Today I'll be sharing Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptol. It is an African Cinderella Tale.
One of my favorite reading units is Fairy Tales. We read a bunch of different Cinderella stories and compare and contrast the stories in a variety of ways. Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters is one of my favorites for a few reasons. First are the beautiful life-like illustrations and secondly, it teaches a wonderful lesson about being kind and thoughtful.
In this story, there are 2 sisters: Nyasha and Manyara. Nyasha is kind and loving whereas Manyara is opposite from Nyasha in every way. She is bad-tempered and unkind. Manyara is often unkind to Manyara, but Manyara does not complain to their father and instead tends to her garden and befriends a snake named Nyoka. When the family hears that the kind is searching for a wife, the family plans a journey to meet him in hopes he will take one of the daughters as his wife.
On the journy, Nyoka transforms into various forms. Manyara is rude and selfish when confronted by Nyoka's forms, whereas Nyasha is kind and self-less. (SPOILER ALERT) In a surprise ending, Nyoka ends up being the king himself, and rewards Nyasha's kindness by taking her as his wife. The contrast of the two sisters shows that good things happen when you are kind.
Reading Level: DRA 30
Guided Reading N
- Scholastic Lesson: Go here for lesson ideas, including cross-curricular connections
- Reading Rainbow: Watch the Reading Rainbow episode of Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters
- Literature Guide: This link has before/during/after questions and various activities to go along with the book
*When there are so many vocabulary words important to the reading of a story, I like to do a jig-saw. I make groups of 4-5 students and give them 2 vocabulary words. They fill out the vocabulary 4-square (below as a freebie) together. Then, I rotate the groups so that 1 member of each of the original groups is in each of the new groups. The group members then each "teach" their 2 words to the other group members. I try to have the starting and ending groups prepared ahead of time, because otherwise the switch to jig-saw can be chaotic and wastes time.*
- Do the vocabulary jig-saw described above so students have at least a basic understanding of some of the difficult words in the story.
- Talk about where this fairy tale originates to give students some background knowledge.
- If you've taught fairy tale elements (see my post on fairy tales here) have students hold up a stop sign when they hear a fairy tale element in the story. We kept track of which stories had which elements throughout our entire Fairy Tale unit.
- Have students compare and contrast the 2 sisters while reading. Keep track of the observations they make about the sisters by using a chart paper t-chart or have the kiddos each get a copy like the one below (another freebie) and keep track on clip boards throughout the reading.
- Have students compare/contrast Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters with the Classic Cinderella (or other Cinderella story).
- This can be as simple as using a Venn Diagram.
- Students can work in small groups, partnerships or independently.
- If time is limited you can also have students write 1 way the stories are alike and 1 way they are different as an "exit ticket."
Thanks for stopping by for today's book talk, if you love teaching Fairy Tales as much as I do, this is a must-have for your Fairy Tale collection!
Tune into my blog tomorrow for Whole Brain Wednesday!