Why Are Folktales Important?
Our collection of folktales was developed to immerse children in timeless stories and help them discover a love of reading. These highly engaging stories represent a range of diverse story traditions. We’ve collected folktales from China, Africa, Latin America, India, Europe, Malaysia, the Middle East, Native America, and even remote places like the Marshall Islands or Siberia. As Margaret Read MacDonald writes, “A folktale is a story that has been passed from person to person.” Margaret also cites there are many forms and genres of folktales including:
Since folktales have been passed down through the oral tradition, they were honed for listening so they were easy to remember and share. As a result, folktales make it easier for children to differentiate characters, follow a plotline or recall a sequence of events. Not surprisingly, working with folktales can also help children develop the critical reading skills of phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension needed to meet the requirements defined in the Common Core Standards for Reading.
While these classic stories are not only highly entertaining, they also play an important role in passing along core values or character traits. Folktales were often employed to share a common history, to reinforce cultural values or highlight important traditions.
When people belonged to a tribe or lived in a small village, by necessity they needed to be able to get along well under a variety of circumstances and minimize conflict. Typically, only the chief, a high priest or a Shaman could confront someone over committing an offense. As a result, stories were often shared to intentionally clarify how a transgression had occurred. Hopefully, the person at fault would then recognize the parallel between their actions and a character’s mistakes in the story. As folktales were passed down over generations they modeled behaviors and helped reinforce expectations about how to live a meaningful life. Over time, folktales subtly incorporated character traits like caring, resourcefulness, trust or courage into the fabric of the stories.
Folktales also model the elements of effective decision-making. Characters in folktales invariably encounter conflicts that require them to make difficult decisions and take action to resolve a conflict. These decisions then lead to clear consequences that carry a message: making a “good” or more responsible decision results in positive outcomes while making a “poor” or irresponsible decision inevitably leads to negative outcomes. As a result, folktales can demonstrate the importance of making difficult decisions under challenging circumstances. Engaging children in discussions about the consequences of making poorly thought-out or rash decisions, helps them see the importance of making effective decisions in their lives.
Folktales by their nature celebrate diversity. By experiencing stories from different cultures, children can discover valuable insights about another culture’s values, beliefs, history, practices and customs. When children learn about diverse cultural traditions, they not only broaden their view of the world, they may also develop a greater appreciation of their own family’s heritage.
Folktales can be used in a variety of ways to help children:
- Develop stronger reading skills
- Study other cultures
- Model character traits
- Appreciate other traditions
- Learn about decision making
- Explore new ways of seeing the world
- Discover a love of stories
This article is borrowed from https://www.augusthouse.com/why-are-folktales-important