Anansi Folktales: Learning Valuable Lessons

For the month of February, I wanted to share two folktales that can help teach your child valuable lessons about responsibility, citizenship, fairness, respect and sharing. These folktales written by Bobby and Sherri Norfolk and illustrated by Baird Hoffmire are a great fit for Black History Month as well since the culture of both books takes place in Africa. Why are folktales important? Check out this informative article available on August House’s website.

Why does a spider have a tiny waist? Find out in this book titled Anansi Goes to Lunch. This folktale is about the strong character, Anansi, a spider who finds himself in a tangle after being too greedy. The story takes you through a day with Anansi meeting up with different friends and getting invited to several different lunches. When he meets Hippo, he gets invited to have his favorite African meal; pork roast, yams, rice and beans. Can he resist? Of course not! He pulls out a long string from his pocket and says, “I’ll tie this string around my waist, and you take the other end. When lunch is ready to be eaten, just pull on the string and I’ll come running-and I’ll bring my appetite.” Hippo agrees and Anansi goes on his way. He then meets up with Elephant who also invites him for a meal and Anansi can’t resist. He gives Elephant a string and tells him to pull the string when lunch is ready. Finally, he sees Zebra who also invites him for lunch and of course Anansi agrees to that as well. What will Anansi do? All of a sudden, he feels a string pull, and then gets pulled in all directions. Where does Anansi go? Nowhere! He finds himself in a tangle and doesn’t get to enjoy lunch with anyone because he was being too greedy and couldn’t resist other invitation from friends. What does this book teach a child? This book is an excellent lesson in resourcefulness, responsibility and citizenship. Discuss with your child what the word “greedy” means and how it applies to Anansi. What should have Anansi done? What would you have done? What will Anansi have to tell his friends about missing lunch?

Anansi and Turtle Go To Dinner is a folktale about fairness, respect and sharing. The story begins with an explanation about the law of the jungle, “If you have company, and you have food, you must share the food with your company”. One day, Turtle comes over to Anansi’s house for dinner. Anansi invites Turtle in for dinner but just as they were about to eat dinner, Anansi tells his friend to go wash his hands. As Turtle washes his hands, Anansi eats rapidly so that he doesn’t have to share any food with Turtle. With most of the food already eaten, Turtle returns to the table. He states, “Anansi, you’ve been eating all of the food!” Anansi tells his friend that he is slow and needs to wash his hands again. Turtle had gotten dirty on the walk over so he goes back to the bathroom to wash his hands. When he returns to the table, Anansi has eaten all of the food. Turtle is very upset and leaves his house with an empty stomach. Turtle decides to invite Anansi over the following day to teach him a lesson. When Anansi arrives for dinner, he plays a couple of tricks on him so that Anansi does not get the opportunity to eat. At the end of the story, Anansi says to himself, “Turtle tricked me out of a meal just like I tricked him! I guess my mama was right: What goes around, comes around!” I think this book is an important lesson is treating others the way we want to be treated as well as sharing.  Also, this book can be an excellent way to show your children that they need to wait till everyone is seated at the table before starting to eat.

Are you a teacher? Check out these Common Core lesson plans  available at August House Publishing for Anansi Goes to Lunch  and Anansi Goes to Dinner for preschool, kindergarten, first and second grade.  Both lesson plans include a Common Core Checklist as well to help a teacher follow along with the curriculum.

Do you want to get a sneak peak at the book? Check out this video below…

Anansí Goes to Lunch (Story Cove)

Anansí and Turtle Go to Dinner (Story Cove)


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