A River Of Stories


The fourth volume in this series, 'A River of Stories- Fire' is an amazing collection of stories and poems from across the Commonwealth. Each volume is a rich resource for teachers ( parents, librarians...) to draw on and to explore with their children.

We chose 'Volume 4- Fire' for this year's long list as we felt it offered so many opportunities for cross curricular work as well as offering excellent quality models for literacy. In 'A Note from the Anthologist', the reader is told '(this collection)...celebrates the unique imaginary heritage of cultures encompassed by the Commonwealth.' It certainly does!

Although loosely grouped into sections, this is a book to linger over and relish. For the teacher looking for something to base work around, there is no end of choice!

So, where to begin! Firstly, there's the obvious link to other cultures being studied in class, through Geography, History etc, but also to develop children's knowledge of the world beyond this! For example, 'Yasur, the Volcano Man' would make an excellent way into studying volcanoes and the stories and legends behind their existence whilst introducing children to the island of Tanna in the South Pacific Ocean. 

Teachers might also find this an invaluable source of stories and poems linked to the cultural backgrounds of children in their class. Containing trickster tales, origin myths, animal tales and so on, there are stories in the collection that could be compared and contrasted others children might already be familiar with, demonstrating how all cultures have shared ideas and values as well as those which differ.  

Many of the poems included could be used for exploring ideas about meaning and for developing comprehension. Containing language which might be unfamiliar, children love to explore possible alternatives that might fit the context of a poem before discussing the poet's original choice. Others could be used as models for writing ( The Fireflies' Dance, Gallery III) Others (Mama, Confession) would make excellent starting points for RE, PSHE and so on.

The artwork throughout this book (and in the others in the series) is equally wonderful. Vibrant, scorching colours leap off every page, reminding you of the power of fire, its beauty and potential danger. Completely in keeping with origin of each story/ poem, the illustrator also manages to maintain a commonality between them, giving the book a harmonious feeling, once again enforcing the fact of human similarities over differences!

A beautiful and much needed resource from the Commonwealth Education Trust, you can find out more about their work on their website: http://www.commonwealth.org.uk

A River of Stories: Volume 4- Fire

Compiled by Alice Curry, illustrated by Emma Butler

Commonwealth Education Trust    ISBN: 978-0992991029