Saturday, March 20, 2010

"Once upon a time....."

Those familiar words are the beginning of many exciting folk tales, fables and fairy tales. March 22nd through 28th is World Folk Tales and Fables Week.

It's a week to encourage children and adults to explore the lessons to be learned from folk tales, fables, myths and legends from around the world. These stories vary from culture to culture but they often have similar morals, themes and characters. Sharing folk tales , fables and fairy tales with children is also a great way to enhance their literary skill.

Below is a list of folk tale related links:

SurLaLune stories for children

PBS Super Why

Aesops Fables Online

Books to Read during World Folk Tales and Fables Week

Picture Books based on Folk and Fairy Tales

African American Folktales for Black History Month

Now for our story.....

The Girl Who Could Spin Gold from Clay and Long Straw.....a tale from Sweden

There was once an old woman who had an only daughter. The lass was good and amiable, and also extremely beautiful, but at the same time so indolent that she would hardly turn her hand to any work. This was a cause of great grief to the mother, who tried all sorts of ways to cure her daughter of so lamentable a failing. But there was no help. The old woman then thought no better plan could be devised than to set her daughter to spin on the roof of their cottage, in order that all the world might be witness of her sloth. But her plan brought her no nearer the mark. The girl continued as useless as before.

One day, as the king's son was going to the chase, he rode by the cottage where the old woman dwelt with her daughter. On seeing the fair spinner on the roof, he stopped and inquired why she sat spinning in such an unusual place.

The old woman answered, "Aye, she sits there to let all the world see how clever she is. She is so clever that she can spin gold out of clay and long straw."

At these words the prince was struck with wonder, for it never occurred to him that the old woman was ironically alluding to her daughter's sloth. He therefore said, "If what you say is true, that the young maiden can spin gold from clay and long straw, she shall no longer sit there, but shall accompany me to my palace and be my consort."

The daughter thereupon descended from the roof and accompanied the prince to the royal residence, where, seated in her maiden-bower, she received a pail full of clay and a bundle of straw, by way of trial, whether she were so skillful as her mother had said.

The poor girl now found herself in a very uncomfortable state, knowing but too well that she could not spin flax, much less gold. So, sitting in her chamber, with her head resting on her hand, she wept bitterly. While she was thus sitting, the door was opened, and in walked a very little old man, who was both ugly and deformed. The old man greeted her in a friendly tone, and asked why she sat so lonely and afflicted.

"I may well be sorrowful," answered the girl. "The king's son has commanded me to spin gold from clay and long straw, and if it be not done before tomorrow's dawn, my life is at stake."

The old man then said, "Fair maiden, weep not, I will help you. Here is a pair of gloves. When you have then on you will be able to spin gold. Tomorrow night I will return, when, if you have not found out my name, you shall accompany me home and be my wife."

In her despair she agreed to the old man's condition, who then went his way. The maiden now sat and span, and by dawn she had already spun up all the clay and straw, which had become the finest gold it was possible to see.

Great was the joy throughout the whole palace, that the king's son had got a bride who was so skillful and, at the same time, so fair. But the young maiden did nothing but weep, and the more the time advanced the more she wept, for she thought of the frightful dwarf who was to come and fetch her. When evening drew nigh, the king's son returned from the chase, and went to converse with his bride. Observing that she appeared sorrowful, he strove to divert her in all sorts of ways, and said he would tell her of a curious adventure, provided only she would be cheerful. The girl entreated him to let her hear it.

Then said the prince, "While rambling about in the forest today I witness an odd sort of thing. I saw a very, very little old man dancing round a juniper bush and singing a singular song."

"What did he sing?" asked the maiden inquisitively, for she felt sure that the prince had met with the dwarf.

"He sang these words, answered the prince,

I dag skall jag maltet mala,
I morgon skall mitt bröllopp vara.
Och jungfrun sitter i buren och gråter;
Hon ver inte havad jag heter.
Jag heter Titteli Ture.
Jag heter Titteli Ture.

Today I the malt shall grind,
Tomorrow my wedding shall be.
And the maiden sits in her bower and weeps;
She knows not what I am called.
I am called Titteli Ture.
I am called Titteli Ture.

Was not the maiden now glad? She begged the prince to tell her over and over again what the dwarf had sung. He then repeated the wonderful song, until she had imprinted the old man's name firmly in her memory. She then conversed lovingly with her betrothed, and the prince could not sufficiently praise his young bride's beauty and understanding. But he wondered why she was so overjoyed, being like everyone else, ignorant of the cause of her past sorrow.

When it was night, and the maiden was sitting alone in her chamber, the door was opened, and the hideous dwarf again entered. On beholding him the girl sprang up, and said, "Titteli Ture! Titteli Ture! Here are your gloves."

When the dwarf heard his name pronounced, he was furiously angry, and hastened away through the air, taking with him the whole roof of the house.

The fair maiden now laughed to herself and was joyful beyond measure. She then lay down to sleep, and slept till the sun shone. The following day her marriage with the young prince was solemnized, and nothing more was ever heard of Titteli Ture.

* Story Source:Benjamin Thorpe, Yule-Tide Stories: A Collection of Scandinavian and North German Popular Tales and Traditions, from the Swedish, Danish, and German (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

World Storytelling Day

Ha! I finally managed to blog about something before the actual date. Yea me!!

World Storytelling Day is Saturday March 20th.
The theme for 2010 is Light and Shadow.

Grandmother Spider Brings the Sun to Earth

One Day, One Night
By Master Storyteller Joe Hayes From his book "Here Comes the Storyteller"

Here is a story that goes way back to the beginning of time. They say that way back then things were very different. There was not a steady rhythm of days and nights like there is now. Instead it might be dark for 10 years in a row. And then light for one day. And then it could be dark again for eight long years. And then light for one day.

