An allegory can be a very powerful instructional tool. This 2 page short story titled, The Three Little Butterfly Brothers, by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey, is a child friendly allegory about race.
Carolyn Sherwin Bailey (1875-1961) was a children’s author and won the Newberry Award in 1947 for her book, “Miss Hickory.”
She wrote this short story as part of a book called, “Tell Me Another Story,” published in 1918, decades before the Civil Rights Movement.
This short story is an ideal mentor text to discuss allegory, racial equality, civil rights and bigotry. It's appropriate to introduce at any time, but could be especially timely near Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Allegory: A story with two levels of meaning—a surface meaning and a second, deeper meaning.
Surface meaning: This is a story about butterflies getting wet in the rain and the flowers won’t help.
Deeper meaning: This is a story about standing up for those of all ethnicities and fighting against bigotry.
This short, 2 page allegory can be used in a guided reading group, as a close reading activity, in a literacy center or as a read aloud.
Lorrie L. Birchall