Fables, by definition, often feature personified animals, so animal fables abound in the genre. Many of the world's most beloved and renowned stories are animal fables.
Aesop was perhaps the most prolific of fable creators. A recorded written collection of Aesop's fables includes over 665 stories. Of course many of his fables are animal fables and feature animals that talk, walk and think just like humans.
The purpose of personifying an animal in a fable is to draw the parallel to the lesson being taught more clearly. After all, the point of a fable is to teach a lesson. With that said, if you are looking for fables that feature animals, you will sure find them in the pages of any Aesop anthology. Here are a few to try:
- The Classic Treasury of Aesop's Fables
- The McElderberry Book of Aesop's Fables
- Aesop's Fables: Complete Original Translation from the Greek
Popular Animal Fables
Animal fables from all different countries, and from many different authors-both new and old-abound.
Arnold Lobel is most well known for his "Frog and Toad" series. While these are not considered true fables, he also wrote his own set of fables entitled simply, "Fables." Arnold Lobel is known well for his gorgeous illustrations as well as his lovable and quirky characters.
While Tang is not known for writing fables specifically, he has written a charming book called "Math Fables" which introduces young learners to math concepts in an engaging way using animal fables.
Fables of La Fontaine
La Fontaine was a French fabulist from the late 17th century. He was well known for his delightful animal characters but more importantly for his prowess in as a wordsmith in the French language. Many of his fables are very well known and you can read them in an anthology dedicated exclusively to the fables of La Fontaine.
While Aesop and similar authors by and large dominate the children's fable shelves, there is also a slew of fables featuring animals, from foreign countries:
Guided Reading for Animal Fables
One of the great things about using animal fables to teach reading is that fables, by their very nature, are short. This makes it easier for students to read an entire passage. Regardless of which animal fable you are reading, a few guided reading activities would work with any fable featuring animals:
- What character qualities do the animals in the story have? (Example: A fox might be cunning; a rabbit might act hastily, etc.)
- Describe the personification of the animals in the story. Beyond character traits, do the animals do anything else that humans would do?
- For advanced study, consider if there is any relationship between how the featured animal is in the story and how they are in real life. (For example, the tortoise in real life is actually slow. In the fable the tortoise and the hare, that slowness is portrayed as wise.)
Whether you are using fables simply to read aloud, to teach a character lesson, or to teach students how to analyze literature-few lessons will be as memorable with such interesting characters.