Myths, Tales, and Religions of the World

[link toReligions]

Myths and Tales

Adams, Edward B., ed., Two Brothers and Their Magic Gourds (5-8). Korean tale of forgiveness and good triumphing over selfishness.

Aesop, The Fables of Aesop (all ages). Classic fables in many editions.

Andersen, Hans Christian, Fairy Tales (4-up). Many editions, both collections and picture books.

Arabian Nights (5-up). Several good collections of these classic tales are available, as well as picture books of individual tales.

Aruego, Jose and Ariane, A Crocodile's Tale (4-8). Philippine folktale of a boy who learns gratitude from a monkey when caught by a crocodile.

Bailey, John, Kenneth McLeish, and David Spearman, comp., Gods and Men: Myths and Legends from the World's Religions (10-up). Thirty brief tales on the themes of creation, good and evil, and heroes and prophets.

Baker, Betty, At the Center of the World (7-12). Papago and Pima myths of creation of the earth and its inhabitants.

Beach, Milo Cleveland, The Adventures of Rama (7-up). Brief retelling of the Ramayana with illustrations from a 16th-century Mughal manuscript.

Bryson, Bernarda, Gilgamesh (8-up). Fine retelling of the Babylonian epic.

Bruchac, James and Joseph, The Girl Who Helped Thunder and Other Native American Folktales (4-up). Legends and short tales from many tribes in all parts of the United States, retold by two Native American storytellers; intriguing illustrations.

Burton, W. F. P., The Magic Drum (6-up). Well-told selection of Central African tales.

Byatt, A. S., Ragnarok (13-up). Effective retelling of Norse myths that has a great deal to say to readers today where the author preserves the integrity of the stories: they are not museum pieces held at arm's length, nor are they modernized into a novel; the use of the author's child-self as a context for telling the stories works very well.

Cole, Joanna, comp., Best-Loved Folktales of the World (all ages). Two hundred fairy and folk tales from all over the globe, indexed by category (age, reading aloud, plot themes, etc.) and arranged by region.

Colum, Padraic, The Children of Odin: The Book of Northern Myths (7-up), The Children's Homer (7-up), and The Golden Fleece, and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles (7-up). Excellent versions of these traditions, illustrated with beautiful pen and ink drawings.

D'Aulaire, Ingri & Edgar, D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths (5-12) and D'Aulaire's Norse Gods and Giants (5-12). Lavishly illustrated retellings of the Greek and Norse myths are a good introduction for younger children.

----- East of the Sun and West of the Moon (5-10). Twenty-one traditional Norwegian folktales, well and simply told with humor.

De Armond, Dale, The Seal Oil Lamp (5-up). Eskimo tale that brings out respect for nature and animals.

de Gerez, Toni, Louhi, Witch of North Farm (3-7). Picture book of this tale from the Finnish Kalevala.

Dharma Publishing, Jataka Tales series (3-up). Individual tales with full-page color illustrations celebrate the power of compassion and wisdom.

Edmonds, I. G., Trickster Tales (5-up). Stories from many countries featuring trickster figures.

Gaer, Joseph, The Fables of India (8-up). Large collection of well-told tales taken from The Panchatantra, The Hitopadesa, and The Jatakas.

----- The Adventures of Rama (11-up). Retelling of the Ramayana.

Gifford, Douglas, Warriors, Gods and Spirits from Central and South American Mythology (10-up). Selection of tales from Amerindian cultures, with color illustrations; Schocken World Mythology series.

Goble, Paul, Buffalo Woman (4-up). Plains Indian tale shows the transforming power of love and the kinship of humans and animals.

Green, Roger Lancelyn, Tales of Ancient Egypt (9-up). Good retelling of many Egyptian myths and tales; informative prologue.

Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, Fairy Tales (all ages). Many editions of collections and individual tales.

Harris, Geraldine, Gods and Pharaohs from Egyptian Mythology (8-up). Egyptian myths and tales of the pharaohs, with color illustrations; Schocken World Mythology series.

Hillerman, Tony, The Boy Who Made Dragonfly (8-up). Zuni myth about a drought which ruined the corn crop, and a heroic boy who helped to rescue his people.

Hodges, Elizabeth Jamison, Serendipity Tales (7-12). A happy adaptation of Oriental stories based on a 16th-century Venetian work.

Hodges, Margaret, The Golden Deer (5-9). Picture book of one of the Jataka tales, telling how Buddha as a stag caused a king to respect all life.

