Stories Told by and for Palestinian Children

Author: Sharif Kanaana


The main topic of this article is the writing of stories for children, those between the ages of three or four up to the age of nine or ten. This paper presents various genres of narratives for or by children. Prior to this research no work had been done on what aspects of folktales are inherently suitable for the mind of the child. The experiences which led me to what I consider the insights reached in this paper stem from three lines of research conducted in the last forty or more years of observing Palestinian society. The first of these three lines of research began in 1978 with the collection of traditional oral Palestinian folktales. The second line of research was the study of children’s Intifada narratives, and the third line of research was the study of what I call literary folktales. Starting with the last years of the intifada more and more Palestinian writers, poets and intellectuals began to pay increasingly more attention to children and to write for and about them. In these literary folktales the authors took some of the best known Palestinian traditional oral folktales and modified them in order, supposedly, to “improve” them, “refine” them and “update” them. The result is less likely to fit the needs of the children for whom they are written. Indications of the suitability of traditional folktales for children are found in the shared features found in both traditional folktales and stories invented and told by Palestinian children during the first Intifada. Examples of children’s narratives and suggestions for making use of these insights are given.


Keywords: Oral folktales, Intifada, narratives, Palestinian children.


Sharif Kanaana, PhD. Anthropology, Professor, Department of Social and Behavioral Science, Faculty of Arts, Birzeit University, Birzeit, Palestine. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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