African Legends, Myths, and Folktales for Readers Theatre

African Legends, Myths, and Folktales for Readers Theatre

African Legends, Myths, and Folktales for Readers Theatre

African Legends, Myths, and Folktales for Readers Theatre

Excerpt

As a children’s author I often have the honor of traveling to schools around the country, sharing my books and my passion for writing. Typically, when I visit a school I will present one or more assemblies, conduct several writing workshops, teach writing strategies to select classes or grade levels, and participate in any number of student interviews. Students are often amazed at the time necessary for a book to go from initial idea to bound volume, how books are produced, the number of drafts necessary before a manuscript is ready for the production process (20–30), and the myriad other duties and responsibilities of a children’s book author. They are equally interested in the life and times of a “real live author” outside the world of publishing. (“Did you really see red-hot lava when you were in Hawaii?”)

Invariably, during the question and answer sessions following the assemblies, children will pose the following: “Where do you get your ideas? I love that question, simply because it displays an innate curiosity about the creative process and a solid interest in all the dynamics of writing. Invariably, I respond that ideas can be found everywhere: in the books, magazines, and periodicals I read on a regular basis, in the people I talk with in job, in the schools I visit, in the places I travel to, and the airports I frequent, and in the movies, TV programs, and special videos I watch at home. I always try to make the point that ideas are all around—a writer just has to be prepared to capture them whenever and wherever they occur.

The genesis of this book is a case in point. My wife’s best friend (Vicky) has a daughter (Cassie) who spent her junior year in college studying in Cameroon. While there she met a young and talented artist (Cassie was an art history major) by the name of Bongaman. They soon fell in love, and when Cassie returned to the States they maintained their long-distance relationship via phone calls, e-mails, and text messaging. Cassie went back to Cameroon on two other occasions, and plans were made for Bongaman to immigrate to the United States. Eventually, after considerable paperwork, Bongaman was able to come to the United States in January 2007. He and Cassie married and moved to the Washington, D.C., area.

My wife and I were introduced to Bongaman shortly after he arrived in the States. We quickly developed a strong friendship. I would listen intently as Bongaman would tell of his life in a small village in Cameroon, stories about his family, and how he grew up to became a very talented artist. His narratives often reminded me of the tales I share in the storytelling programs I bring to schools—stories about African culture, legends, and folktales.

Immediately after our first conversation with Bongaman, it became very clear to me that a readers theatre book was needed to share the legends and heritage of several African countries. I also knew I wanted to illustrate the book! I carefully planned proposal and sent it to valued and wonderful editor at Teacher Ideas Press, Sharon Coatney. It was submitted to the review committee, and within a short period of time, a contract appeared in the mail. I spent several months in research and additional months in drafting the stories.

Those initial conversations with Bongaman have resulted in the volume you now hold in your hands.

To be able to share the legends of the African continent in concert with a native African artist is a most incredible experience—and certainly a most incredible honor! Bongaman and I have worked hard to bring you and the students with whom you work the culture and traditions of selected countries and selected people. His creative and dynamic art (on the cover and throughout this book), in . . .

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