I’ve heard from two teachers just recently panning folktales. “No one is interested,” they said. Then I saw the Fuse # 8 Production blog post from reviewer and NYC librarian Elizabeth Bird, “Where have all the folktales gone?” She was reviewing Bobbi’s Miller’s tale, One Fine Trade, and wrote that ever-so-few tales are being published. Oh, dear, and just when we are writing one. Then comes Bobbi Miller‘s compilation of essays about folktales from practitioners and editors.
Listen to Emma Dryden. She writes that folktales,”…which require time to read, which require thought to process, and which require the reader to reflect and ponder in addition to laugh or cry—are considered too quiet, too slow, too ponderous for today’s adults and children who are moving too quickly, whose attention spans are too short, and, really, who have not been educated or brought up to appreciate how what’s come before them still matters and informs what comes next…. History and mythology are the stuff of which great folktales come—and so folktales do not quite fit in with the current societal trends. This is tragically short-sighted, and this way of operating is doing a tremendous disservice to our children and to our future as a culture.” Wow, Emma.
Bobbi writes,”To my mind, a folktale does you little good if it doesn’t fall trippingly off the tongue.” She calls it an appreciation of language itself. Just heard “On Point”, the NPR show, recently on “India’s Great Texts Revisited.” Conversation was on epic myths, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, and the link to contemporary Indian films and stories. Fascinating. We’ve got work to do with this wonderful call to arms. Are there characters from folktales or myths that you still bump into today in the grocery store?