Thursday, March 15, 2007

Retold African Myths

I showed you the broken spine and cover of my copy of Retold African Myths in my previous post Torn Up Book Meme, but I didn’t tell you the story. I first bought that book at the 1993 NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) conference in Pittsburgh. I was teaching first grade that year. A bunch of us from my school attended and it was a great conference. I enjoyed cruising the vender’s tables, picking up that book and a few others at the table of the publisher Perfection Learning.

Retold African Myths is a collection of African myths going back 2000 years retold by Eleanora E. Tate, who was the president of the National Association of Black Storytellers at the time. It is illustrated by her nephew Don Tate. Who knew back then that I would someday be reading and commenting on his blog and he mine?

I used to read these short tales to my first graders in the few minutes we had between math and going to lunch, or at the end of the day when they were all packed up and just waiting for the school busses to come. The book is divided into sections for “creation”, “death”, “gods and mortals” “tricksters”, “how and why”, and “right and wrong”. The kids would be wide-eyed and hanging on the edge of their seats to hear me read the Yoruba tale “How People Came to Be Different”, “Tortoise Cracks his Shell”, the Hausa tale “Brother Spider Get Stuck”, the Kono people of Sierra Leone’s tale “Why the Bat Sleeps Upside Down” and the Swahili tale “Hare Causes Big Trouble”. Sometimes we were late for lunch because they were begging me to finish just one more. My only disappointment is that the binding isn’t sturdier. It is the paperback version and I really ought to have gotten the hardback library binding. After our heavy reading it started to split. I have taped and glued it back together now, so I can read it to my own small sons. Or maybe I should just buy a new copy and a few of Ms. Tate’s other books!

I loved reading the stories of books you and your family have loved to tatters. Anyone else have one to share?

1 comment:

Heather said...

Oh, my. A fellow reader of children's literature. Where do I start? There are so many and even though my children are now 17 and 15 I still have hung onto my favourites. They are stored in a very over-crowded storage room in the basement and every time I try to search for something I get lost in the piles of books, reliving memories of the thousands of hours spent blissfully reading aloud to my kids.
We loved the Narnia series which has, of course, become very popular because of the movie. I love how that series always brings deeper meaning to me every time I read it. It was fascinating to share it with my kids at various times during their development and to watch what they tuned into. Kids can be very profound.
For a slightly cheeky humour have you read "Beware of Boys" by Tony Blundell. My kids laughed their pants off over this one and the pages are coming loose from over-reading. It's a wolf and boy story but in reverse with the boy getting the best of the poor wolf. The pictures are hilarious and, heh, what's a picture book without the pictures. They tell half the story.
Glad to have found your site.