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World Folktales & Fables Week


March 17-23 is World Folktales and Fables Week, and we’re celebrating by exploring different folktales available in our children’s collection. For thousands of years, communities across the globe have passed down tales that reflect their unique history and lore. As readers, these folktales allow us to access a world beyond our own and connect to other cultures. Over time, retellings have emerged too, providing familiar tales reframed through different cultural lenses. Read on to find recommended folktales and retellings from our collection to bring home and share with your family!

  • Ancient Night by David Bowles (also available on Hoopla)
    • Ancient Night provides a twist on two Mesoamerican folktales. In this retelling, Rabbit uses aguamiel, a glowing nectar, to fill and brighten the moon. One evening, the sky goes dark, and Rabbit discovers Opossum drinking from the jug of aguamiel. Ashamed of his actions, Opossum must find a way to bring light to the sky again.
  • The Elephant’s Garden: A Traditional Indian Folktale by Jane Ray
    • Jasmine grows the best garden around, but her fruits have started to disappear. One day, she waits to see who is eating her fruit and finds an elephant who promises to bring her to his beautiful garden.
  • The Empty Pot by Demi
    • The emperor is getting ready to retire and wants to find his replacement. To find a candidate, he gives a seed to every child in the country to see who can grow the best flower in one year’s time. Ping, who is known for growing beautiful flowers, struggles to make his seed grow. The time has come for everyone to present their flowers to the emperor. What will Ping do?
  • The Girl Who Spun Gold by Virginia Hamilton
    • When the king overhears a peasant girl is spinning gold thread to make clothes for him, he decides to make her queen. He then requests she make three rooms full of gold items. Knowing she cannot fulfill this, the queen seeks the help of a little creature. The creature agrees to assist her, but under one condition: she must tell him what his name is before the end of three days, otherwise, he will make her a tiny creature too!
  • Grandma and the Great Gourd: a Bengali Folk Tale by Chitra Divakaruni
    • In this tale, Grandma lives alone with her dogs at the edge of the forest. Her dogs keep her safe at night when she hears noises coming from the forest, but when she receives a letter from her daughter asking her to visit, Grandma must brave the forest alone.
  • Hansel and Gretel by Rachel Isadora
    • Reset in an African forest, Hansel and Gretel must find their way back to their father after meeting a wicked witch.
  • Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young
    • While their mother is away, three girls are instructed to lock the doors and not let anyone into their home. A wolf pretending to be their grandmother convinces the girls to open the door. When they realize the visitor is not their grandmother, they create a plan to save themselves from the wolf.
  • Mee-An and the Magic Serpent: A Story From Mali by Baba Wagué Diakité
    • Mee-An thinks she is the most beautiful person in the whole village and only wants to marry another beautiful person. She rejects all her suitors until the most handsome man comes along. They marry, but she soon finds out that being beautiful isn’t everything.
  • The Orphan and the Polar Bear by Sakiasi Qaunaq (also available on Hoopla)
    • A young orphan boy wants to hunt with the men in his village, but every time he tries to follow them, they leave him behind. A polar bear takes the orphan to his village and teaches him how to hunt.
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