This poem by Langston Hughes, one of America's most prolific poets, suggests the appeal of folklore to the young. Aunt Sue's stories inspire the response that every teacher of literature aspires to elicit from his students. I would like to suggest that the most natural thing in the world for the teacher is to capitalize on this appeal of folklore to help develop an interest in and an appreciation for recorded literature. Folklore can do much to help the student bridge the gap between his own world and what seems to many to be the alien world of Shakespeare. Our task will be much simpler when the student realizes that although Aunt Sue indeed "never got her stories out of any book at all," the books often got their stories from Aunt Sue. And these stories may be just as real; they may stem just as much from the heart; and they may have the same kind of immediacy and appeal as Aunt Sue's stories.
Copyright © 1980 Collegiate Publishing. This chapter first appeared in Afro-American Perspectives in the Humanities.
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Dance, Daryl Cumber. ""Aunt Sue's Stories": The Use of Folklore in the Teaching of Literature." In Afro-American Perspectives in the Humanities, edited by Chester M. Hedgepeth, 11-17. San Diego: Collegiate Publishing, 1980.