Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Read Around the World: Central Asia

I am very excited today to be featured as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs' Read Around the World Summer Reading Series! You can see the whole calendar of upcoming posts and blogs here. Mondays are for ages 5 and under, Wednesdays for children ages 6-11, and Fridays for ages 12-young adults. Great choices for all ages!

Tales Told in Tents: stories from Central Asia

I am sharing one of my favorite read aloud picture books, Tales Told in Tents: stories from Central Asia (2004) retold by Sally Pomme Clayton and illustrated by Sophie Herxheimer. This book gathers a wealth of stories, poems, and riddles from Central Asia, which includes Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

One reason I love this book is because it features an area of the world that is often unfamiliar to western readers. Many people in the US know of Afghanistan, of course, because of our long history of involvement there, but many would be hard-pressed to spell, much less find on a map, the rest of the countries of Central Asia!

Another reason I love this book is the detailed background information that the author includes. The book opens with an introduction about the importance of storytelling as well as the author's personal experiences listening to and sharing stories in Central Asia. The back of the book includes attributions and bibliographic details about the stories too, as well as a map and a glossary. These features really help the reader to better connect to these incredible people and cultures.

The final reason I love this book is because it features many great stories and characters that kids enjoy. Just to highlight a few favorites ...

  • The Bag of Trickness. This story from Kazakhstan stars the beloved Central Asia trickster Aldar-Kose. Kids will be in stitches listening with disbelief as Aldar-Kose tricks a rich man again and again and again!
  • Riddle Bazaar. This collection of riddles from Uzbekistan includes some stumpers, but clever readers will also scour the illustrations for clues.
  • The Secret of Felt. This origin story of the invention of felt involves two brothers, their sheep, and an unfortunate incident with a stubbed toe! Kids are fascinated by the way that wool becomes felt, and this is a great story to read in conjunction with a felt or felting craft project.

Felt and Felt-Making Project Ideas

Making felt is a fun and engaging project for kids too! There are two methods for making your own felt, needle-felting and wet felting. (Here is a great post, Beginning Needle Felting with Kids, using foam board and cookie cutters to keep hands safe.) Needle-felting is best with older children, as it involved a sharp needle, but kids of all ages can help out with wet felting. I am definitely going to talk to our art teacher next year about doing one of both of these adorable projects below!

Painting with Wool:
Wet Felting

Wet Felted
Easter Eggs

Not sure you want to make your own felt? You can also use store-bought felt for a wide variety of fun crafts and activities. Here are just a few that caught my eye:

Make Your Own
Felt Board Tutorial

Matryoshka Dolls

Felt Owl

What tales do you have to tell?

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