My mom loved children’s books that shared folktales. She read them to us at home and to her students at school. When I was putting together the Reading Everything Under the Sun reading program and punch card, I knew that folktales need to be a part of it. Folktales share a lesson to learn and stories from the past. I hope you will enjoy the books I have selected. If I have left off a favorite of yours in this genre, please leave me a comment below or share it with me on my Facebook page.
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale– Shares the tale of a dishonest mosquito who loves to whisper stories in animals ears. Tired of his lies an iguana places sticks in he puts sticks in his ears. When the iguana doesn’t hear a friend greeting him, he get worried and hides underground. The rest of the book share the reactions each animal has to seeing the previously shared animal’s reaction. Ultimately the mosquito is found out and the book explains that today mosquitoes are still trying to get people to listen to them.
Stone Soup -There are a number of versions of this folktales, but I love the version written by Marcia Brown. In this folktale two soldiers head into a town hungry and in search of a free meal. The townspeople see them coming and know that they will want someone to feed them so they hide their food. The soldiers draw one towns person after another into the process of creating a soup made only of stones and water. They share that the soup would be so much tastier with a little of this and a little of that. Truly the soup gets better as each item is placed in the pot. Everyone gets to enjoy a great meal!
Tikki Tikki Tembo– This folktale shares why it is so important not to have long name. A small boy named Tikki Tikki Tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari-ruchi-pip beri pembo and his brother Chang get in trouble while playing near a well. Both end up in the well at one time or another during a day. It takes so long to say Tikki Tikki Tembo’s name that he isn’t helped out of the well as quickly and he gets sick. Now the story shares you will understand why short names are important.
The Mitten– When mitten is found in the forest on a cold day, one animal after another tries to squeeze into it to keep warm. The mitten reaches capacity when a mouse tries to squeeze in behind a bear and makes him sneeze. The sneeze blows all the animals out of the mitten and to its original owner. My son just loves this book.
The Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale– My sister gave me this book one year for Christmas. It is a beautiful folktale about three trees. Each tree dreams of what it will become when it grows tall. Each of three trees becomes part of the story of Christ. One is made into a manger where is lies his head. One becomes a boat that he travel in. The final tree becomes are cross where he will die before rising again.
Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti– The is the story of a spider father and his six spider sons. As the family travels on a journey, they come across challenges. Each of the sons uses his gifts to save his spider father. When the father comes across a glowing ball, he tries to decide who will get it as a gift. He consults with the god of all things Nyame and it is decided to put the glowing ball in the sky. I love the teamwork the sons display and how the talents of each are needed help their dad.
Strega Nona: An Old Tale Retold– Strega Nona shares how a simple thing like trying to fill your tummy when you are hungry can get out hand when you don’t know how to stop a magic pasta pot. Big Anthony learns that the hard way. He can start Strega Nona’s pasta pot, but he has no idea of how to stop it. Horrible things happen when pasta flows everywhere. This is fun book!
The Red Hen– This is a folktale we are all probably familiar with. The red hen invites her friends to help her do the chores necessary to make bread. They all in turn say that they won’t help her. If they had only known how delicious the reward of completing the bread making process would have been! They had helped. I love the illustrations in this version of the book.
Fat Cat: A Danish Folktale– Despite having roommate that is a fabulous cook, the Fat Cat eats everything in sight. He eats soldiers, a wash lady,and even his roommate a mouse. After the mouse cuts a way out for all the people and creature he has eaten, the cat learns a lesson. Maybe he needs to treat others as friends and not snacks he learns.
Stories to Solve: Folktales from Around the World– This book is one a read to my student’s every year as a read allowed. It is filled with folktales from around the word. Each of the folktales is shared in only a few pages. Each tale is written so children will have to solve or share the lesson the tale sets out for them. It really gets kids thinking! I love books that do that.
Three Wishes– When you are granted three wishes, you have to be careful. You might end up making a wish that you didn’t want to or mean to make. This book shares the need to think things through and be very clear about what you are expecting.
Tony’s Bread – This wonderful tale shares how a girl and her father both get what they dream of. A new type of bread, a rich noble man and three very helpful aunts help both dreams come true. The father becomes a well-known baker and is brought to see that there really is a man good enough to marry his daughter.
Fin M’coul: The Giant of Knockmany Hill– When the meanest and mightiest giant comes looking for Fin M’Coul, he and his wife have to come up with ways to convince him not to fight Fin. What they come up with is having Fin pretend to be their child! A very special and strong child who can do things like eat frying pans. Their plan fill the giant with fear and causes him to loose a few teeth.
Tops & Bottoms – This is a story from the trickster branch of folktales. A hare convinces a lazy bear to let him do all the work in his garden. In return the hare will get the tops of the crops or the bottoms. What he doesn’t realize is that each time he picks where he wants his crops to come from the hare plants crops that are fruitful the opposite way. The bear picks tops. The hare plants carrots and other root plants. The bear picks bottoms. The hare plants corn and other above the ground vegetables. Kids love that hare is so tricky.
LEGEND OF THE INDIAN PAINTBRUSH– This is wonderful tale of a Native American who uses his talent to portraits of warriors. While he loves his talent, he finds what he is paintings dull and dark. In a dream he is told where to find special brushes that will help him bring color to his world. He paints a beautiful masterpiece with them, but forgets to pick them up. The next day he finds that they have become colorful flowers.
You can go to Introducing a Fun Way To Encourage Summer Reading to get a copy of this reading punch card. I bet your children will enjoy exploring books of all different genres!