Hoffman, E. T. A., Tales of Hoffman (8-up). Best known for "Nutcracker and the King of Mice" on which Tchaikovsky based his ballet, and Offenbach's opera, "The Tales of Hoffman." Imaginative and haunting stories with beautiful imagery and insights on human nature.

Hoffman, Mary, The Barefoot Book of Brother and Sister Tales (3-9). Seven charmingly retold stories from around the world that feature brothers and sisters and the central characters; fine illustrations.  

Homer, The Odyssey, trans. Robert Fitzgerald (11-up). Blank verse translation for adults that is clear and colorful enough to excite the interest of children.

Humphries, Rolfe, trans., The Aeneid of Virgil (14-up). A verse translation that captures the color and tone of this Roman epic.

Hutchinson, Veronica, Chimney Corner Stories (3-7). Many familiar stories in a version particularly suited for reading aloud, including "The Pancake," "Cinderella," and "Billygoats Gruff"; author of several other collections.

Hutton, Warwick, Noah and the Great Flood (3-7). Effectively illustrated retelling of the Bible story.

Jaffrey, Madhur, Seasons of Splendor (8-up). Hindu tales associated with festivals of the year, introduced with reminiscences from the author's childhood in India.

James, Grace, Green Willow and Other Japanese Fairy Tales (5-up). Fine selection of 38 tales, with color plates.

Khan, Noor Inayat, Twenty Jataka Tales (4-up). An excellent selection of these symbolic adventures of nonviolence and compassion.

Lang, Andrew, The Adventures of Odysseus (8-up). Well-told prose version of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey as one story.

----- The Blue Fairy Book (4-up). 37 tales including favorites from the Arabian Nights, Perrault, and many others; one of the series of "Color" Fairy Books.

Lanier, Sidney, ed., The Boy's King Arthur (8-12). Traditional retelling of the Arthurian legend adapted from Mallory's Morte d'Arthur; some archaic language.

Lattimore, Deborah Nourse, Why There Is No Arguing in Heaven (6-10). Picture book retelling the Mayan creation story.

Lester, Julius, The Tales of Uncle Remus (5-12). Contemporary retelling of the Brer Rabbit stories that keeps the spirit of the original, well illustrated; first of three collections.

Lum, Peter, The Stars in Our Heaven: Myths and Fables (12-up). Stories from world mythologies, including Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, Chinese, Indian, and Norse, concerning many constellations and stars.

Manitonquat (Medicine Story), The Children of the Morning Light (7-up). Well-told Wampanoag tales from Massachusetts, covering creation of earth, man, seasons, and wanderings of the tribe.

Manton, Jo, and Robert Gittings, The Flying Horses: Tales from China (9-up). Spans the earliest folktales to a 20th-century incident.

Martignacco, Carole, The Everything Seed: A Story of Beginnings (4-up). Striking yet simple retelling of how the primordial seed "unfolded to become everything in the Universe."

Martin, Fran, Raven-Who-Sets-Things-Right (8-up). Good retelling of 10 Northwest-coast Indian tales, beginning with the creation; informative introduction.

Mayer, Marianna, Beauty and the Beast (6-10). Well-told, beautifully illustrated version of this classic tale.

Mayer, Mercer, East of the Sun and West of the Moon (3-10). Picture book skillfully combines elements from "The Frog Prince" and "East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon"; exquisitely illustrated.

Mayo, Gretchen Will, Star Tales (4-10). North American Indian legends about the stars and constellations.

McDermott, Gerald, Anansi the Spider (3-8) and The Magic Tree (4-8). Two dramatically illustrated, effectively told African tales.

----- Arrow to the Sun (3-up). Striking illustrations bring to life this insightful telling of a Pueblo Indian initiation tale. Also Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest (4-8).

----- The Voyage of Osiris (7-up). The trials and triumph of Osiris and Isis, with the author's distinctive illustrations.

Morris, Kenneth, The Fates of the Princes of Dyfed (12-up). Retelling of the Welsh Mabinogion; continued in the Book of the Three Dragons.

----- The Chalchiuhite Dragon (12-up). A mysterious green dragon-stone signals the return of the legendary Mayan god-king Quetzalcoatl.

Pavlat, Leo, Jewish Folktales (7-up). Handsome anthology of stories based on the history, religion, and customs of the Jewish people.

Perrault, Charles, Fairy Tales (all ages). Available in collections and as individual picture books.

