BACKGROUND INFORMATION

This lesson plan is developed around the children's literature book by Ann Grifalconi, The Village of Round and Square Houses. This book is an African folktale about the village of Tos. This is a village like no other for the women live in round houses and the men live in square houses. The story is told from the point of view of a young girl who grew up there. The story tells about how a volcano near this village erupted and burned all of the homes except for one round house and one square house. The village chief called for the tall people (men) to live in the square house and the round people (women) to live in the round house. This story is told by a grandmother to her granddaughter one evening after dinner while they are sitting in the moonlight, looking up at Naka Mountain.

People in many of the villages in Africa live in mud huts with thatched roofs. The walls of the houses are made of mud bricks that have been dried in the sun. The roofs are made by weaving grass and plants around a cone-like structure.

Chinua Achebe, one of Africa's most influential and widely published writers explains in his book of essays, Morning Yet on Creation Day, about the African oral storytelling tradition. They believe that "art is, and always was, at the service of man. Our ancestors created their myths and told their stories for a human purpose." For this reason, Achebe believes that "any good story, any good novel, should have a message, should have a purpose." Stories pass down explanations for certain events and ways of life. Legends are usually regarded as grounded in fact; in many instances, they have proved to be extremely accurate accounts of the history of a people. Folktales, on the other hand, are recognized as fiction. The Village of Round and Square Houses is considered a folktale, yet it is also an accurate account of the village of Tos.

 

References:

Achebe, Chinua. Internet address (1998). http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/achebe.html

Grifalconi, Ann, (1986). The Village of Round and Square Houses. Little, Brown and Company.

Microsoft Encarta (1994 edition) [Computer software). 1993 Microsoft Corporation.

Ouelessebougou-Utah Alliance, Rick Van De Graff, Director, 1025 South 700 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84104.

 

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