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Why Children Should Read Folk Tales, Legends, and Myths

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Inside: Why Children Should Read Folk Tales, Legends, and Myths

Reading famous legends and myths to your children is so much more than sharing fun or interesting (or sometimes really weird and disturbing) stories together.

Sometimes they get tossed aside as archaic and unnecessary or are accused of containing problematic themes. That can happen if you take them literally. (Also, see our previous thoughts on fairy tales.)

Why Children Should Read Folk Tales, Legends, and Myths

Benefits of Reading Myths & Tales

We believe legends and myths are more than strange, seemingly outdated stories. They’re full of rich insights into humanity and history. We could talk for days about the value of them!

Simply reading the tale is enjoyable. Reading and exploring the richness of connected topics helps anchor new knowledge to something memorable.

Here are benefits of reading folk tales, myths and legends to children:

1. They contain timeless storytelling elements that are important to understanding literature.

2. They provide insight into various cultures (similarities and differences, importance of certain values, history of a people, the effect of geography on stories, etc).

3. They can help cultivate appreciation of your own heritage as well as other cultures.

4. Reading a variety offers insight into the universal human experience.

5. They enrich a child’s imagination!

A Couple of Must-reads:

St. George and the Dragon

Why Children Should Read Folk Tales, Legends, and Myths

A great example is Saint George and the Dragon. It’s one of the related reading suggestions included in our The Door in the Wall – Book Guide.

However, we didn’t include the story in the learning guide simply because it’s a beautiful picture book that corresponds to the medieval theme. (Although it’s perfect for that.) We actually believe it’s essential literature.

In addition to the benefits listed above, it’s exciting for kids to recognize modern-day references to famous legends they’ve read. For example, do you know how many paintings there are of the legend of St. George? So. Many. That’s a study all on its own.

Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed

We couldn’t discuss folk tales and not mention one of our favorites, Johnny Appleseed. We love this legend because Johnny Appleseed was a real person! While some of the stories about him are delightfully over-the-top, it’s worth digging a little deeper to understand the real John Chapman and how he became what we know as the legendary Johnny Appleseed.

To do this easily, use our Johnny Appleseed learning guide and take a day with your kids to learn about Johnny Appleseed. In one day, you’ll learn about American history, geography, nature, and science. And, if there’s time, make an apple pie together.

Like we said, there are so many reasons Why Children Should Read Folk Tales, Legends, and Myths.

Favorite Folk Tales, Legends, and Myths

You know we’d never send you off without a robust list of reading ideas. Here are some of our favorite picture book versions and story collections in the category of mythology, folk tales, and more.

Note: Be sure to bookmark this page. We’re always adding more great books!

Myths & Tales
Saint George and the Dragon
D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths
The Blue Fairy Book
Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland
A Year Full of Stories: 52 Classic Stories From All Around the World
A World Full of Animal Stories: 50 Favorite Animal Folk Tales, Myths, and Legends
Andy and the Lion
Between Earth & Sky: Legends of Native American Sacred Places
Call It Courage
D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress
Fifty Famous Stories Retold
Joan of Arc
Johnny Appleseed
Johnny Appleseed
Just So Stories
Stone Soup
King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table
Strega Nona
The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale
Chanticleer and the Fox
The Children’s Book of Virtues
Fin M’Coul: The Giant of Knockmany Hill
The Story of Saint Patrick
Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf
American Tall Tales
Hans Christian Andersen’s Complete Fairy Tales
The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm
Aesop’s Fables
Grimm’s Fairy Tales Audio Book
Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales Audio Book
The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus
The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship
Henny Penny – A Classic Fairy Tale
The Little Red Hen
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
The Three Little Pigs
The Gingerbread Boy
The Polar Bear Son: An Inuit Tale
The Boy Who Held Back the Sea
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears
The Biggest House in the World
The Jungle Books
Wee Gillis
The Unhappy Stonecutter: A Japanese Folk Tale
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Legend Of The Poinsettia
The Night of Las Posadas
John Henry
The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush
The Irish Cinderlad
Fiona’s Luck
Tales from Old Ireland
Tim O’Toole and the Wee Folk
Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato
The O’Brien Book of Irish Fairy Tales and Legends
Irish Fairy Tales
St. Patrick’s Day
The Tale of Three Trees
How the Stars Fell into the Sky
Little Red Riding Hood
The Kitchen Knight: A Tale of King Arthur
It Could Always Be Worse
The Emperor’s New Clothes
The Rough-Face Girl
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters
The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales
The People Could Fly: The Picture Book
The Paper Crane
The Magic Fish
Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom
The First Strawberries
The Earth under Sky Bear’s Feet
The Legend of the Bluebonnet
The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses
The Storyteller
Golden Tales: Myths and Legends from Latin America
Nordic Tales: Folktales from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark
Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories
Best-Loved Folktales of the World
Once There Was a Story: Tales from Around the World, Perfect for Sharing
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Monkey and the Crocodile: A Jataka Tale from India
Celtic Tales: Fairy Tales and Stories of Enchantment from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales
The Canterbury Tales
Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China
The Children’s Homer
The Children of Odin
The Golden Fleece
Children of the Dragon: Selected Tales from Vietnam
The Book of the Dun Cow

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