Traditional literature has been popular for thousands of years. It is a chain of communication through the centuries – a long folk memory stretching from ancient times to present. Before writing there was story and before story there was language. Folk literature is as old as humanity. It represents the accumulated wisdom and art of humandkind springing from the many cultures in the world. Primitive humans shared , celebrated , and remembered experiences through story, art. Stories in these early days were transmitted by word of mouth- in fact, the word tale means “oral” in the original anglo-saxon language. Storytellers entertained and instructed with timeless tales of greed, jealousy, love and need for security as they relaxed around nightly campfires. The identities of the acual originators of these folktales are lost in the passage of time; therefore the written versions that we have today of these tales are credited to retellers rather than authors.
The tales we enjoy today have survived for hundred of years, polished and edited by storytellers throughout history who shared their own idioms, perspectives, and particular ways of knowing, clothing their folk memories with imagination. Every time a storyteller tells a story; the story changes, giving the rise to thousands of variations of a single tale, which grows or shrinks over time as portions are added or deleted by different teller. The signficance of a story, its symbolism, may change over time because its original inspiration- often a particular event or social or political issue, disappears. A folktale is a living thing that frequently lives longer than the issue leading to its birth. Since all humankind shares in these folk memories, people throughout the world appreciate the stories. Folktales have always been children’s favorite type of traditional literature anda re enjoyed by children from about age 3 and up. One of the most interesting and important characteristics of these tales is their universality as I mentioned above.
The form and content of folktales, even from vastly different cultures, appear to be remarkably similar: people of all times and places share common concerns, fears, desires, and wishes. The universal themes mirror the hopes, dream, fears, and values of humans in all cultures. For example, there are hundred of versions of the Cinderella story from such diverse cultures as the German , French and Chinese. The details and modifications that appear in variant folktales reflect the society or culture that produced them. Folklore says a good deal about times in which its creators lived and about their needs. Folktales have to do with accomplishing impossible fears, escaping from powerful enemies , outwritting the wicked people in the world, earning a living, securing food, and protecting the weak. They illustrate the traits and ethics valued by a culture. ” The Fisherman and His Wife” teaches that wishing is foolish and that we should be satisfied with what we have. They help perpetuate the cultural values. “Little Plum”, a modern Picture-book version of the Tom Thumb story by Ed Young, teaches children that size has very little to do with success and ability. Taboos and concepts of right and wrong are passed from one generation to the next through stories. Cinderella stories teach unselfishness, and the golden groose teaches the evils of greed.
Traditional literature has many contemporary values. It continues to entertain modern children, just as it once entertained both children and adults around the campfires of long ago. Folktales celebrate imaginary feats that would be imposibble in real life. They expolore good and evil, taboos, and the supernatural. Stories give us heroes, wise men, wizards, and magicians, as well as monsters, giants, and dragons. They may comfort children or frighten them depending upon the teller’s purpose. In traditional stories, characters can do things not permitted in real life.
They can express anger and frustration without fear of reprisal. “Nothing in the entire range of children’s literature – with rare exceptions- can be as enriching and satisfying to child and adult alike as the folktale fairy tale.. A child can learn more about the iner problems of man and about solutions of his ownpredicaments in any society, than he can from any other type of story within his comprehension. Traditional literaute is a rich source of content for multicultural studies and global education that can be used to develop children’s cultural awareness and understanding. A Native American tale The Boy Who Dreamed of an Acorn teaches that all children are searching for their place in the world and that all children have dreams. Oh, Kojo! How Could you!, an african folktale , can play an important role in developing understanding of some of the many cultures in our country and our world.
Children are natural, and are loaded with strong imagination, intense feelings, they approach life as black and white, larger than authenticity, their rivals are demons, and their friends are angels
Children’s literature exists on many levels. It can be categorized according to the age of the children in the target group, ranging from children that cannot read by themselves to adolescents. Ages 5-8 is called primary level and Marshall James’s The three Little Pigs , Martin Rafe’s Foolish Rabbit’s Big Mistake can be example for these children. Age 8-11 is called Intermediate level and Margaret Hodge’s The Hero Of Bremen, Julius Lester’s The Tales of Uncle Remus can be example fort his group. Age 11-14 is called Advanced level and Hansel and Gretel can be an example fort his group too.
In the old days, children did not have particular tales to read or listen to individually, but simply read or listened to tales together with adults. This was certainly true of most lullabies, the content of which was not composed for children; the latter merely listened or responded to the rhythm while the adults listened to the story. The tales are the same. Although the main characters are children, the story may contain cruelty, such as in the story of The Pla Boo Thong (The Golden Fish), in which the father kills the mother and the step-mother kills the step-daughter. With developments in modern education, adults are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of children’s literature in stimulating children’s mental and emotional growth; moreover, it helps to cultivate the thought processes and imagination of young children. The popularity of the bestselling series The Adventures of Harry Potter all around the world, has prompted writers to revive folktales and traditional literary works, to retell them and re-create them in different literary forms and content in order to attract the attention of the younger generation.
There are four ways to create contemporary children’s literature based on traditional sources. The first method involves the re-creation of the story with new imaginative touches. They create new versions which are based on an old story but with some new imaginative touches added. The second involves the creation of a new story line with certain characters from old tales. They borrow certain characters or certain motifs from traditional literary masterpieces to create new stories. The third involves a parody of certain literary conventions and motifs. They satirize literary convention or certain motifs from traditional literature. The fourth involves the transformation of traditional literature into picture-book form or comics. The writers transform an old tale into picture books or comic books.
Use of traditional motifs in children’s literature is of an immensely important function in that they give children effective messages related to their traditions dominant elements of
which are especially like kindness, favor, and honesty. In these motifs, it is possible to attain
some signs concerning customs and traditions, ethical value perceptions, view of life, and
expectations of a society in these motifs.
It can be seen that many aspects of traditional literature and folktales have been passed down to the present day and included in contemporary children’s literature: repetition, recreation, parody and transformation. They may refer directly to the original works or interpret them in order to present new meanings or satirize certain literary conventions and motifs. The authors of these books may intend to conserve only some elements of the narration from the old days and recreate them for new generations of readers. Therefore, reality, possibility and modernity are important reasons for the adaptation.
The transformation of traditional literature into picture books is an interesting strategy to introduce young readers to read folktales and traditional literary works. But some of them, keep only the names of the main characters and some incidents, then, new stories are created around them. In this way, it may be said that contemporary children’s literature may both conserve and destroy traditional literature. Moreover, some contemporary children’s literary works which are written in prose may not be able to conserve traditional literary aesthetics. The examples mentioned in this paper have differing degrees of quality and value. This cannot be denied and should be the subject of further study. Therefore, the accumulated legacy from traditional literature reveals that literature and literary conventions are always dynamic and subject to constant revival and renewal.