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Traditional Literature: American Tall Tale

Schlosser, S. E. The Birth of Paul Bunyan. 2 October 2006. 1 October 2007.


Summary: The Birth of Paul Bunyan is an American Tall Tale that tells about the birth of Paul Bunyan, an enormous baby. The story exaggerates Paul’s large size and needs as a baby. Paul’s parents conclude that the East coast is not big enough for their big baby and decide to move to Minnesota.

  1. Nurturing role of parents

  2. Baby is delivered by stork

Reaction: I have enjoyed this short Tall Tale. There were many wonderful details that emphasized exaggeration and made Paul Bunyan a larger then life character. For example, Paul’s parents had to milk two dozen cows morning and night to keep his milk bottle full and Paul’s father had to drive the wagon up to the top of Maine and back whenever he wanted to rock the Paul to sleep. This story introduces the concept of babies being delivered by storks, and it also shows how dedicated, loving, and giving parents are.
Discussion Questions:

  1. What aspects of the story were exaggerated?

  2. What makes Paul Bunyan a larger then life character?

  3. What are some elements of a Tall Tale?

Traditional Literature: Chinese Fable

Ye, Martin. Power of Skirts. 1 October 2007.


Summary: Power of Skirts illustrates the Chinese custom of the Yizu that during warfare, woman from the related village are allowed to mediate the tribes by standing between the fighting parties in hopes of ending the conflict. If men do not respect her wishes, she commits suicide in the name of honor.

  1. Improvement of human conduct

  2. Customs of the Yizu

  3. Standing up for what you believe in, making sacrifices

Reaction: I enjoyed reading this Chinese fable because it taught me about another cultures customs during warfare. Stories that expand a reader’s knowledge about different cultures allow them to have a better understanding and appreciations for different parts of the world. This fable teaches the reader about Chinese Yizu warfare conduct. It takes a lot of courage for a woman to come between two fighting tribes and sacrifice her life for the sake of both villages.
Discussion Questions:

  1. What Chinese tribe does the reading mention?

  2. What is the women’s role in warfare?

  3. What happens to the men if they approach the border?

Traditional Literature: American Fable

Scia, Sabatino. The Stupid Donkey, The Horse, The Master and The Ant. 2 October 2007. < >.

Summary: The donkey questions why he was born a donkey and not a beautiful horse dressed in rich harnesses, the master questions why he was born to kill himself with work and all he has is a fat woman with no teeth and the ant is happy that it is not a dumb donkey.

  1. Do not compare yourself to others

  2. Everyone is a unique individual

  3. We are what we are because that is what makes us who we are Huh???

Reaction: I enjoyed reading this fable and I think it has a great moral for younger readers. You should never compare yourself to others because you are a unique individual. You should accept yourself for who you are and be the best version of who you can be. As the story states, “Why was the sea born sea and the sun born sun, the wind born wind and the frog born frog, the orange born orange and the earth born earth…” Embrace your individuality.
Discussion Questions:

  1. Tell me about a time when you wanted to be someone else.

  2. Why did the ant call the donkey an imbecile?

  3. What advice would you give someone who is not happy with their life or with who they are?

Traditional Literature: Aesop Fable

The Lion in Love. 2 October 2007.


Summary: A lion falls in love with a beautiful maiden and asks for her hand in marriage. The maiden’s parents are scared to give their daughter away to a wild beast like the lion and ask him to cut his claws and remove his teeth. The lion that is very much in love does as the parents wish, however all he ends up with is a laugh from the parents.

  1. Love makes you do crazy things

  2. Someone should love you for who you are and not expect you to change

Reaction: I really enjoyed reading this short Aesopian fable. The message that the reader derives from this story is that when it comes to love, we sometimes do crazy things to gain another persons affection. For example, the lion who is the “King of Beasts” allowed his claws to be cut and teeth removed just so that he can gain approval from the maiden’s parents. In the end he did not get what he wanted and lost his power. We should stay true to who we are and find someone that will love us for us. This story appeals to readers of all ages.
Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you think someone should change who they are for love? Why or why not?

  2. What does love mean to you?

  3. Do you think the lion did the right thing by sacrificing his power and status for the maiden? Why or why not?

Traditional Literature: Greek Myth

Athenia’s Birth. 11 November 1997. 2 October 2007.


