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Traditional Literature. Ashlynd Kyle Lillian Dominguez. Types of traditional Literature. Folktale Fable Myths Epic and Legendary Heroes Bible. Definition. All forms of narrative, written or oral, which have come to be handed down through the years.

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Traditional Literature

Ashlynd Kyle

Lillian Dominguez

Types of traditional Literature

Folktale Fable Myths Epic and Legendary Heroes Bible


  • All forms of narrative, written or oral, which have come to be handed down through the years.

  • Seen to come from the people of culture rather than a specific person

    • Exceptions: Aesop, Homer, and other ancient tellers or writers of tales


  • Traditional Literature forms the foundation of understandings of life as expressed in modern literature

  • Monogenesis

    • Grimm Brothers theory

  • Polygenesis


  • Teachers find it a valuable way to introducing world cultures and geographical regions

  • Appeals to the children’s sense of justice and their moral judgment

  • Kindle their imagination

  • Helps them cope with their dreams and inner turmoil

  • Our speech and language reflect many contributions

  • Groundwork


  • Defined as “all forms of narrative, written or oral, which have come to be handed down through the years.”

    • Epics, Ballads, Legends, and Folk Songs as well as Myths and Fables

Types of Folktales

  • Cumulative Tales

    • There is an increasing repetition of the details building up to a quick climax

    • Children loves these tales

  • Pourquoi Tales

    • Stories that explain

  • Beast Tales

    • Animals act and talk like human beings

    • Talking animals appear in folktales in all cultures

  • Wonder Tales or “Fairy Tales”

    • Magic and the supernatural

    • Creatures

    • Involves Romance and Adventure

    • Long Quest Tales

    • Ends with …

    • Part of the appeal

    • Represents Glorious Fulfillment of human desires

  • Realistic Tales

    • Few

    • Some Basis in Fact

Characteristics of Folktales

  • Plot Structures

  • Characterization

  • Style

  • Themes

  • Motifs

Characteristics of Folk Literature Cont.

  • Examples of Motifs

    • Magical Powers

    • Transformations

    • Magical Object

    • Wishes

    • Trickery

    • Power of Naming

    • Enchanted Sleep

  • Variants

Evaluating Folktales

  • Is there some mention or citation of the original source for this tale?

  • Is the plot simple and direct?

  • Is the language lively and engaging and in keeping with the oral tradition?

  • Does a theme emerge?

  • What is the story’s message or moral?

  • Do illustrations add to and extend the story?

  • Are illustrations and details true to the culture represented?

  • Does the story represent cultural norms, or is written to conform to Western mores?

  • Pg. 233

Folktales of the World

  • Every Culture has produced folklore

  • Provide Insight

  • Help Children discover the universal qualities of humankind

  • Pay Attention to the Following Slides will come in handy

British Folktales

  • First Folktales there most children hear in the United States

  • Joseph Jacobs

  • Examples

    • “The Old Woman and Her Pig”

    • “The Three Bears”

    • “The Three Little Pigs”

  • Some Of the British Folktales has a realism element

  • Wonderfully Exotic Characters

  • Region has developed fewer complicated wonder tales that abound in French and Russian folklore

German Folktales

  • Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

    • Household Stories

    • Grimm Fairy Tales

  • Enlivened by elves, dwarfs, and devils rather than fairies of other cultures

  • Villain in the few beast stories is a wolf

  • Some can be grim, dark, and forbidding

    • “Hansel and Gretel”

  • Plots are exciting, fast-moving, and a little frightening

  • Evil beings hold the good beings until the magical enchantments is broken by love and kindness

Scandinavian Folktales

  • Most are from one single Norwegian collection titled East o’the Sun and West o’the Moon

    • “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”

  • Reflect the harsh elements of the northern climate

  • Animal helpmatesassist heroes in overcoming giants or wicked trolls

  • Heroes

  • Evil Spell

  • Characterized by many trolls, magical objects, and enchantments

  • Often humorous, exciting, fast-moving

French Folktales

  • Earliest to be recorded and most sophisticated and adult

  • Charles Perrault

    • Little book with no name

      • Was it written by Perrault or son Pierre

      • Has an elegant style of the “literary tale”

  • “Sleeping Beauty”

  • Best Known French wonder tale

    • “Beauty and the Beast”

  • Usually tales of the rich not poor

  • Most have all the trappings of traditional fairy tale

Russian Folktales

  • Feature universal patterns of tasks and trials, tricks, and transformations

  • Often longer and complicated than other countries

  • Same characters appear in different guises and one story will often braid into another

  • “The Tale of the Firebird”

Jewish Folktales

  • Has poignancy, wit, and ironic humor unmatched in any other folklore

  • Many been persevered by the writing of Isaac Bashevis Singer

  • “Zlateh the Goat” based on his own childhood memories and tradition

Folktales from the Middle East

  • Birthplace of many of our Western stories, but these tales are not as well know in the United States.

