Black Folktales, 1969
From the Foreword:
Folktales are stories that give people a way of communicating with each other about each other -- their fears, their hopes, their dreams, their fantasies, giving their explanations of why the world is the way it is. It is in stories like these that a child learns who his parents are and who he will become....
There are many kinds of stories. Stories that partly happened and are partly imagined (but what you imagine can be as real and true as what happens in front of your eyes). There are stories that make you laugh; stories that make you think; stories that make you feel good inside; stories that teach you how to get along in the world; stories that take your mind off your troubles.
Each person who tells a story molds the story to his tongue and to his mouth, and each listener molds the story to his ear. Thus, the same story, told over and over, is never quite the same. But when stories are written in books, people think that this is the only way the story should be and that it cannot be changed. And that is the way a story as a living, growing changing thing dies. Stories can be changed and should be, as the story teller feels. The stories don't live otherwise....
These stories are told here not as they were told a hundred years ago, but as I tell them now. And I tell them now only because they have meaning now.