As a Special Education Resource Teacher, my primary function is to teach children reading skills. My most difficult task is making the lesson interesting enough to arouse student interest. Our present texts fail to stimulate or motivate children in elementary grades. The readers used are designed to teach necessary skills, irrespective of meaning; they are shallow in substance and very little is gained from them.
In order to hold the child’s attention, a story must entertain as well as arouse curiosity. The stories should at the same time relate to all aspects of his personality, thus promoting confidence in himself/herself.
This unit will attempt to accomplish the above by using the following stories: (1)
The Spanish Fairy Book
by Gertrudis Segovia and
The Three Wishes—A Collection of Puerto Rican Folktales
by Ricardo E. Alegr’a. However, teachers may use traditional fairy tales as well as stories from other countries.
The reason I chose Hispanic tales is because my students are seventy-five percent Hispanic. This will have a dual purpose: The children will have an introduction to Spanish literature and it will also serve as a way to give meaning to their culture.
This unit can be utilized by reading specialists, classroom teachers, bilingual teachers, special education teachers, and teachers teaching English as a second language. It can provide each teacher with a supplement to their present reading program.
The tales can be used as a story telling session, reading a different tale everyday or as an assigned reading lesson to be completed at home and discussed in class. It can also provide an additional reading in class by the students in groups depending on availability of materials and time.
For the purpose of this unit, the grades I have chosen are third and fourth. However, if you choose traditional fairy tales, you can utilize this unit for lower grades as well.
A discussion of where the tales came from will provide the student with interesting information. This can be used as the first step to introducing the literature. For example, some stories are very old and have reached the Latin American countries from the Orient. Each tale will be discussed in detail. The family structure will be explored, especially the relationships between adult and child. The families in the stories will be compared with modern families.
The readings can also be used to provide the student with a moral education. By implication only, the tales will convey to him/her the advantages of moral behavior, not through complicated explanations but through story predicaments that are meaningful to him/her.
In addition to fairy tales, this unit is designed to encourage teachers to use folktales, fables, myths, and stories from other countries. A bibliography will be included with this unit which will be helpful in selecting these tales for your students. I have also included a bibliography of books for children written in Spanish for the bilingual teachers who can use this unit for their students who are not English proficient.