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24 September 2014

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An Eritrean family enjoys the story-telling day
Nejat's son wrote their story

Children's folk tales from around the world

by Penny Shillito
Traditional tales from around the world are being kept alive through translations by children living in Norfolk. Families from new communities are collecting children's stories from their original countries and cultures.

Children in Norwich, whose parents have made England their home, are writing and illustrating stories from their native countries.

The families come from countries including Eritrea, Kosovo, Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Turkey and many had to leave their homes to escape war or persecution.

English may not be the first language of the families, but the children speak English at school and are helping their mothers by translating the traditional tales - stories which have previously been handed down by word of mouth through the generations.

Storytelling group

Families meet to translate stories from many lands
Families meet at the story-telling group

Dee Robinson of the New Routes Partnership runs the International Friendship And Storytelling Group for mothers and children at the Marlpit Community Centre in Norwich.

She came up with the idea of compiling a collection of traditional tales from the parents' home countries, and publishing them. For many of the children, it's the first time they've heard these stories.

"It will provide a record of tales that might otherwise be lost," said Dee.

Some of the mothers taking part in the project have contacted their grandparents to remind them of stories told to them when they were children.

Writing the stories can take a long time for the younger ones, as games and play are part of the fun too.

The mothers enjoy meeting one another, because many families are separated from the relatives and friends they left behind when they came to England.

The International Friendship And Storytelling Group meets on Wednesdays from 10am to 1pm at the Marlpit Community Centre, Norwich.

For more details contact Dee Robinson on 01603 632816 or  e-mail

Grandpa Nasrettin

Sevgi at the International Storytelling Group
Sevgi and her little brother

Nine-year-old Sevgi from Turkey has translated her family's story, Grandpa Nasrettin. 

One day Grandpa Nasrettin walked into his house and his wife said, "Grandpa Nasrettin I'm going to make dinner, but there is no saucepan to make it in. Go  to our neighbour and ask if we can borrow one."

Grandpa Nasrettin went next door and said, "may I borrow your saucepan please?" But their next door neighbour said "No!"

"I beg you! I beg you please," said Grandpa Nasrettin.

The neighbour said "All right, but bring it back when you have finished with it."

"Oh thank you and I will bring it back," said Grandpa.

The next day Grandpa Nasrettin put a little tin inside the neighbour's saucepan and went and gave it back to her.

"What is this small pan doing inside my big one?" she asked.

"Your pan has given birth," said Grandpa Nasrettin. The next door neighbour began to laugh.

A week later Grandpa went to borrow the pan again and the neighbour was very happy to lend it to him. 

After a month, the neighbour knocked on Grandpa's door to ask for her saucepan back.

"I'm sorry. It's dead," he told her.

"Grandpa, pans never die," she laughed.

"Well you believe that it gave birth, why don't you believe it died?"

The end

last updated: 25/08/06
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