Folk Tales 

Fairy tale books for children are plentiful and tell the folk tales that have been told for centuries. Every culture has its own folktales or fairy tales, stories or legends that are part of the oral tradition of the culture. In the Western culture, The Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, and Aesop's Fables are all considered to be folk tales peculiar to that culture. Short fairy tale stories usually have a moral attached that help children learn life lessons.

Japanese Folk Tales - Two Frogs

The Japanese culture has its own folk tales and fairy tales as does the African culture. Japanese folk tales for children tell a short folktale story and gives a lesson with it, as is common to the genre. One such tale involves two frogs who want to get out and see the world, one from Osaka and one from Kyoto - one from the seashore and one from the big city. In a bid to see their destinations to determine whether the trip was worth the effort, they agree to help each other see where they are headed. They stand on their hind legs, each looking back to where they had come from and deduce that the trip would not be worth the effort because what they saw looked just like what they'd left. What they didn't know was that they were looking at their old homes. They determine to return home and never do get to see the world. They assume that the two cities were exactly alike, when they are totally different. Assuming something does not make it true.

An Africa Tale - The Lion's Whisker

An African folk tale for children is called The Lion's Whisker and is the story of a woman whose husband doesn't seem to love her any more. She goes to the old wise man in her village and he says he will make a magic potion for her to give to her husband to make him love her - but he needs the whisker of a living lion to concoct the mixture. Frightened, she devises a plan whereby she feeds a wild lion raw meat every day, from a distance, and gradually she gets closer and closer to the lion. Over a period of weeks, the lion becomes accustomed to her presence and she is able to pluck a hair from the lion's beard. She returns to the old man who says that she didn't need the potion because she had the qualities to draw her husband back without it. Courage and patience are what is needed to wait for her husband to start loving her again. She applies the same principle to her husband as she did to the lion and her husband begins to love her again. Often, what works in one situation is the seed of the answer to other problems.

By seeing other cultures through their folk tales, a child can get a glimpse of the lifestyle, morals and principles that the people of those cultures enjoy. Children's folklore books and folk tales enrich the reader and make a wonderful possession for a budding library.

Folklore Is Not The Same As Folk Tales

Folklore is different from folk tales and fairy tales. New York folklorist Ben Botkin wrote in 1938, "Every group bound together or by common interests and purposes, whether educated or uneducated, rural or urban, possesses a body of traditions which may be called its folklore. Into these traditions enter many elements, individual, popular, and even "literary," but all are absorbed and assimilated through repetition and variation into a pattern which has value and continuity for the group as a whole."

The traditional forms of knowledge and wisdom are learned one-to-one or in small groups, or through performance and by example. Whatever method of communication, folklore is learned and kept alive in the context of the group. The shared experiences give shape and meaning to the collective. We see folklore very much alive today in the First Nations people and the Indigenous of South America and Mexico.

Children Can Learn From Books

Children can learn much about the way groups live by learning about their folklore through children's folklore books. Groups are generally open and welcome those from other life cultures into their world. Folklore stories for kids involve heroes of the specific culture or group, the spiritual aspect of their beliefs and how they live their lives.

It really is a small world, and children can learn and travel to many different places and cultures by reading books and learning the folklore, folk tales and fairy tales of those cultures.

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