Summary: This Greek myth illustrates the birth of Athena, Zeus’s daughter. Zeus swallows Matis in fear that their second child will overthrow him. Matis is pregnant with Athena and Zeus soon develops excruciating headaches. When Zeus’s skull is opened, out emerges full grown Athena.

  1. Reader gains knowledge about a Greek myth, the birth of Athena

  2. Reader gains appreciation for another culture

Reaction: I have always been intrigued with Greek mythology. It is very rich and has made its mark in the world. This specific myth was very short to read; therefore it is suited for younger audience. It clearly illustrates how Athena was born into the world of Greek mythology and the story also introduces the reader to other characters such as Matis and Zeus.
Discussion Questions:

  1. How was Athena born?

  2. Why did Zeus swallow Matis?

  3. What do you like about Gods and Goddesses which are a large component of Greek mythology?

Traditional Literature: African Myth

African Bushmen Creation Myth. 1 October 2007.

Summary: At one time people and animals lived together underneath the earth in harmony. The Great Mater of Lord of All Life, Kaang, created a world above the earth and sends the animals and people up to live there. Kaang instructs that no fire is to be made. Once darkness came the people got scared and made a fire scarring away the animals. They disobeyed Kaang and were punished. There no longer exists communication between the animals and people.

  1. Familiarizes reader with another cultures creation story

  2. Living in harmony

  3. Obedience

Reaction: I have enjoyed reading this African creation myth and learning about other cultures beliefs about the origin of creation. Because people disobeyed Kaangs instructions and started a fire the animals ran away and hid in caves and mountains. The friendship and communication that once existed between animals and people became replaced by fear and a lack of communication. This myth illustrates not only the origin of creation but how decisions may affect members of a group in different ways. What may be good for some may not be beneficial for others.
Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the Bushmen Creation Myth?

  2. How do you think the world was created?

  3. What was the punishment placed on the people by Kaang?

Traditional Literature: Chinese Myth

Pangu and the Creation of the World. 25 June 2007. 1 October 2007.


Summary: First there was darkness everywhere. Pangu hatches from an egg and the denser part of the egg floats down and becomes earth and the lighter part floats up and becomes sky (Yin and Yang). Pangu grows 10 feet per day, so he stands between the earth and sky pushing them apart and creating distance in between. After death, Pangus body made up the world’s elements.

  1. Yin and Yang

  2. Reader is introduced to another cultures creation story

Reaction: I believe that the younger audience would find this myth informative and entertaining to read. Pangu has the ability to grow 10 feet per day, and during his life time he spreads the earth and sky apart by 30,000 miles. After his death, his body composed other elements of the earth. For examples, his breath formed the clouds and wind and his body hair became grass and herbs. Also the reader is introduced to the concept of Yin and Yang which is a union between the opposites.
Discussion Questions:

  1. What is Yin and Yang?

  2. What happened to Pangus body after he died?

  3. How was Pangu born?

Traditional Literature: American Legend

Schlosser, S.E. Kate Shelley Saves the Train. 2 October 2006. 1 October 2007.

Summary: A terrible storm causes a washout and a collapse of bridge which many trains pass over. Fifteen year old Kate Shelley who lives by the bridge endangers her life in an attempt to get to Moingona Station and warn other trains of the danger ahead. Kate Shelley was able to save many lives because of her bravery.

  1. Putting your life on the line to save others

  2. Bravery/heroism

Reaction: “Kate Shelley Saves the Train” is an American legend that is based on a true story. Kate Shelley is a fifteen year old girl, the oldest of five who lives with her widowed mother by the train station. When she discovers that the bridge collapsed she crawls on her hands and knees over a tiny catwalk of a nearby trestle bridge to get to Moingona Station and warn other oncoming trains. This story displays an individuals bravery and unconditional dedication to save someone else’s life even if it may cost them theirs. Kate’s actions were heroic.
Discussion Questions:

  1. Kate’s actions were heroic and brave. What defines heroism to you?

  2. What elements make this story a legend?

  3. Who is your hero and why?

Traditional Literature: Native American Legend

The First Fire. 3 October 2007.

Summary: In the beginning of the world there was no fire until Lighting came to earth and ignited a small fire on the bottom of a sycamore tree. All the animal people make an attempt to get to the fire and bring it back for everyone to share however each animal gets permanently scared by the flames or smoke. Only the water spider is successful and that is how we have fire to this day.

