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World Folktales


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Reflections: What I Learned


  • I learned to look at story elements more carefully. When one verbalizes elements such as characters, setting, theme, and plot, one gets a feel for the structure of a story.  Before this assignment, I would read a folktale and think about liking or disliking it.  I often did not engage in much analysis. Now when I read, I analyze the folktale in more depth and think about why it did or did not work.


  • I learned that I am particularly fascinated with Asian tales. They seem more complex than most European or African tales, and the plots seem to hold surprises. I enjoyed all six Asian tales, and it is difficult to select a favorite. If pressed, I would select The Princess and the Beggar because the story is so beautiful and the lush illustrations make one feel like he/she is communing with nature.  


  • I also enjoy Jewish tales because of my heritage. My favorite tale in the collection is Zlateh the Goat because it is heartwarming and inspiring.  High on my favorites list is Strudel, Strudel, Strudel because of its humor and absurdity.


  • My least favorite tales are the Eastern European tales from Russia and Armenia: Vasillissa the Brave and The Contest.  The plot in Vasillissa is too long and tedious, and the book has creepy elements.  In The Contest, I had trouble with the celebration of cleverness regardless of morality.  I also had mixed feelings about What about Me? from the Middle East. While I like the illustrations, Young disappoints me in the text by stating the two morals rather than presenting them in subtle terms or encouraging independent discovery.


  • If I were to repeat this assignment, I would review one additional Middle Eastern tale and omit one Native American tale, probably Sootface: An Ojibwa Cinderella story.  I did not adequately represent the Middle East. In addition, I might omit one Indian tale (The Rumor) and substitute a tale from an unrepresented country or region such as France, Germany, East Africa, Mexico, or Canada.


  • What I am wondering about is how to best build on my love of folktales. I plan to continue learning by checking out folktales from libraries and becoming more familiar with stories from around the world, particularly Jewish, African, and Asian tales. I also plan to share some new "finds" with my students, either by reading tales or telling them.  In additon, when I have finished my MLS, I would like to join a storytelling group.