Traditional Literature

Hello Friends and Family of Ms. Peterson’s 2nd Grade,
Thank you for checking our blog!

We are learning about many different types of traditional literature. I have listed the types that we are studying below:

1) Fables
2) Legends
3) Folk Tales
4) Myths
5) Tall Tales
6) Fables

What makes a story a form of “traditional literature?”:

Your student is learning how to classify if a story really is a type of traditional literature or if it is a different type of literature. I have included some characteristics of traditional literature below so that you can help your students classify their books.  All of this information comes from the book, Children’s Literature: Discovery for a Lifetime.

1) Traditional Literature was originally passed on by word of mouth, they were not written down (93).
2) They do not have a known author, because they were passed on orally (93).
3) The traditional literature stories are created by retellers (94). (They wrote the stories, but did not come up with the story)

Your child’s story is NOT traditional literature if it:

1) is a comedy/parody of a traditional story
2) has a known author
3) if it says it is “based on” a traditional literature story

Some examples of traditional literature:

Next, I have included a couple of traditional literature stories that you may wish to share with your students. I have also included reasons why they are classified as traditional literature and a summary of each story.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears:

Cover image:

Piumini, Roberto, reteller. Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Valentina Salmaso, Illus. Minnesota: Picture Window Books, 2010. Print.

Type of Traditional Literature: Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a folktale. This story is told by a reteller because there is no known author. There is an element of magic in this story because the bears are able to talk and are living like they are humans.  Also, it begins with “once upon a time”, which is another characteristic of a folk tale (Stoodt-Hill, 98).

Summary: One day, a large bear, a medium-sized bear, and a small bear cooked a pot of porridge, but it was too hot to eat right away. So they decided to go for a walk and let it cool. While they were gone, a curious little girl named Goldilocks came across their cottage. No one was home, so she went inside. She was hungry, so she tried each of the bears porridge and ate the small bear’s whole bowl of porridge. Then she decided to sit down. She tried each of the bears chair and decided to sit in the small bear’s chair. She broke the small bear’s chair. Then, she decided to take a nap. She tried to sleep in each of the bear’s beds, but finally decided that the small bear’s was the most comfortable. The bears came home and noticed that someone had been eating their porridge and sitting in their chairs. They went upstairs and found Goldilocks sleeping in the small bear’s bed. Goldilocks woke up terrified and jumped out the window and ran away. The bears went back downstairs to eat the remaining porridge and fix the small bear’s chair.

This story would be great to share with your 2nd grader because:
• This story is written in a way that it is easy for second graders to understand.
• The most difficult vocabulary words are defined at the end of the story.
• This story teaches students the very simple but important lessons of locking your door when you leave your house and not going into other people’s homes unless you are invited.

The Lion and the Mouse:

Cover Image:

Percy, Graham, reteller. The Lion and The Mouse. Illus. author. Minnesota: The Peterson Publishing Company, 2010. Print.

Type of Traditional Literature: The Lion and the Mouse is a fable. The story is very short and teaches a life lesson or moral like fables often do. The story has animals serving as the main characters. The animals are able to communicate with each other. The mouse in the story has many human like characteristics such as cooking dinner and doing laundry for her children and wearing human like clothing.

Summary: One day a small mouse got very tired while she was out collecting dinner for her family. She found what she thought was a soft brown stump to take a nap on. To her surprise, she actually fell asleep on the paw of a lion. The Lion lifted the mouse up to his face and started to smack his lips like he was about to eat the mouse. The Mouse begged the mouse not to eat her and she promised that she would one day help the lion in some way. The lion laughed at the mouse because he did not believe that a mouse would ever be able to help him, but he let the mouse go anyway. One day, the mouse heard the Lion roar for help. He had been caught under a hunter’s net and could not get out. The mouse ran to his rescue and chewed through the net to set the lion free. The lion thanked the mouse for setting him free.

This story would be great to share with your second grader because:
• It can teach 2nd grade students simple life lessons of returning good deeds and not judging the worth of a person on their size alone.
• The moral, “A good deed should be returned” is stated before the first page of the story.
• The definition of a moral is located on one of the last pages of the book.
• This story could be a great way to get 2nd graders interested in reading more fables.

Teacher recommendations:

If your student is interested in illustrations, I would suggest that you share Goldilocks and the Three Bears, retold by Roberto Piumini with your child. The illustrations are very vivid and interesting. The illustrations could almost tell the story by themselves.
The illustrations are very detailed. Have your student look for all of the things in the illustrations that appear in threes.

For example:
1. three pairs of shorts on the clothes line
2. three fish on the wall
3. three pictures on the wall
4. three alarm clocks
5. There are many more—you and your student can find the rest!!

The illustrations in The Lion and the Mouse, retold by Graham Percy, are also very nice, but they are not as detailed and vivid.

If you are interested discussing the displays of culture in traditional literature, Graham Percy does a good with this in The Lion and the Mouse. At the end of his retelling, he explains that it was written by Aesop and that Aesop’s fables are known in almost every culture around the world.

Roberto Piumini does not clearly identify which culture this folk tale was originally from. His retelling seems to be one that many cultures could identify with and understand.

Information about traditional literature is from:
Stoodt-Hill, Barbara D. and Linda B. Amspaugh-Corson. Children’s Literature:  Discovery for a lifetime. 4th Edition.  Upper Saddle River, N.J.:  Prentice Hall, 2009.
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