  1. Native American belief of how fire originated

  2. Team work

  3. Allow the reader to see through the Native American eyes why some animals look the way they look

Reaction: This Native American legend illustrates the origin of fire. I also like how this legend offered the reader a different perspective on why some animals look the way they do. For example, originally the raven was white however all its feathers were scorched black by the flames so now the raven is black. This read is appropriate for an audience of 2nd grade and up. This legend also introduced the concept of team work. All the animals held a council to decide who will attempt to reach the sycamore tree to bring back fire and when one animal would not succeed, another animal would try. The water spider was able to spin a thread from its body and attach bowl to its back to bring back a piece of coal.
Discussion Questions:

  1. How did fire originate according to this Native American legend?

  2. Why is a Raven black?

  3. How did the water spider succeed at delivering fire to the rest of the animals?

Traditional Literature: Spanish-American Legend

Schlosser, S.E. Joaquin Murietta, The Bandit of the Goldfields. 2 October 2006. 1 October 2007. <>.
Summary: Joaquin Muriettas brother and wife are murdered because they are Mexican immigrants working on American soil. To seek revenge on the Americans, Murietta organizes a Mexican gang, killing and stealing gold from Americans and giving it to the poor. The Californian government shoots Murietta and decapitates him. Till this day Muriettas ghosts travels looking for his head.

  1. Revenge

  2. Crime

  3. Justice

  4. Discrimination against immigrants

Reaction: I believe that this Spanish-American legend would be best understood and appreciated by audience of grades 4 and up. This legend’s depicts Americans racists attitude towards Mexican immigrants and what is ironic is that we are still experiencing this conflict in our society today (Not to such extreme however). This legend introduces the reader to the concept of hate crimes and how far an individual will go to seek revenge for the death of a loved one. Joaquin Murietta had his family taken away from him and all that he had left was his will to avenge their deaths.
Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever been discriminated against and how did that make you feel?

  2. What do you think should be done to eliminate discrimination?

  3. How did Joaquin Murietta avenge his loved ones deaths?

Traditional Literature: Native American Trickster Tale

Thompson, Smith. Manabozho and the "Hell-Diver". 25 June 2002. 3 October 2007. <>.
Summary: Manabozho decides to have a feast. He tells the birds and ducks to close their eyes and sing and dance as loudly as they can and if any of them open their eyes they will forever have them red and sore. As the birds and dancing and singing with their eyes closed Manabozho one by one kills them for his feast until one bird opens his eyes and warns the others of Manabozho’s trick.
Concept/ Values:

  1. Follow your instincts

  2. Deceit

Reaction: This Native American trickster tale is suitable for readers of all ages. Manabozo is the obvious trickster that is being deceitful towards the ducks and birds. If the Hell-Diver would not follow its instincts and open its eyes he would also have been killed and eaten by Manabozo. This story illustrates that one should trust their instincts and also shows that there are individuals out there who will try to fool you.
Discussion Questions:

  1. How did Manobozho trick the birds?

  2. Why should you follow your instincts?

  3. Tell me about a time a friend has fooled you.

Traditional Literature: African American Trickster Tale

Schlosser, S.E. Why Dogs Chase Cats. 2 October 2006. 2 October 2007. <>.
Summary: Dog was married to Cat and was tired of Cat not making him dinner because she was sick all the time. One day Dog stayed home and hid to see if Cat was really sick and caught Cat playing with kitten. Dog was so upset that he started chasing Cat and that is why up till this day dogs chase cats.

  1. Getting caught in a lie

  2. Honesty and respect in a relationship

Reaction: This African American trickster tale is a short and fun read that will be enjoyable for the entire family of readers. Cat gets caught in a lie by Dog when she lies about being sick to not cook Dog dinner after he comes home from work. Dog got tired of cooking for both him and Cat and spied on Cat to see is she was really sick, ultimately catching her in a lie. This value can be applied to relationships because for any relationship to work it requires trust, honesty, and effort. The cat was the trickster thinking she can fool the dog however she got her comeuppance.
Discussion Questions:

  1. Based on this trickster tale, why do dogs chase cats till this day?

  2. Tell me about a time that you were caught in a lie.

  3. What made the Cat a trickster character?

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