n Mousaion - Cultural influence in stories told to young children

Volume 29, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



Even before children can speak they are exposed to culture. In many cultures, stories are told to young children as part of the "growing up" process. In a country like South Africa, which is a melting pot of cultures and languages, a South African culture is slowly emerging. The purpose of this article is to examine the decline of cultural influence in stories told to young children. This will be done through an examination of the storytelling culture of three different cultural groups found in South Africa, namely African, Afrikaner and Indian cultures. This storytelling culture is juxtaposed against the stories told to the parents of these children when they were young. The emerging trends are then discussed. The data were collected using qualitative methods from three adults, one from each culture. The method of data collection employed was an open-ended interview. Questions were asked on the type of stories that respondents were exposed to as children and the type of stories they expose their children to, as well as, where relevant, reasons for the change in storytelling styles. The findings of this qualitative inquiry indicated that all the participants were told stories by their mothers and/or grandmothers in their respective cultures when they were young, which they still remember. Their children, however, are exposed to very few or no stories from their culture despite the fact that in two of the cultures, the language used in the home is still the same. These findings show a move away from traditional stories told in different cultures. The article concludes with recommendations for establishing a South African culture of storytelling by incorporating the concept of a "rainbow" culture in the stories that are told to young children; preserving cultural stories; parents and the school curriculum promoting the storytelling genre; and using an alternative "fireplace" around which to tell stories.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error