Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Three Little Pigs and other folktales

This week I have spent some time re-reading reflecting on some of the wonderful versions of this folktalke.  Some of our fourth grade classes are using The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs retold by Jon Scieszka as a model of writing from a particular point of view.  The students will then study other folk or fairy tales and rewrite them from the point of view of a character in the story.  So I have been doing a brisk business in Three Little Pigs stories with the students as well as teachers borrowing a variety of other folktales. 

Some adults are surprised to discover that the students don't know the fairytale cannon or are only familiar with the "twisted" variants rather than "straight" fairy tales. Other adults would like all the fairy tales to already be available as "point of view" stories and are perturbed to discover that authors have twisted the stories in so many other ways, but that Rapunzel (for example) is not told (yet to my knowledge) as a point of view story.

So, out of this rich soup, what is the library ingredient?  My library message this month for this grade is that folk tales belong to everybody.  The do not have an author, because they come out of the oral tradition.  They belong to the "folk" or the people.  There is not one right way to tell a folk tale.  If I include or leave out certain details, that is just my retelling.  I realize however that many children have never heard someone tell a story!  So during the coming week I plan to "pop in" (at prearranged times) to all of the fourth grade classes and tell them a story.  I began on Friday in one class with the story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff.  A five minute performance that I begin by introducing as "retold by Mrs. Dejean" and end with "this is my version of the story.  When you read in books there will be be different details.  When you tell the story, you can change it as you see fit."

Although I encourage the teachers to do a group retelling of the  story of the Three Little Pigs (After the wolf blows down the first pigs house I suggest that the class vote on whether or not the wolf eats the pig) I think that listening to a storyteller is a different experience. Perhaps this way our students will realize that stories don't just grow in books.

No comments:

Post a Comment