of the tale. You will then share this with the class.
Go through the process of folktale writing with Alma Flor Ada. What do you think of this type of writing workshop. What age group might this activity work with. How might it be used effectively as a whole class activity? You will then share this with the class. See also:
Myth Writing with Jane Yolen
Fractured Folktale Writing with Jon Scieszka
There are numerous fractured fairy tales that are loved by kids, and there are also many teachers who use this as a writing prompt for students during which they both have to retell those major events from a folktale with which they are familier and creatively fracture it in some way to make a new and imaginative story of their own. Look at (but don't feel confined by) this lesson plan from Eduplace. Choose a folktale with which you are familier and create your own version. You will then share this with the class.
Novelized Folk Tales
Working with young adults the one category of literature related to traditional which is often be used is the novelized folk tale. These are extended versions of folk tales that add detail, flesh out the characters, and often add additional characters and events.
Connected stories Chinese Cinderella, Skeleton Man
Extensions Just Ella, I Was a Rat
New tellings Beauty, and Rose Daughter
From alternate perspectives
· A minor character, an added character, or even the villian’s -- ZelLegend Arthurian Legend
Connected stories The Seeing Stone
Extensions The Lost Years of Merlin
New tellings Sword of the Rightful King
From alternate perspectives · The villian’s I am Morgan le Fay
· added character’s Parsifal’s Page
Connected stories Robin of Sherwood
Extensions Forbidden Forest
New tellings The Outlaws of Sherwood
From alternate perspectives · The villian’s -- In a Dark Wood
· added character’s Lionclaw: A Tale of Rowan Hood
Gilgamesh, The King Ludmila Zema (3 part series)
Beowulf illus.by Charles Kegin
Beowulf: a New Telling by Robert Nye
Beowulf by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Grendel by John Gardner
Rama and the Demon King Jessica Souhami
Wings Jane Yolen illus Dennis Nolan
Sirena Donna Jo Napoli.
The great god PAN Donna Jo Napoli
Snake Dreamer by Priscilla Galloway
The Trojan War Padric Colum illustrated by Barry Moser.
Atalanta’s Race: A Greek Myth Shirley Climo
Ariadne, Awake! Dorris Orgel Illus. Barry Moser
Gods, Goddesses, and Monsters:An Encyclopedia of World Mythology by Sheila Keenan, illus.by Belgin Wedman. Scholastic.
The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (ed.)
Art Tells a Story: Greek and Roman Myths Penelope Proddow.
Regional or cultural collections
Favorite Norse Myths Mary Pope Osborne
Favorite Greek Myths Mary Pope Osborne
The MacMillan Book of Greek Gods and Heroes Alice Low
Egyptian Myths Jacqueline Morley illus.by Giovanni Caselli.
A Time to Love: Stories from the Old Testament by Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers. Focuses on the complexities of love between friends, lovers, brothers, parents and children.
Between Earth and Sky: Legends of Native American Sacred Places. Joseph Bruchac
Journeys with Elijah: Eight Tales of the Prophet by Barbara Diamond Goldin illus.by Jerry Pinkney.
The Dark Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural by Patricia McKissack illus, by Brian Pinkney. Knopf. Stories drawn from the African American oral tradition.
Mysterious Tales of Japan retold by Rafe Martin illus. by Tarsuro Kiuchi. Putnam. Great collection of scary stories from Japan.
Guidelines for Selecting and Evaluating Traditional Literature
Will children enjoy reading this book?
Does a book share traits with other books young people you work with have enjoyed in the past? Does the book have themes that might be of interest to young readers?
Does the book tell a good story?
Is the story well written and engaging?
Does the work contain an authenticity of voice and setting?
Do style, character development, plot, theme, tone, point of view, mood, pace, and design enhance the storyline?
How does the book compare to other books by the author and illustrator?
How has the book been received by reviewers (professional as well as young people)? Do you agree with these reviews?
How does the retelling relate to the original oral versions? Is this relationship explained (in a foreword, author notes…)?
Is cultural and historical information given on the source of the tale?
Are aspects like orality, and cultural storytelling traditions reflected in the retelling? How does the language used relate to the original oral storytelling tradition?
Do the illustrations reflect the cultural and artistic traditions of the culture?
Is this the right book for the context?
Will it appeal to this individual or group?
Will it provide a pleasurable and/or educational experience?
Are the topics or language too difficult/simple/banal so that reading becomes frustrating?
Are stereotypes avoided?