professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Everything old is new again

I had a couple of audiobooks ready to launch today as I knew I would spend about 6 hours commuting to and from a meeting with my friend and all-around brilliant colleague, Kylene Beers. I managed to complete the reading of SALT TO THE SEA with my ears before I had even made it as far a Huntsville. I launched right into a new audio after giving myself some time to wipe away tears from the incredible conclusion of Ruta Sepetys love, (and I heartily recommend reading it with eyes or ears as soon as you can).

The other audio I planned is a new full-cast recording of Grimm's Fairy Tales. All of the favorites are here: Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, Little Red Cap, Snow White and Rose Red, the Twelve Dancing Princesses, and more. True to the Grimm tradition, these are the stories that have not been sanitized for the protection of young readers a la Disney-fication. The stepsisters lop off parts of their feet, the wolf devours Grandma and Red. I know these stories well including many different iterations from other cultures and other storytellers. I know Perrault's version of Cinderella as well as Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters and Yeh-Shen and The Korean Cinderella and Cendrillion. But I do so love the Grimm versions with their vicious beasts, crazed stepmothers, witches, elves, and more.

Way back in the days when I would visit schools and kids often (I averaged about 10K kids each year), I would tell them the Grimm variant of Cinderella. At the start of the story you could almost hear their eyeballs rolling in their "sophisticated" heads. However, about the time of the cutting off toes and heels, the kids were with me. And the ending? They loved the idea of revenge. Librarians reported that the 398.2 sections (Dewey) started mad circulation afterwards.

Ancient stories that still resonate with contemporary readers: think of a new generation of kids who do not know anything outside of the Disney versions of the fairy and folk tales. Think of what they lack in terms of motifs and archetypes that could be "filled in" with recounting of these stories.

And I heartily recommend the audio version which features award winning narrators including Katherine Kelgren, Kate Rudd, Simon Vance, Jim Dale, Bahni Turpin, Jayne Entwistle, and so many others. The time and miles flew by; the rainy weather seemed somehow fitting as I listened to Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel and others. I loved dipping back into these tales. I saw connections between Snow White and Goldilocks. I noticed the connections from one take to another. The motifs and archetypes became even more pronounced as I listened.

At one point, preschool teachers were reporting kids coming to school without the background of fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Think of the missing pieces with the absence of those stories. Perhaps playing some of the various audio of these stories might be helpful? I know for me, the reading with my ears compelled me to start thinking of all the variants out there, about reading ladders for them, about making sure a new generation of kids know the stories of the very distant past.
Tags: archetypes, motifs, tales
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