African American Short Stories: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Nora Jarvis

Nora has a Master's degree in teaching, and has taught a variety of elementary grades.

In this lesson, you will learn about African American short stories and some of their history, ranging from age-old folk tales to original works from some of the Harlem Renaissance's most influential writers.

African American Short Stories

Storytelling has always been important in African American culture. Some stories, like folk tales, are told over and over again and passed down through generations. Since they are told by so many different people, no one knows who first told the story. Other stories are newer, created by authors who write their own original works.

African American Folk Tales

African American folk tales are stories that have been passed down through generations. Usually, they aren't written down; they're told orally and the story changes as the years go by. Folk tales are usually used to explain some type of cultural belief or tradition.

Annie Christmas

Annie, a strong woman who was seven feet tall, lived in New Orleans. One day, Annie took a trip on her boat. She came across a riverboat that was full of people having fun, and she hopped on board. She was singing and dancing with everyone when suddenly a terrible storm came. The captain of the riverboat wanted to take the boat down a narrow channel, even though Annie warned him that he would get stuck. Annie convinced all the passengers to get on her boat and she rowed them to safety. Sadly, Annie died several days later.

Can you imagine rowing up to a big riverboat like this?

The Magic Bones

There were three brothers who lived in a poor village without much food. The youngest brother got sick, and the older brothers took him to a tree and left him. The youngest brother needed to get food, so he set a trap. But instead of animals, his trap caught an old man. The youngest brother freed the old man, who gave him some magic bones. With the magic bones, the brother wished for a village with lots of food—and it appeared! The older brothers heard of this and went to the village. They tried to steal the bones from their brother. A rat and a hawk helped the youngest brother get the bones back, and when he did he made his brothers' villages disappear forever.

Original African American Works

In the 1920s, the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural movement of African Americans based in New York, was developing. Writers, artists, and musicians were creating beautiful works of art that depicted the lives of African Americans. One important figure was Langston Hughes, who wrote poetry and short stories.

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