group project: cinder stories


One of my classes the semester is called Literacy Through School Libraries, which entails pretty much what the title suggests.  For a recent group project, we were asked to devise a thematic family literacy event and submit a proposal that explains the specifics.  The following is a summary of our group’s proposal.

Cinder Stories


This family literacy event will feature alternative versions of the popular Cinderella story that students are familiar with.  The multicultural evening will focus on six stories of various origin:

  • Jewish
    Raisel’s Riddle
    Erica Silverman, Susan Gaber (illustrator)
  • Irish
    The Irish Cinderlad
    Shirley Climo, Loretta Krupinski (illustrator)
  • Egyptian
    Egyptian Cinderella
    Shirley Climo, Ruth Heller (illustrator)
  • Martinique
    Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella
    Robert D. San Souci, J. Brian Pinkney (illustrator)
  • Zimbabwean
    Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters
    John Steptoe (author, illustrator), Clarita Kohen (translator)
  • Algonquian
    The Rough-Face Girl
    Rafe Martin, David Shannon (illustrator)

Cinder Stories has been catered to the literacy needs of a small elementary school in a rural area.  The event was created with Owasco Elementary School in mind, a small institution in the Auburn Enlarged City School District in New York State.  Students in grades kindergarten through fifth will be invited to attend as the target audience, because the school wishes to reinforce the importance of literacy and family involvement.  While students are performing well academically, it is believed they could benefit from exploring cultures other than their own.  At Owasco Elementary School, parents are generally interested in school activities, and will likely participate as volunteers if necessary.

The teacher-librarian will serve as the chair of the committee that will plan and execute the event.  Other committee members will include the library aide, reading teacher, art teacher, and any other willing volunteers.


Main Activity: Cinder Stories
At the event, attendants will visit six stations, one for each adaptation of the Cinderella story.  The primary objective of the stations is to introduce attendants to the various stories and sample the cultures from which they come.  Each station will include:

  • Readings of that story by volunteers
  • Food local to that culture
  • Sets and decorations in the theme of the individual culture

Classroom Activities
In the week prior to the Cinder Stories event, classroom teachers will instruct students to create narratives and artwork to be displayed at the event.  One activity will allow students to write their own interpretations of the Cinderella story, from the perspective of any character each student chooses.  Art classes will work together to create murals and other set decorations.  In addition to enhancing the Cinder Stories experience, these and other activities will generate interest about the event among students.

Purim Puzzles
In the spirit of the Raisel’s Riddle story, all participants will collaborate on a large-scale crossword puzzle.  The questions will be relevant to the evening’s subjects, and student volunteers will accept answer suggestions and write them on a puzzle board measuring approximately 6’x6′.

Cinder Slippers
In this activity, families will have the opportunity to combine their current understanding of the Cinderella story with their new knowledge of the multicultural tales.  Each participant will be given a small plastic shoe in the style of the glass slipper, which he or she will decorate in the featured culture of his or her choosing.  They will be provided with craft supplies with which to adorn the shoes.

Students will enter their shoes into a contest to be judged by participating faculty.  The contest will be divided into six categories: one for each culture demonstrated at the event.  Entries will be judged on an anonymous basis, and the winners will receive a copy of the book used for the Cinder Story of each respective culture.

Cinder Stories: Students and Families Versus School Staff
The principal will host the evening’s final activity- a trivia game that teams students and their families against faculty and staff.  Trivia questions will be drawn from the evening’s activities, and participants will be informed of the game at the beginning of the event.  Students will be paired with their parent or caregiver to answer the questions.  The principal has generously offered to provide the prize if the staff team is defeated: he will shave his beard at the end of the night.  For additional incentive, this prize is mentioned in all event promotion.

Although staff members will make it look to students that they truly attempted to win the competition, the staff team is aware that they must lose. The principal will shave his beard off, which he has worn for many years. He will then walk around with a bag of prizes to give to the champions of the game, which will also allow students to get a good look at the newly shaved principal.  The prizes will be gift bags, which will include pencils, small treats, and bookmarks with the name and date of the event, as well as the phrase, “I am a 1st place Cinder Story reader.”


The following promotional materials will be distributed 2-4 weeks prior to the event:
(right-click each to open full-size images in a new window)

The promotional flyer will be printed in color and hung throughout the school, as well as at local business and community organizations.  It features the recognizable silhouette of the Disney character, with a landscape image of each of the six countries of origin of our multicultural stories.  The flyer is designed to be printed on 8.5”x11” paper, but responsible parties may opt to have the image printed on postcard-style invitations for increased publicity.

In addition to the color flyer, teachers will disseminate the following handout to all students approximately two weeks prior to the event.  As a cost-saving measure, the handout can be printed as photocopies.  Though it is in black and white, the dark background provides significant contrast that will stand out among other student papers.


To assess the effectiveness of the Cinder Stories family literacy event, participant families will complete a brief written evaluation of their experience.  The questionnaire will address overall satisfaction, areas for improvement, specific thematic issues, and general commentary.

As a follow-up to the family literacy event, volunteers and library staff will contact participants via telephone at least one month after Cinder Stories.  These phone calls will invite families to gauge their progress since the event and present an opportunity for the school to provide further resources to improve literacy within district family units.


One Response to “group project: cinder stories”

  1. Karen, thank you for the kind comments! I’m sorry for the delay in responding – my husband and I just bought a house and that’s been keeping us away from the computer. I love reading your blog and am very excited to (slowly) make my way through the MSLIS program at SU.

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