What is the first five thing that comes to your mind when you think of Norway? Fjords, mountains, Vikings, Munch Ibsen, crime stories? From now on you might begin your list with the Norwegian folktale The Three Goats. This young reader, retold by Richard Northcott and illustrated by Stefano Misesti, is one of the latest in the Helbling Young Readers Classics series and is based on the original story Three Billy Goats Gruff . You have probably heard, seen or read at least one of the adaptations of the story. It was collected, first written down and published by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe in their Norske Folkeeventyr between 1841 and 1844. The first English translation was published in 1859, and since then numerous adaptations have been born in the forms of retellings, films, musicals, radio plays and animations.
Folktakes have two important characteristics which apparently seem to contradict each other yet make them so appealing for educational use. They are universal and can be found in variations in different cultures. At the same time they are also national and carry features which remind us of specific cultural settings. This is why they make such rich classroom resources. They are easy to understand thanks to their familiar plots, but they also take us on geographical, historical and cultural journeys to other countries and cultures.
The story of The Three Goats is an 'Eat Me When I'm Fatter' type story based on the Aarne-Thompson classification system of folktales. You can check out other titles categorised under this type on the website Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts. It is fascinating to see how connected our folktales are in their roots.
When you use the reader with young learners (level 'a' reader with basic language structures), let the story work on its own. It is enough to talk about the cover and do the Play Station activities, chants and games before starting to read. Reading aloud in an interactive way is the most beneficial approach when you read with children. Have fun with the three goats, and don't forget to learn the chant, do the creative activities and play the board game (the Play Station Project) after reading the story. And when you are done, it's time to start rereading the story from the beginning.
If you are interested in reading more about reading with young learners and folktales, check out our Blog posts below:
- Themes in Young Readers Part 1: Daily Life, Magic and Mythology
- Themes in Young Readers 2: the Natural World and the Environment
- 6 Strategies for Reading with Young Learners
- Discover Our Young Readers
- Once upon a time…
- Twice upon a time…
- The power of folktales in the language classroom
Here is a collection of websites you can use to learn more about Norway:
And some websites for more advanced learners and you:
Is there a folktale in your own culture and language you can recommend to us and our readers? Share them with us in the comments section.