List of Folk Tales for Kids

Lori Soard
Book story with child and tree

Folktales have often been passed around from one generation to the other until no one remembers who first made up the tale. They tend to focus on broad themes and there may be multiple versions of the tale.

Free to Read

Babe the Blue Ox

Tales of Paul Bunyan are legendary and definitely fall into the category of folklore and tall tales. Babe the Blue Ox is a Minnesota tall tale and spins a story about Paul Bunyan finding a tiny baby ox and taking him home. The ox grows to gigantic proportions. Paul Bunyan is a folklore hero who was a giant lumberjack. There are statues of him in Minnesota. Whether he was real or imaginary has been debated for generations. The story is a good one for children to read because it depicts a time in America when people worked the land to survive.

Why the Fish Laughed

Why the Fish Laughed isn't a folk tale you'll find in most collections for children, but is an interesting story that children will enjoy. It focuses on a laughing fish and all the trouble he causes. The story has adventure, intrigue and yet is whimsical enough for even young children to enjoy. The author is not known, but the story originates from India.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast is a folk tale about true love and the dangers of being selfish and shallow. The classic tale states that a prince is turned into an ugly beast when he refuses to help an enchantress because her appearance is haggard. Only by getting someone to truly love him can he break the curse. However, who could love an ugly and scary beast? The tale goes on to show that it's the heart attitude and not the outward appearance that matters.

The Princess Mouse

The Princess Mouse is a tale from Finland. The story is about a family that has two sons. They must find their wives by cutting down a tree. When the tree falls, it is supposed to point to the wife the son will marry. The younger brother finds a mouse and his love breaks the spell and turns her back into a beautiful princess. The story teaches children that love should be about who the person is on the inside and not how they look.

Interactive

Davy Crockett

Legends of Davy Crockett include claims like he "killed a bear when he was only three" and he always wore a raccoon hat. This Davy Crockett tale offers several opportunities for young readers to interact with the story.

  • The child can click on the illustrations of animals on the page and move the animals around.
  • There are additional facts that pop up when clicked on.

Davy Crockett was a real person who lived from 1786 to 1836, although the tales of his adventures have likely been exaggerated over the years. It's good for ages five and up.

King Midas

King Midas is a folk tale about a man who is greedy. The tale originated in Greek mythology and is the reason for the saying "Midas' touch." The man in this folk tale turns everything he touches into gold. Unfortunately, that also includes those he loves the most. The story is a good way to teach children about the dangers of greed.

There were actually several kings named Midas during ancient times. However, no one is certain which Midas the story might refer to. Children can simply click a play button to play a read-along video version of the story, making it appropriate for ages three and up.

Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk is a traditional folk tale about a giant and a goose that lays golden eggs. It is a story about curiosity and greed and how it can all go wrong. Below is the a video of Granny and George the Dragon as they retell the classic tale. It's appropriate for all ages.

The Emporer's New Clothes

The Emporer's New Clothes is read aloud by Harry Shearer. Your child can read along with the narrator as the words appear on the screen. Each illustration comes to life as the video slides through the pages. In addition, there is a lesson plan for teachers, a short quiz and crossword puzzle. The original tale comes from Hans Christian Anderson.

Collections

Folk Tales Every Child Should Know

Folk Tales Every Child Should Know is a compilation of folk tales compiled by editor Hamilton Wright Mabie. This book is good for children because it collects folk tales from all over the world. Your child will enjoy old favorites and lesser known tales such as Hans in Luck, The Origin of Rubies and The Good Children. Rated highly from customers who note that it covers some great tales, the book is appropriate for ages six and up.

Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales

Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales was the winner of the Coretta Scott King Author Award. The book is a collection of 25 African-American folktales. Each tale has a strong female character at the center of it. Some of the stories include Catskinella, Annie Christmas and Little Girl and Bruh Rabby. The book includes one full-color, vivid illustration for each story in the collection. It's appropriate for ages four to eight.

The Old Woman and Her Pig

This book by Anne Rockwell is a collection of ten, well-loved folk tales. Noted for its lovely watercolor illustrations, the book was an American Library Association Notable book in 1980. Some of the stories include favorites like, The Tortoise and the Hare, The Fox and the Crow, and The Bremen Town Musicians. The book is appropriate for al ages.

Folk Tales Make Great Reading

Folk tales talk about the wider world around a child. While the stories might be brand new or as old as time, the underlying themes focus on core components of personality and characters, such as kindness, friendship, love, greed and good versus evil. Folk tales are an important part of history and tradition and every child should read at least a few.

List of Folk Tales for Kids