Jennifer’s Story Bookshelf

Readers have been asking for good resources for the tales, legends, myths, fables, etc. that I share with my daughter, the Lovely K.  This page includes books that tell these stories in picture book form (for sharing with your younger child) as well as longer collections for you to read alone for later retelling, or for older kids to read on their own.  If your own memory of some of the great classics is a little dusty, these books can help you blow off the cobwebs.  Some of them you may be able to find at your public library; some may be out of print but can be the object of a quest for you (!); others are in print and available for purchase, either through this site using our link or at a local bookstore.  We’ll update this page regularly, so check often, and if you have a great book suggestion let us know. 

Please bear in mind that research indicates simply sharing stories only goes so far; please engage your children in conversation about these stories.  You don’t have to start in on the “what do you think it means?” questions the moment you reach the end, but in the days following, explore some of the meanings through conversation.  Asking your child to tell the story back to you the next day can be very revealing.


  • S = share with young ones and enjoy the pictures together
  • R= read on your own and retell in your own words 
  • P = pass along to your independent reader

Armstrong, Jennifer; The American Story, illustrated by Roger Roth, S, R, P

Bilkan, A. Fuat, editor; Tales from Rumi: Mathnawi Selections for Young Readers  R, P

Bruchac, Joseph; Between Earth and Sky: Legends of Native American Sacred Places, illustrated by Thomas Locker  S, R, P
Bruchac, Joseph; The First Strawberries:  A Cherokee Story, illustrated by Anna Vojtech S, R

Colum, Padraic; The Children of Odin: The Book of Northern Myths, R, P
Colum, Padraic; The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles, R, P

d’Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar d’Aulaire; D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, R

Demi, reteller and illustrator, Buddha Stories, S, R
Demi, reteller and illustrator; The Empty Pot, S, R

Erdoes, Richard and Alfonso Ortiz, editors; American Indian Myths and Legends, R
Erdoes, Richard and Alfonso Ortiz, editors: American Indian Trickster Tales, R

Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Complete Fairy Tales  R,

Hastings, Selina, reteller; The Children’s Illustrated Bible, illustrated by Eric Thomas  (Any children’s Bible will do, of course!) S, R, P

Hamilton, Virginia, reteller; The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon S, R, P

Kimmel, Eric A., reteller;  Anansi and the Talking Melon, illustrated by Janet Stevens, S, R
Kimme, Eric A., reteller; Anansi and the Magic Stick, illustrated by Janet Stevens, S, R

Lang, Andrew; The Blue Fairy Book, also Red, Green, Purple, etc.   R
Mandela, Nelson, editor; Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales, S, R, P

Martin, Rafe; The Brave Little Parrot, illustrated by Susan Gaber S, R
Martin, Rafe; The Rough-Face Girl, illustrated by David Shannon, S, R, P
McCaughrean, Geraldine, reteller; One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, R, P

McCaughrean, Geraldine, reteller; The Odyssey / Puffin Classics  R, P
McCaughrean, Geraldine, reteller; The Orchard Book of Greek Myths, illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark, S, R, P

Milbourne, Anna, Heather Amery and Gillian Doherty, retellers; The Usborne Book of Myths and Legends, illustrated by Linda Edwards S, R

Philip, Neil, editor, He Liyi translator, The Spring of Butterflies and other folktales of China’s minority peoples, R

Raven, Nicky, adapter,  Beowulf: A Tale of Blood, Heat, and Ashes, illustrated by John Howe P

Rumford, James, reteller,  Beowulf: A Hero’s Tale Retold S, P

San Souci, Robert D.; Fa Mulan: The Story of a Woman Warrior, illustrated by Jean and Mou-sien Tseng, S, R, P
San Souci, Robert D.; Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow, illustrated by Earl B. Lewis, S, R

Singh, Rina, reteller; The Foolish Men of Agra and Other Tales of Mogul India, illustrated by Farida Zaman, S, R

Smith, David; This Child, Every Child, R, P

Soifer, Margaret and Irwin Shapiro, retellers; Tenggren’s Golden Tales from the Arabian Nights: the Most Famous Stories from the Great Classic A Thousand and One Nights, illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren,  S, R, P

