Unsung Children’s Stories

This week for Children’s Book Week, I’ve been focusing on good children’s literature. However, there is one section of children’s stories that has not been addressed. This is one that every single one of us has had a hand in. How many have heard the words, “Tell me a story”? All of us have either told a story to a young child because they asked, or we were told to tell a story in class. These tales often go unnoticed, yet have great value. They teach, they inspire, and they encourage.

The last several weeks at school, my Spanish 2 students have been working on a fantasy story. The majority of them thought the story up in English and then are translating it over into Spanish with varying success. The real success though is watching them work. The process was noisy to begin with as they looked at the fantasy motifs and hero’s round that I handed out. They talked and talked and talked. “Hey, what about…” “I know, I’ll…” “What if the dragons become dinosaurs!” Then as the stories were shared with their classmates and put into English, the noise level dropped. They studiously began working on translation. They learned a lot about how to transfer ideas into another language. Finally, they began talking again as they illustrated their books. “Would you draw a dinosaur for the army?” “Here’s my story” “My illustrations will never compare to yours!”

These stories though have great potential for children’s books. We have the dinosaurs versus elephants with a mighty glowing peanut and a spatula made from lightning from the gods. We have an angel who falls in love with a “man” who turns out to be the god of Hades; they have a little girl who is watched over by a special person. We have a twist on Hansel and Gretel. All of them deserve recognition.

Every once in a blue moon, one of these types of stories makes it into the publishing world–Tom Bombadilo from Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Peter Pan, Dragon’s Future. Wait! What was that last one? Yep, a story that I wrote and read to my son will be published by Booktrope. It is scheduled to come out this summer. Because my story managed to make it into publishing, I have encouraged my students to try. Why not dream big? Why not put forth the effort to put your story into someone’s hands? In the meantime, the Spanish stories will be turned in and then cherished by some of them. I wish I could mass produce a few of them. But I will encourage them to grow, learn, keep trying, and above all–Dream Big!

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