Richardson, Frederick, Great Children's Stories: Classic Volland Edition (3-7). Traditional European tales, such as "The Little Red Hen," "The Old Woman and Her Pig," and "The Straw Ox"; notable illustrations.

San Souci, Robert D., The Faithful Friend (5-10). West Indian folktale of two friends, black and white, who save each other through their loyalty, bravery, and goodness.

----- The Legend of Scarface (4-10). Blackfoot Indian tale of a hero, unattractive in appearance, who triumphs through kindness, courage, and determination; notable illustrations.

Schwab, Gustav, Gods and Heroes: Myths and Epics of Ancient Greece (10-up). Translation of German standard work; more complete than most collections, told with simplicity and restraint.

Schwaller de Lubicz, Isha, Her Bak (14-up). Story of a boy's spiritual coming of age; vol. 1, subtitled The Living Face of Ancient Egypt, gives real insight into the life and culture of Ancient Egypt, while vol. 2, subtitled Egyptian Initiate, illuminates the religion of the inner sanctuary.

Seeger, Elizabeth, The Five Sons of King Pandu: The Story of the Mahabharata (12-up) and The Ramayana (12-up). Excellent retellings of these great Hindu epics. Though lengthy, both are necessarily abridgments, but faithful in spirit and content.

Serraillier, Ian, Beowulf the Warrior (10-up). Fine verse version of the Anglo-Saxon epic.

Shah, Idries, World Tales (5-up). Shows "the extraordinary coincidence of stories in all times, in all places"; informative notes and color illustrations.

Singer, Isaac Bashevis, Naftali the Storyteller and His Horse, Sus (10-up). Well-written, amusing stories with a Jewish setting give the reader a wonderful sense of this religious tradition through a mixture of wit and wisdom.

Sleator, William, The Angry Moon (4-8). Effective picture book of the Tlingit Indian tale of bravery and magic.

Steptoe, John, Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale (7-12). Cinderella tale of two village daughters -- one loving, the other selfish -- who journey to the city seeking to marry the King; picture book.

----- The Story of Jumping Mouse (6-up). Plains Indian tale of a mouse's sacrifice to reach the far-off land; beautifully illustrated.

Storm, Hyemeyohsts, Seven Arrows (13-up). The inner meaning of Plains Indian symbology seen against the horrific disruptions of native life and spirit caused by contact with Europeans; illustrated with historic photos and color shield paintings.

Sutcliff, Rosemary, Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of The Iliad and The Wanderings of Odysseus: The Story of The Odyssey (7-up). Superior retellings of Homer's epics, brought to life by Alan Lee's dramatic, beautiful illustrations on almost every page.

Timpanelli, Gioi, Tales from the Roof of the World (5-10). Four Tibetan folktales offer a balance of humor, drama, and magic.

Traven, B., The Creation of the Sun and the Moon (7-up). Well-told version of ancient Mexican creation stories.

Troughton, Joanna, Sir Gawain and the Loathly Damsel (3-8). Quest of King Arthur, and Sir Gawain's self-sacrifice and kindness; beautifully illustrated picture book.

Westwood, Jennifer, Gilgamesh and Other Babylonian Tales (12-up). Includes the stories of Marduk and Tiamat, the Flood, Adapa and the South Wind, and Inanna in the Underworld; informative introduction and notes.

Wilde, Oscar, The Selfish Giant (4-up). Fable depicting the power of love and unselfishness.

Wolkstein, Diane, The Red Lion (6-12). Ancient Persian tale about facing what is before us; beautifully illustrated in the Persian miniature style.

Young, Ed, Lon Po Po (5-9). A Red-Riding Hood story from China, with expressive illustrations. Also Seven Blind Mice (2-6).

Zeeman, Ludmila, Gilgamesh the King (5-12) Picture book retelling the first portion of the myth of Gilgamesh; concluded in two further picture books.

Religions of the World


Franklin Watts, publisher, My Heritage series (4-8). Simple introduction to various religions through the eyes of a child growing up in each faith; new titles added occasionally.

Silver Burdett, publisher, World Religions series (9-up). The basic beliefs, history, customs, celebrations, sects, and daily life in six world religions; illustrated with color photos and drawings.

Franklin Watts (London)/ Smart Apple Media (North Mankato, Minn.), publisher, offers two series, A Year of Festivals and Sacred Texts, written by Anita Ganeri:

Peter Bedrick Books (New York) publishes another series by Anita Ganeri:

In a series on "what you will see inside" a house of worship (6-up), photos and reflective descriptions explain what happens in the house of worship and why, the objects used, the worshippers and priests, and the spiritual intent of the believers.  It includes:

Individual Books

Bach, Marcus, Had You Been Born in Another Faith (12-up). Splendid introduction to nine world faiths, encouraging the reader to "move into the spiritual habitude of another's mind and heart" and find that "the spirit inherent in religions is found to be one spirit when we truly put ourselves in the other person's place."

