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The Language of Literature, Grade 8
 
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Return to book index Unit 5 : American Voices
Tell a Tale: Cuentos

One Million Volumes
Tell a Tale: Cuentos (p. 858)

In "One Million Volumes," Rudolfo Anaya talks about listening to the cuentos of his grandparents. Research cuentos, the folk tales that were brought to the Southwest by Spanish and Mexican settlers and interwoven with the stories of Native Americans. Read a few of these tales, and then choose one to retell. Explain why you chose it.

Find books of folktales at the library or read cuentos online at one of these sites.

Magic Tales of Mexico http://www.g-world.org/ magictales/ home.html
In 1951, the web site creator's grandfather collected cuentos from Hispanic and Native American residents of northern Mexico and southwestern Texas. Almost 45 years later, after the grandfather died, the stories were found and placed on the Web (in English and Spanish) by his granddaughter.

The Boy and the Devil: A Story from the Borderland http://www.rain.org/ ~galvan/ boydevil.html
The illustrated tale of a boy who beat the Devil

Good storytellers know the importance of using body language in making a story come to life. While you practice telling your cuento, try out these nonverbal techniques.

  • Get ready. Good posture conveys confidence to your listeners, so sit or stand straight. Smile at your audience before you begin to show them you are glad they are listening.
  • Look them in the eye. As you tell your story, make eye contact to draw listeners into the story. Eye contact also helps you judge audience reactions so you can adjust your telling if needed.
  • Use your head. Let your face show what your characters are feeling. Sometimes expressions alone can be as effective as dialogue—lifting an eyebrow or a look of horror, for example. If you are telling a part of a story where two characters alternate speaking, try turning your head 45 degrees to the right to represent one character and 45 degrees to the left for the other.
  • Hand and body gestures. Move your hands and body when it feels natural. You might try using different postures and gestures for your main characters to help listeners tell which one is speaking.