“While we know that one small work can’t provide everything for everybody, our hope is that anyone who picks up this book will find inspiration, motivation, and guidance to meet the needs of the children he or she serves.”
Bobby is an Emmy award-winning performer with an extensive background in comedy and a passion for history. Sherry is a former children’s librarian and a popular storyteller with over two decades of experience. What happens when you combine these two talented teaching artists? A phenomenal source of artistic expression and a wealth of educational wisdom.
Bobby and Sherry have collaborated on a number of books, including the popular series of Anansi picture books. With the beginning of the school year, we decided to focus on their timeless resource book: The Moral of the Story.
The book’s subtitle, “Folktales for Character Development,” highlights the main body of the book – thrilling and engaging stories to share with students of all ages, from Kindergarten through high school. The Norfolk's take these tales and weave key points for helping kids learn how to make ethical decisions when confronted with moral dilemmas.
Each story was selected to highlight specific character traits. The authors explore ways to develop persistence, respect, patience, and so much more – all through the use of folktales! Practical lesson recommendations, suggested activities, and a range of other resources are paired with the stories. A couple of the main features are “Story Notes” to help teachers engage the story with the class and “Source Notes” for anyone interested in learning more about the story with cited references to additional articles.
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of the stories compiled by Bobby and Sherry is that they include not only vivid folktales from the world’s oral traditions, such as the Zanzibar tale “Bibi and the Singing Drum,” but they also give special care to acknowledge the cultural stories from our own neck of the woods that may not be familiar to most people. One folktale found within Chapter 2 comes from the African-American tradition and is called “Teen Rap Crisis,” an original rap poem about self-esteem by DeAndre Redd. The authors even bring fresh vigor into the popular Norwegian tale, “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” by sharing their own hip-hop version of the classic.
Above all, the authors stress at the end of the book that knowing your audience is the key to making these stories work effectively with children. They leave it up to each teacher to know when it is best to share which stories - when their students are more in need of a model for taking responsibility versus an open discussion about justice or courage. Bobby and Sherry share their combined wisdom and provide invaluable resources on how to mold civic-minded and more culturally aware students, but they recognize that teachers are ultimately responsible for determining what works best in reaching their students.