The stories will serve not only to entertain, but would also instruct children in proper behavior and values. The tales can relate to industriousness, kindness, and perseverance. The old-fashioned quality of these stories make them refreshing for both the young and the young at heart.
Fairy tales, folktales and fables are a fascinating type of literature, unlike much of the literature intended to develop the child’s mind and personality that fails to stimulate and nurture those resources he/she needs most in order to cope with his/her difficult inner problems. Many books used to teach the children reading cheat the child of what he/she ought to gain from the experience of literature access to deeper meaning, and that which is meaningful to him/her at his stage of development. The tales from Spanish speaking countries can transmit their cultural heritage in a favorable manner as well.
It is my intention that the traditional tales, for example from Puerto Rico, will instill in the students the desire to become familiar with the literature from Latin American countries.
Fairy Tales have been described by scholars as “models for human behavior, [that], by that very fact, give meaning and value to life.”
Since fairy tales took shape as such, men, both primitive and civilized alike, have listened to them with a pleasure susceptible of indefinite repetition. They answer a deep need in the human being. We all want to experience certain perilous situations, to confront exceptional ordeals, to make our way to success, and we can experience all this on the level of our imagination by hearing or reading Fairy Tales. Events in fairy tales are often unusual and most improbable, but are always presented as ordinary, something that could happen to me or you or the person next door. The most remarkable encounters are related in casual, everyday ways. The ending is always happy in Fairy Tales.
Since most of my students are Hispanic, stories written originally in Spanish by Latin American authors will allow the Spanish-speaking children to recognize themselves and their own experiences in them. For example, the collection of Puerto Rican folktales I have chosen contains twenty-three folktales that reflect the colorful mingling of cultures—Taino Indian, Spanish, and African.
I hope this unit will inspire the teachers using it to expand their literary knowledge by reading novels by Latin American authors such as Juan Rulfo, Jorge Luis Borges, and Gabriel Garc’a Márquez. Doing so can only enhance your ability to work with Hispanic children.
Before I begin the actual lesson, let me leave you with this thought by the German poet Schiller: “Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood than in the truth that is taught by life.
The following fairy tale has been taken from THE SPANISH FAIRY BOOK by Gertrudis Segovia, translated by Elisabeth Quinn.