30 Fabulous Folktales To Add to Your Bookshelf

Age-old tales for all.

Folktale feature

Rich stories steeped in tradition and meaning, folktales for kids are a great choice for your classroom, no matter the grade. Filled with valuable lessons and explanations for the ways of the world, folktales across cultures and genres offer stories of morality and teach us important lessons. Folktales often include fables or animal stories, using a bit of imagination and magic to share observations about friendship, kindness, and good character. Often these stories have been passed down for generations, and different versions of the same tale come to life with beautiful illustrations in picture book form. With simple storylines and distinct, interesting characters, folktales also boost comprehension and listening skills. With so many different types to choose from, we’ve created a list of our favorites to get you started.

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1. Stone Soup by Jon J. Muth

Book cover of Stone Soup by Jon J Muth, as an example of folktales for kids

The familiar tale comes alive in this unique interpretation by Jon J. Muth. Beautiful illustrations and attention to detail make this version set in China one of our favorite folktales for kids.

Buy it: Stone Soup at Amazon

2. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale by Verna Aardema

Book cover of Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears by Verna Aardema

Following an appealing repetitive pattern, this Caldecott Medal winner is a must-read. Filled with rhyming text and gorgeous illustrations, the story uses cause and effect to teach us the value of honesty and how our actions affect others.

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Buy it: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears at Amazon

3. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe

Book cover of Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe, as an example of folktales for kids

Artfully told and illustrated, this award-winning book tells the story of a man named Mufaro who brings his two very different daughters before the king to choose a wife. The tale offers some of the traditional lessons found in folktales for kids while sharing the beauty of African culture.

Buy it: Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters at Amazon

4. A Taste of Honey: Kamala Outsmarts the Seven Thieves by Rebecca Sheir

Book cover of A Taste of Honey: Kamala Outsmarts the Seven Thieves, as an example of folktales for kids

Brilliant storytelling and humor make the adaptation of a traditional Indian folktale a great choice for your classroom. From the creators of the popular Circle Round podcast, this wonderful tale is both inspiring and entertaining.

Buy it: A Touch of Honey at Amazon

5. The Mitten by Jan Brett

Book cover of The Mitten by Jan Brett, as an example of folktales for kids

Jan Brett is a master illustrator with a knack for rich storytelling, and her adaptation of a Ukrainian folktale demonstrates her signature style. Find out what happens when a young boy named Nicki drops his mitten and all the forest animals crawl in to get warm.

Buy it: The Mitten at Amazon

6. Tops & Bottoms adapted by Janet Stevens

Book cover of Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens, as an example of folktales for kids

A delightfully funny trickster tale about a bear and a hare, this enjoyable story is a hit with younger audiences.

Buy it: Tops & Bottoms at Amazon

7. The Courage of the Little Hummingbird: A Tale Told Around the World by Leah Henderson

Book cover of The Courage of the Little Hummingbird: A Tale Told Around the World by Leah Henderson

A beautiful tale from Ecuador, this is one of our favorite folktales for kids for teaching morality in a meaningful way. Through one hummingbird’s bravery and heroism, we see that no action is too small to make a big impact. Sharing the value of community and working together to solve problems, this book is an important one.

Buy it: The Courage of the Little Hummingbird at Amazon

8. Why the Sky Is Far Away: A Nigerian Folktale retold by Mary-Joan Gerson

Book cover of Why The Sky Is Far Away by Mary-Joan Gerson

This wonderful story about taking care of our earth will resonate and inspire readers to be mindful of our valuable and most precious resources.

Buy it: Why the Sky Is Far Away at Amazon

9. Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale retold by Carmen Agra Deedy

Book cover of Martina the Beautiful Cockroach by Carmen Agra Deedy, as an example of folktales for kids

This intriguing story tells the tale of a cockroach ready to get married who heeds Abuela’s advice of spilling coffee on her suitors’ shoes to find a good match. Humorous and fun, this folktale is a joy to read and share.

Buy it: Martina the Beautiful Cockroach at Amazon

10. The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone

Book cover of The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone, as an example of folktales for kids

As one of the most enduring folktales for kids, this story still holds great appeal. Detailed illustrations enhance the classic tale, making this version a standout.

Buy it: The Little Red Hen at Amazon

11. Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato: An Irish Folktale by Tomie dePaola

Book cover of Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato by Tomie DePaola, as an example of folktales for kids

In the signature style of author Tomie dePaola, this silly tale about a very lazy man is an entertaining read-aloud. A great pick for St. Patrick’s Day or any time of year, make sure to add this one to your library of folktales for kids in the classroom.

Buy it: Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato at Amazon

12. La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya

Book cover of La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya

This charming rendition of the traditional fairy tale shines with award-winning illustrations and Spanish words included throughout the rhyming text.

Buy it: La Princesa and the Pea at Amazon

13. Treasury of Magical Tales From Around the World compiled by Donna Jo Napoli

Book cover of Treasury of Magical Tales From Around the World by Donna Jo Napoli

This collection of exceptional folktales for kids is a must-read for elementary ages. With factual information included in each, students can learn about many different parts of the world while getting swept away in these magical tales.