So-un, Kim; Korean Children’s Favorite Stories, illustrated by Jeong Kyoung-Sim, R, P

Sutcliff, Rosemary; Black Ships Before Troy, R, P

Ward, Helen, reteller and illustrator; Unwitting Wisdom: An Anthology of Aesop’s Fables, S, R

Wisniewski, David; Sundiata: The Lion King of Mali, S, R, P

Yolen, Jane, editor; Favorite Folktales from Around the World  R
Yolen, Jane, collector and reteller; Mightier Than the Sword: World Folktales for Strong Boys, illustrated by Raul Colon R, P
Yolen, Jane, collector and reteller; Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls, illustrated by Susan Guevara R, P


  • S = share with young ones and enjoy the pictures together 
  • R= read on your own and retell in your own words
  • P = pass along to your independent reader

Stories retold on this blog:

  • The Lion’s Whisker – a story of emotional courage, with a good dose of physical courage as well
  • Two Parables from Rumi – which highlight intellectual courage, with a bit of several other types
  • David &  Goliath – which has something to tell us about moral courage
  • Fenrir: Big, Bad Wolf – of moral courage and it’s frequent companion, physical courage 
  • The Flyaway Lake – a tale of emotional and spiritual courage from Estonia 
  • Damon & Pythias, BFFs – emotional courage and friendship from Ancient Greece 
  • A Tall Tell Tale – the emotional courage of William Tell 
  • Another Lion Story – the emotional and physical courage of Androcles and the Lion 
  • A Mango Tree and a Baby – intellectual courage demonstrated by the Judgment of Solomon and a very similar story from India 
  • The Gates of Heaven and Hell – the courage to admit intellectual errors, a Buddhist parable
  • The Nemean Lion – emotional courage and locus of control illustrated by one of the labors of Herakles 
  • The Water Seller’s Donkey and The Sword of Damocles – “separated at birth” twin stories (almost identical in theme) from different traditions,  about the way jealousy blinds us to reality
  • Chicken Little – a parable for our times if ever there was one!
  • The Empty Pot – this story from China has something to tell us about social courage and willingness to admit failure 
  • St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio – one of the miracle stories of this beloved saint shows us something about spiritual courage
  • Frogs’ Legs – two short, amusing tales about giving up – or not
  • The Legend of the Banyan Deer – this Jataka tale shows us the social and emotional courage that leadership requires
  • The Brave Little Parrot – another Jataka tale, this one has something to tell us about emotional courage
  • Birbal Reveals the Thief – in which thinking outside the box, a hallmark of intellectual courage, sets a trap for a thief
  • Belling the Cat – one of Aesop’s fables,  where everyone knows what the right thing to do is, but nobody wants to do it…
  • Nothing is Bad?  Two similar stories from different traditions illustrate how the courage required to suspend quick judgments
  • The Good Samaritan – one of the classic New Testament parables
  • Birbal Shortens the Road – another short, witty Birbal story about the courage we need to develop patience
  • The Monkey’s Heart – a story with regional variants in many parts of the world, about a clevel monkey with the presence of mind to save himself from the jaws of death
  • The Three Billy Goats Gruff – a children’s favorite from Norway, with physical courage tossing the monster off the bridge
  • The Brave Little Dutch Boy – a story that isn’t authentic in one way, but has much to say in another
  • Four Dragons, a legend from China showing the courage of the strong to look out for the weak
  • Abraham the Idol Smsasher, a story from the tradition of Biblical midrash about speaking truth to power 
  • Jean Labadie’s Big Black Dog is a story from Quebec about getting deeper and deeper into the hole a lie creates.  Would you have had the courage to tell the truth?
  • The Lion, The Fox and The Bird, comes from the Gypsy (Roma) tradition.  If you are neither very strong nor very clever, do you stand a chance?
  • The Perseverance of a Spider, the story of how Robert the Bruce learned persistence from watching a spider is a favorite legend from Scotland. 
  • St. Ailbe and the Wolf, a legend from Ireland about faithfulness and compassion
  • more stories coming almost every week – they’ll be added as they are published on the blog, usually on Tuesdays

Book reviews on this blog:

Other books of interest mentioned in this blog, including scholarly books about traditional stories