Some of the animals were happy with the way things were. They were the animals that liked the darkness. But many animals were unhappy. They preferred the light.

Rabbit was an unhappy animal because she would feel a lot safer if she could see her enemies creeping up on her.

Squirrel didn't like it, either. She liked to run down one tree branch to the very end and then take a long, flying leap and catch another branch and run up it. But in the dark Squirrel would miss the second branch and fall and hit her head almost every time.

Nor did the birds like it. Well, one bird, Owl, was happy, but not the rest of them, not even Hawk and Eagle. They could hunt better when it was light.

So one day when Sun happened to be shining, Eagle flew clear up to Sun and told him that many animals were unhappy. There wasn't enough daylight.

Sun said he wanted all animals to be happy. He told Eagle to call the animals together and let them talk about it. However, they wanted things to be-however much darkness and daylight they wanted-Sun said he would make things that way.

Eagle called the animals together, and each animal stood up and said how he thought things should be arranged. The biggest and strongest animals were the first ones to talk. So Bear stood up first and growled, "Ten years of darkness, then one day of light."

But other animals had different ideas. Skunk said, "I think there should be four years of darkness, and then-n-n . two days of light."

Badger grumbled, "Ah, why can't it just be dark all the time?"

But Rabbit jumped up and said, "No! It should be light all the time."

Then Bluebird chirped, "My children need daylight! My children need daylight!"

There were many different ideas. The last animal to speak was Frog, with an idea no one else had thought of. Frog stood and croaked, "One day, one night. One day, one night."

Right away most of the animals saw that this was the best idea of all. The day and the night should just follow one another like black and white beads along a string.

But Bear wasn't going to let the weak little frog tell him how things should be. Bear kept growling, "Ten years of darkness, one day of light."

Before long all the animals were in two groups: the few that agreed with Bear and all the rest, who agreed with Frog. And they could not settle their difference.

Eagle had to fly back to Sun and tell him that now all the animals were in two groups, unable to come to an agreement. Sun said there was one way to resolve the argument. Each group would choose one animal to speak for it. And the animal who could speak the longest without stopping, saying how he wanted things to be, would be granted his way.

Eagle told the animals, and right away Bear said he would talk for his group. He laughed and laughed when he heard that Frog would talk for the other group. Bear was sure he could roar so loud that Sun would not even hear Frog.

When the time for the contest came, Bear went and stood on one bank of the river. Frog hopped onto the other. Bear didn't even wait for the signal to begin. Right away he began growling, "Ten years of darkness, one day of light!"

Only after the signal came did Frog begin: "One day, one night. One day, one night."

At first Sun could hardly hear Frog, because Bear was so loud. But Bear was not used to talking all the time, and his throat started getting sore. His voice grew hoarse, but he kept repeating, "Ten years of darkness, one day of light!"

Bear slurped some water from the river. His voice then came back strong. "Ten years of darkness, one day of light!" But it did not hold up long. He started losing it again. And soon Bear's mouth was moving, but no sound was coming out: "__________________!"

On the other side of the river, however, Frog was just getting warmed up: "One day, one night. One day, one night."

Finally Bear had to admit he had been beaten. He walked away grumbling.

But Frog never did stop talking! Even now, if you go outside on a warm evening, you can hear Frog out there by the water. If you could speak his language, you would hear him say: "One day, one night. One day, one night."

And that's how things have been ever since: a day followed by a night, and then another day and another night.

Yet when the weather gets cool in the fall of the year, Frog hides under a rock and goes to sleep. Then Bear starts grumbling again, "Ten years of darkness, one day of light!" And then Sun can hear Bear. A little bit frightened of Bear, Sun starts traveling a little more quickly across the sky each day. So the days get shorter and shorter all through the fall.

But when the really cold weather sets in, Bear finds a cave in the mountains and goes to sleep. When he does, Sun feels braver, and starts traveling more slowly across the sky each day. Then the days get longer and longer.

All of this happened a long time ago. But ever since that time, among all the animals, and especially among the people, it isn't the one who is biggest and strongest who gets things his way. The one who gets things his way is the one who has a good idea and then says what he wants over and over and over. That's how to get things your way in the end!

Copyright © Joe Hayes

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

World Read Aloud Day

Yes, it's another day dedicated to reading, books and kids....well, you can read to adults too.

World Read Aloud Day

March 3, 2010 has been established as LitWorld's first World Read Aloud Day to celebrate and encourage the invaluable practice of reading aloud and to bring attention to the importance of literacy across all countries and for all of humanity.
info found at

Here's a short tale about Nasreddin Hodja. Read it to someone today.
A beggar was given a piece of bread, but nothing to put on it. Hoping to get something to go with his bread, he went to a nearby inn and asked for a handout. The innkeeper turned him away with nothing, but the beggar sneaked into the kitchen where he saw a large pot of soup cooking over the fire. He held his piece of bread over the steaming pot, hoping to thus capture a bit of flavor from the good-smelling vapor.

Suddenly the innkeeper seized him by the arm and accused him of stealing soup.

"I took no soup," said the beggar. "I was only smelling the vapor."

"Then you must pay for the smell," answered the innkeeper.

The poor beggar had no money, so the angry innkeeper dragged him before the qadi(judge).

Now Nasreddin Hodja was at that time serving as qadi, and he heard the innkeeper's complaint and the beggar's explanation.

"So you demand payment for the smell of your soup?" summarized the Hodja after the hearing.

"Yes!" insisted the innkeeper.

"Then I myself will pay you," said the Hodja, "and I will pay for the smell of your soup with the sound of money."

Thus saying, the Hodja drew two coins from his pocket, rang them together loudly, put them back into his pocket, and sent the beggar and the innkeeper each on his own way.