Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How and Why, Butterfly? Part Two

Many, MANY educators are doing great things with Pourquoi stories in the classroom. This story form is easy to emulate and lots of fun. In fact, one of my childhood teachers (I wonder who?) used the theme for a creative writing unit. Somewhere in my vast collection of paper ephemera I probably have the story that I wrote. I remember that it is kind of Egyptian and involves both adultery (I read a lot of Greek myths when I was a kid - the philandering of Zeus and Aphrodite must have infiltrated my subconscious) and the origin of cats (big surprise!)

Anyway, I'm not trying to be comprehensive here. These are just a few of the creative people who have helped and inspired me with this workshop. I have provided links to the authors & artists when I think they are particularly interesting:

Nine-In-One Grr! Grr!: A Folktale from the Hmong People of Laos,
told by Blia Xiong and adapted by Cathy Spagnoli (Children’s Book Press, 1989)
I love the slightly befuddled tiger in this story and I love the sing-song refrain that she sings—you can really make it lilt and have the children sing along with you. I made a flannelboard for Nine-In-One and purposely made it primitive and cartoonish. The tiger resembles the cats I used to draw as a child—a big circle for the body, a little circle for the head and two triangles for ears. When I show this to kids, they instantly gain a lot of self confidence and lose any inhibitions they have about their drawing abilities!

How & Why Stories: World Tales Kids Can Read & Tell,
by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss, (August House, 1999)
This book is one of several by Hamilton and Weiss, aka Beauty and the Beast Storytellers, which are written to help young people become storytellers. In fact, the audio version of this book showcases eight guest kid tellers ranging in age from nine to fourteen years. The book also happens to be a great resource for adult tellers. The stories are from cultures all over the world. Each story is no more than one or two pages in length and includes a short note "About the Story" and some "Tips for Telling".

Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children, by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac (Fulcrum, 1989)
Native American cultures are a rich source of how & why stories. The authors provide thought-provoking activities as well as scientific information related to each story. Other books in this series include: Keepers of the Animals, Keepers of the Night, Keepers of Life.

Folktale Themes and Activities for Children, Volume 1: Pourquoi Tales,
by Anne Marie Kraus (Libraries Unlimited, 1998)
This book is part of the Teacher Idea Press “Learning Through Folklore Series” and the author has packed this book with fun and useful activities. Her annotated bibliography is cross-indexed by culture and by topic and gives enough myriad details to help you find just the right story for any program. She also addresses the fact that many how & why stories are still part of a living culture and she provides inspiration that should help workshop leaders convey a sense of respect for the original tellers of these tales. On page 49 she shares various ways that pourquoi stories can be used to involve children in group storytelling. See also pp. 32-34.

Book of Greek Myths, by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire (Doubleday, 1962)
This is a favorite childhood book for myself and for many other people (yes-it’s the tall orange and yellow book with the horses on the cover.) You may be tempted to discount Greek myths for a how & why program because they are too “overdone” or “not primitive enough.” I however, find Greek mythology to be a very satisfying source of pourquoi stories. If I have extra time left over at the end of a program, I like to tell the story of hundred-eyed Argus, Hera’s faithful servant who died while serving her. To memorialize him, Hera, queen of the gods, caused the eyes of Argus to appear on the tail of the peacock.

Landscape, sound recording by Coyote Oldman (Xenotrope Music-BMI, 1988)
Coyote Oldman is Michael Graham Allen and Barry Stramp. These musicians create atmospheric melodies with primitive flutes, bells and pan pipes. Use this recording, or one like it, as background music for the Time Travel exercise. The first track, “People of the Glacier” is almost fourteen minutes long and provides ample time for a group leader to narrate a journey back through the ages.

Changes: Native American Flute Music, sound recording by R. Carlos Nakai (Canyon Records, 1983)
R. Carlos Nakai is of Navajo-Ute heritage and has become well known for his personal musical interpretations using traditional musical forms of the Native peoples of North America. Nakai’s recordings are relatively easy to find. The selections here are quiet and haunting and many of them were composed outside in the open air. For me, these pieces truly evoke an earlier time; the flute is the only instrument used and it echoes as if it is being played in a desert canyon.

“Teaching With Pourquoi Tales,” by Kama Einhorn & Dana Truby, Scholastic Instructor, April 2001, pp. 51-54

Multicultural Folktales: Stories to Tell Young Children,
by Judy Sierra (Oryx, 1991)
I'm not sure, but I think this contains a useful concise section on telling stories with flannelboards. Anyway, it's a good book.

The Flannel Board Storytelling Book, by Judy Sierra (H. W. Wilson; 2nd Revised edition, 1997)
Judy Sierra expands on her earlier work describing construction and use of flannelboards for storytelling.

Soapbox moment: Don't forget to check at your local library for some of these books. Even if your library doesn't own them, they should still be able to borrow them for you through the magic of interlibrary loan. Interlibrary loan (in which your library finds a book at another library, the other library sends it to your library, you borrow the book and read it, you return the book to your library and your library sends it back where it came from) is a library service that has been around for at least 100 years and is still going strong. So USE it! Your tax dollars at work, folks! (I know that I'm preaching to the choir with a lot of you. Why else would you even be here?)

1 comment:

Connie said...

Great post, Lynne - thanks!

Sorry this is so 'last minute' - but if you and Jeff are free Saturday night, we're having a house concert with Jennie Munro, a teacher and storyteller (with a wicked British accent) from Madison. She is previewing and 'trying out' some adult-type stories she will be doing as one of the "New Voices" in Jonesboro the following week. We've offered her a venue with our neighbors and a few people from the storytelling center. Let me know if you can make it and I'll save a couple of seats for you - you know our house is tiny, so we have limited seats ;-}

Time - 7 PM
Saturday, Sept. 26