Buy it: Treasury of Magical Tales From Around the World at Amazon

14. Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories compiled by Florence Sakade

Book cover of Japanese Children's Favorite Stories by Florence Sakade

Another exceptional collection of stories, these stories from Japanese folklore are filled with lessons that teach students about kindness and honesty, while captivating them with enjoyable and accessible tales.

Buy it: Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories at Amazon

15. The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Book cover of The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, as an example of folktales for kids

When a tiny mouse comes to the rescue of a menacing lion, we see the value of kindness and friendship. In this Caldecott-winning, wordless account of the traditional tale, a picture truly is worth a thousand words.

Buy it: The Lion & the Mouse at Amazon

16. Saint George and the Dragon retold by Margaret Hodges

Book cover of Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges

A knight and a dragon battle in this epic fairy tale. The story is both enchanting and eye-catching, and beautiful illustrations earned the book a Caldecott.

Buy it: Saint George and the Dragon at Amazon

17. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Book cover of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, as an example of folktales for kids

With flying dragons and a quest to find fortune, this beautiful story combines the very best of fantasy and folklore. A young girl named Minli journeys to make life-changing discoveries for her family, and who and what she discovers along the way make all the difference.

Buy it: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon at Amazon

18. Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock retold by Eric A. Kimmel

Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock by Eric A. Kimmel

This silly tale of a trickster spider named Anansi is a lot of fun. Part of a five-book series featuring similar antics and based on West African culture, these stories are amusing to share.

Buy it: Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock at Amazon

19. The Girl With a Brave Heart: A Tale From Tehran by Rita Jahanforuz and Vali Mintzi

The Girl with a Brave Heart by Rita Jahanforuz

This heartfelt story is about listening to the unspoken ways people express their thoughts and feelings. Set in Tehran and filled with lessons about kindness and compassion, this folktale is a gem.

Buy it: The Girl With a Brave Heart at Amazon

20. Raven: A Trickster Tale From the Pacific Northwest by Gerald McDermott

Book cover of Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest by Gerald McDermott

Another trickster tale about a clever raven who tries to give people the gift of light. This Caldecott Honor book showcases the beauty of the oral tradition.

Buy it: Raven: A Trickster Tale From the Pacific Northwest at Amazon

21. The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin

Book cover of The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin, as an example of folktales for kids

Dramatic illustrations match the compelling text in this Cinderella retelling from Algonquin folklore.

Buy it: The Rough-Face Girl at Amazon

22. Adelita by Tomie dePaola

Book cover of Adelina by Tomie dePaola

Another Cinderella tale, this appealing Mexican version has a unique twist. Interwoven Spanish words along with illustrations weaving in cultural elements greatly enhance the story.

Buy it: Adelita at Amazon

23. One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi

Book cover of One Grain of RIce by Demi

By the author of The Empty Pot, this alluring tale incorporates both morality and math into one great story that takes place long ago in India. Through the power of doubling, we learn how one grain of rice becomes more than a billion, plenty for one village and beyond.

Buy it: One Grain of Rice at Amazon

24. The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales told by Virginia Hamilton

Book cover of The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales by Virginia Hamilton, as an example of folktales for kids

This beautiful anthology includes 24 folktales recounting slavery in the United States while also preserving important African cultural traditions through these retellings. Filled with trickster tales, animal stories, and meaningful information about this time period, the book is an important resource for learning about American history.

Buy it: The People Could Fly at Amazon

25. A Story, a Story retold by Gail E. Haley

Book cover of A Story, a Story by Gail E. Haley

Another Caldecott-wining folktale to make our list, this one tells the story of Anase, the spider man, who seeks stories from the sky god, Nyame, to give to the world.

Buy it: A Story, a Story at Amazon

26. How the Stars Came To Be by Poonam Mistry

Book cover of How the Stars Came to Be by Poonam Mistry

Gorgeous illustrations accompany the captivating tale of how stars made it into the sky. An enchanting choice!

Buy it: How the Stars Came To Be at Amazon

27. The Talking Eggs by Robert D. San Souci

Book cover of The Talking Eggs by Robert D. San Souci, as an example of folktales for kids

This spin-off Cinderella story about two very different sisters is an adaptation of a Creole folktale that takes place in the American South. Some elements may frighten younger students, making it better suited for an older elementary audience.

Buy it: The Talking Eggs at Amazon

28. Town Mouse, Country Mouse by Jan Brett

Book cover of Town Mouse, Country Mouse by Jan Brett

Our second Jan Brett pick, this lovely tale shares the familiar story of mice swapping homes with an adventurous and fun twist. Distinctive and eye-catching illustrations enhance this imaginative adaptation.

Buy it: Town Mouse, Country Mouse at Amazon

29. Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales

Book Cover of Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales

This lively tale highlights Mexican tradition while offering a unique format for counting to 10 in both English and Spanish. With endearing characters Se√Īor Calavera and Grandma Beetle, this one is a delight to read aloud.

Buy it: Just a Minute at Amazon

30. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

Book cover of Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, as an example of folktales for kids

Yes, this all-time favorite is a folktale! The beloved story about a peddler who must contend with pesky monkeys to sell his caps is a treasure.

Buy it: Caps for Sale at Amazon

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Plus, check out our list of fairy tales for more inspiration.

Check out this list of captivating folktales for kids to enrich your classroom library and engage students.