International Literature and Storytelling

I was asked to present to the students in Brock University’s International Course last week.  These students are taking this optional course because they intend to teach abroad:  China, England, South Africa etc.  I endeavored to introduce them to the international literature through the folklore from around the world.  We traced back the illustrated fables of Eric Carle, to Marie de France, to Aesop to the Jataka Tales of India.  They had no idea this tiny little collection of moral stories went back so far or were shared by so many cultures.  It was fun to watch them make connections. We explored a Bengali folktale (one of my personal favourites) that depicts talking poop (Eastern humour- we North Americans are a bit too uptight to put this kind of hilarity in our picture books) and looked for characteristics in other cultural stories that would make that story worth sharing.  There was a lot of laughter and they asked a lot of questions- always a good sign.  Most had not heard storytelling before.  And there lie the magic.  They all want to tell now.  I hope the students in the countries they travel to, are delighted with their selections and efforts.  I wish them much happiness in their journeys.