  • Arabian Nights

  • “Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp”

  • Hodja Stories

  • Indicative of a rich source on which children’s literature has yet to draw fullyfrom.

Folktales from Asia

  • Examples:

    • “Yen-Shen” – China

    • “Momotaroor the Story of a Peach” - Japan

    • “The Brave Little Parrot” – India

  • Familiar Theme: Caring for others above oneself

  • Japanese Folktales contain:

    • Miniature people

    • Oni (monster)

    • Theme of gentleness toward animals and other people

    • Value of hard work

    • Respect for elderly

  • Familiar Character: Rabbit

  • Jataka (birth) stories found in India

  • Later Beast Tales were drawn to form the Panchatantra

Folktales from Africa

  • Storytelling is a highly developed art

  • Aural cadence not found in other stories of the world

  • Come oral tradition and frequently written in the storyteller’s voice

  • Style

    • Short sentences

    • Frequent use of parallel constructions

    • Repetition

    • Dialogue

  • Example of Africa Literature

    • “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears”

Africa Continued

  • Many may be described as

    • Being about personified animals

    • Pourquoi stories

  • Play on words is a favored form of humor

  • Will present a dilemma and then the storyteller will invite the audience will try to guess the conclusion

  • Oral tradition has ben maintained

  • Children will learn something new

Folktales of Canada and the United States

  • Examples of Folktales:

    • “Johnny Appleseed”

  • Folktales that came over with the immigrants that took on an unmistakable flavor

  • Indigenous to the place are Native American Folktales

  • Also tall tales that developed from the pioneer spirit

  • America Folktales Continued

    • It can be sorted into four categories:

      • 1. Native American, Eskimo, and Inuit tales that were originally there.

      • 2. Tales that came from other countries, primarily from West Africa, and were changed in the process to form the basis of African American folktales

      • 3. Tales that came primarily from Europe and were modified into new variants

      • 4. Tall tales, legends, and other Americana that developed here

    • Authors continue to Americanize European folktales

    • African American Folktales:

      • Slaves who came over here who added layers to beast tales to add a new meaning about the relationship between the slaves and their masters (Uncle Remus)

    • Tall Tales

      • Contain a glorious mixture of the humor, bravado, and pioneer spirit needed to tame the wilderness

      • Exaggerated Tales

      • Heroes: Johnny Appleseed and John Henry

    Native American Folktales

    • Example:

      • “They Dance in the Sky”

    • Many Native Americans tales can be categorized as myths as they include creation myths and sacred legends

    • When originally told there were loosely planned not highly structured as European fairy tales

    • Storytelling is ceremonial importance in various tribal groups

    • Nature myths or pourquoi stories

    • Contain a trickster

    • Heroes can be found in many stories

    • Survival themes are constant

    Folktales from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America

    • Example of Mexico Folktale

      • “The Legend of the Poinsettia”

    • Example of Caribbean Folktale

      • “Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella”

    • Have roots in many cultures that has inhabited this vast region

    • African Caribbean tradition has contributed many stories to the Mainland African Americans

    • There is a couple Mexican folktales has a connection to Catholicism

    • Pourquoi stories are common in Central and South America

    • Water is a common motif in

      South American folktales.

    Activity America

    • It’s a matching game

    • You as a table will match a popular folktale to its origin

    • The tales were discussed in the previous slides for origin

    • Example:

    Fables America

    • Usually associated with Aesop

    • The first written fables appeared in Greek Literature two centuries before Aesop’s birth and in India and Egypt before Greece

    • Other sources were the Jataka tales

    • Panchatantra

    • These two have moralistic verses intersperse throughout

    • Jean De La Fontaine who is a third source

    Characteristics of Fables America

    • Brief, didactic tales in which animals, or occasionally the elements, speak as human beings

      • Example is the well-known race between the hare and the tortoise

    • Humans do appear in a few fables like “The Boy who cried Wolf”

    • Impersonal characters with no lively personalities

    • Animals represent aspects of human nature

    • Seldom have more than three characters

    • Plot based on a single incident

    • Meant to instruct

    • Either contain an implicit or an explicit moral

    • Appear to be simple but they are complex as they convey an abstract idea in relatively few words

    Editions America

    • Younger children might appreciate some fables but can not be able to extract a moral until about 2nd or 3rd grade

    • Older children would like it as they can compare treatments of several of these fables.

