In this 3rd grade fiction unit, students explore the power of oral storytelling in African-American and Hispanic cultures through reading and listening to a wide variety of folktales and stories that have been passed down within families and communities for generations. Students read folktales from three collections, Tales Our Abuelitas Told, The People Could Fly, and Her Stories, that feature artfully crafted character descriptions that allow readers to deeply understand and engage with character motivations, traits, feelings, and actions.
Many of the stories in The People Could Fly and Her Stories were written during a time period in which Africans had been forcibly brought to America as slaves. Virginia Hamilton, the author of The People Could Fly, notes that “these tales were created out of sorrow. But the hearts and minds of the black people who formed them, expanded them, and passed them on to us were full of love and hope. We must look on these tales as a celebration of the human spirit.” This is what we ask students to do in this unit: to use these stories as a launching point to explore and understand the world around them, to grapple with what it means to be a good person, and to consider what they can learn from the experiences of others. This unit, in connection with others in the sequence, will challenge students to think about the power of storytelling and the influence it can have on individuals and entire communities.
The first five lessons in this unit are provided in this download. Lessons 6-21 are available for free on our website www.matchfishtank.org.