Native American Folktales

This week we are having a guest presenter for our Children’s Summer Reading Program, who will share folktales and information about various Native American cultures. In order to prepare, I read several stories that I hope to be able to share as further reading to encourage kids to keep learning. Not being part of any of these cultures, I can’t review how well they represent the authentic tales and character of the original cultures. But I can say how well they introduce children to stories and cultures not their own.

The Good Rainbow Road / Rawa 'Kashtyaa'tsi Hiyaani The Good Rainbow Road / Rawa ‘Kashtyaa’tsi Hiyaani by Simon J. Ortiz, Victor Montejo, Michael Lacapa. This tale follows two boys part of the way on their quest to bring water back to their people. As far as it goes, it is a lovely story, and is nicely multi-lingual. But it seems incomplete, like being sent to bed before you find out how the book ends. Only the book really does end in the middle of the story. This might have been tolerable if the author had mentioned where the rest of the story could be found or just a few details about what happens next.

Snail Girl Brings Water: A Navajo Story Snail Girl Brings Water: A Navajo Story, Geri Keams. This story explains how when the first people emerged into this realm, they realized they had no clean water, which prevented anything from growing or developing. So they sent different creatures to get the water, but each failed, and their failure explained some of their development. Not until snail girl volunteered to get the water. I actually gave this to a girl who wanted a pourquoi tale. It is a good story because it is both familiar and new to kids.

When Turtle Grew Feathers: A Tale from the Choctaw Nation When Turtle Grew Feathers: A Tale from the Choctaw Nation Tim Tingle. One of the reasons I enjoyed this variant of the turtle and the hare is that it has a lot of attitude. It is a different story, but familiar, and shows kids something of a different culture.

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