    Myths America

    • Evolved as primitive peoples searched their imaginations and related events to force as they sought for explanations of the earth, sky, and human behavior

    • Moved through the concept of one power to a complex system of which gods and goddess represent virtues as love to worshipping of gods

    • Deals with human relationships with the gods, relationships among the gods, way people accept or fulfill their destiny, people’s struggles with good and evil forces inside themselves and outside themselves

    Myths Continued America

    • Contain action, suspense, and basic conflicts

    • Each story is usually short

    • Can be enjoyed by itself without deep knowledge of general mythology

    Types of Myths America

    • Creation (origin)

      • Every culture that has a story about how the world began, how the sun and moon got into the sky.

      • Explanation for the beginnings of things

      • Example “When God Made the Dakotas”

    • Nature

      • Stories that explain seasonal changes, animal characteristics, earth formations, constellations, and the movements of the sun and earth

      • Example Greek story of Demeter and Persephone

    • Hero

      • Found in many cultures

      • Do not attempt to explain anything at all

      • Hero is given a task to complete may or may not receive help from the gods depend on whether or not they like the hero with monsters as a challenge

      • He or she accepts all dangerous assignments and accomplishes the quest or die in one glorious adventure

    Greek Mythology America

    • To distinguish between Greek and Roman names of the Gods look at page 266

    • Gathered by poet Hesiod sometime during the 8th century B.C.

    • Roman version came out in Metamorphoses in 1st century B.C

    • Composed of many stories of gods and goddesses, heroes, and monsters

    • Greeks were first to see gods in their own image

    • As their culture became sophisticated and complex their stories did as well

    • Gods can do as much as regular human but on an higher scale

    • Includes the creation story with the sun and moon as first gods the page 267 goes on to describe some more about the history like how Zeus became the head god

    Norse Mythology America

    • Took their mythology from their land and its people of origins

    • Land was cold and there was a struggle against the elements

    • Therefore it seems logical that Norse mythology is fill with gods who had to fight huge frost giants

    • The gods would fight because they knew that they and their home on Asgard would be destroyed and forgotten

    • It did come true as Christianity all but extinguished talk about the old gods expect in Iceland

    What is an Epic? America

    • An epic is a long narrative or a cycle of stories clustering around the actions of a single hero.

    • The epic hero is a cultural or national hero embodying all the ideal characteristics of greatness in his time.

    • The epics express the highest moral values of a society.

    Value Of Genre To Children America

    • A knowledge of the epics gives children an understanding of a particular culture; but more importantly, it provides them with models of greatness through the ages.

    Epics America

    • Epic of Gilgamesh

    • The Iliad

    • The Odyssey

    • The Ramayana

    Heroes of the Middle Ages America

    • Beowulf

    • King Arthur

    • Robin Hood

    Definition of the Bible as Literature America

    • The Bible is a religious text, but it is also a work of literature.

    • The Bible includes many literary qualities such as it’s narrative genres, its stylistic forms, and its poetry and prose.

    • You can read the Bible as if it were a novel.

    • The Bible includes many different books and stories.

    Value of Genre to Children America

    • All children deserve to know the spiritual and religious beliefs that have shaped the world in which they live.

    • Whatever our religious persuasion or nonpersuasion, children should not be denied their right to knowledge of the traditional literature of the Bible.

    • Children cannot fully understand other literature unless they are familiar with the outstanding characters, incidents, poems, proverbs, and parables of this literature of the Western world of thought.

    The Bible as Literature America

    • The Bible is a written record of people’s continuing search to understand themselves and their relationships with others and their creator.

    • Makes little sense to tell children the story of Jack the Giant Killer but to deny them the stories about David and Goliath.

    • Wanderings of Odysseus, but not those of Moses.

    Collections of Bible Stories America

    • When a school staff agrees that children should have an opportunity to hear or read some of the great stories from the Bible, it faces the task of selecting material.

    • These stories can be humorous and include different variations of Bible stories.

    Single Bible Stories America

    • There have been picture books made based on individual stories from the Bible, which is especially useful to introduce children to this literature.

    • Ex. Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon have illustrated a full-length picture book around the well-known Bible versus from Ecclesiastes in To Everything There Is a Season.

    • Ecclesiastes 3:1-8  America

    • 1. There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    •    2.  a time to be born and a time to die,    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

    •    3.  a time to kill and a time to heal,    a time to tear down and a time to build,

    •    4.  a time to weep and a time to laugh,    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

    •    5.  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

    • 6. a time to search and a time to give up,    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

    •  7.  a time to tear and a time to mend,    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

    • 8.  a time to love and a time to hate,    a time for war and a time for peace.