Bryan, Ashley, All Things Bright and Beautiful (2-6). Colorful, exuberant cut-paper illustrations of the familiar hymn bring out both the joy of diversity and the oneness of all life.

Buscaglia, Leo, Seven Stories of Christmas Love (12-up). Stories from the author's life that illustrate the importance of love and caring.

De Paola, Tomie, The Parables of Jesus (3-12). Picture book featuring 17 New Testament parables.

Drucker, Malka, Portraits of Jewish-American Heroes (10-up). Ranging from Revolutionary War times to 2002, these twenty brief  biographies emphasize the achievements of Jews in a wide variety of fields.

Edmonds, I. G., Hinduism (11-up) and Islam (11-up). Thorough introductions to the beliefs and history of these religions; author of many thought-provoking nonfiction books for young people.

Fellows, Lawrence, A Gentle War: The Story of The Salvation Army (11-16). The history, goals, and work of this Christian group.

Fitch, Florence Mary, Their Search for God (12-up). Sympathetic coverage of Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, and Buddhism.

Freedman, Russell, Confucius: The Golden Rule (7-up). Confucius' life and ideas explained simply, and his influence on more equable government and opportunity for all people.

Gibran, Kahlil, The Prophet (13-up). Poetically expressed spiritual philosophy of life.

Glubok, Shirley, The Art of India (6-12). Introduces Indian art simply, in relation to the Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist religions; author of many introductory art books.

Heiligman, Deborah, Celebrate Diwali (4-11). Photos and text explain, in a straightforward and enthusiastic way, how Indians celebrate this joyous holiday; part of National Geographic “Holidays Around the World” series.

Khan, Hena, Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story (5-8). Yasmeen and her family celebrate Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting that ends with the feast of Eid; set in America.

Kurelek, William, A Northern Nativity: Christmas Dreams of a Prairie Boy (6-up). Author-artist depicts the Nativity in various Canadian settings during the Depression, asking "If it happened there, why not here? If it happened then, why not now?" Thought-provoking, filled with compassion, and universal in its spiritual message.

Landaw, Jonathan, The Story of Buddha (5-12). Simply told biography communicates the atmosphere of Buddha's teachings and work.

Meredith, Susan, The Usborne Book of World Religions (11-up). Comprehensive information about all the major world religions, as well as some less well-known faiths, can serve as a quick reference for children and adults; illustrated.

Meredith, Susan, and Clare Hickman, The Usborne Encyclopedia of World Religions, Internet-linked (8-up).  Balanced presentation of the world's major religions, several minor religions, and some religions from the past, such as ancient Egypt, Greece, and ancient America; illustrations and links to internet sites with more information and videos (at, type in "world religions";  most odd page numbers in the book from 11 to 123 feature links). 

Moses, Jeffrey, Oneness: Great Principles Shared by All Religions (12-up). Brief quotations from many world religions show agreement on 14 basic principles, such as the Golden Rule and God is within.

Rice, Edward, The Five Great Religions (12-up). Contemporary look at Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, stressing the mystical.

Rossel, Seymour, Judaism (10-up). Informative introduction to the history, beliefs, holidays, and branches of Judaism.

Seeger, Elizabeth, Eastern Religions (12-up). Thoughtful presentation of the history and philosophy of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shinto.

Serage, Nancy, The Prince Who Gave up a Throne (5-9). Introductory biography of the Buddha, concentrating on his youth.

Singh, Mala, The Story of Guru Nanak (5-11). Life of the founder of Sikhism, stressing brotherhood, kindness, and good deeds.

Snelling, John, Buddhist Festivals (8-14). Discussion of Buddhist festivals throughout the year.

Tutu, Desmond and Douglas Carlton Abrams, God’s Dream (2-10). Simple, direct, and effective expression of the message of love, brotherhood, and caring.

Ward, Hiley H., My Friends' Beliefs (10-up). This "young reader's guide to world religions" covers Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim traditions, while over half the book examines various Christian denominations.

Yolen, Jane, Simple Gifts: The Story of the Shakers (12-up). The origins, history, practices, and beliefs of this Christian sect, sympathetically but objectively told.

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