from Fairy Tales, Folklore, Fables, Nursery Rhymes,
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(excerpts from posts)
(If you want to retell any of the stories listed below, be sure to obtain permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain)

1) Stories for telling to children, 5-8 Year Olds

When Turtle Grew Feathers: A Tale from the Choctaw Nation by Tim Tingle (2007 - Ages 4-8)
Book Description
Maybe you think you know the story of the big race between Rabbit and Turtle. Think again! In this story from the Choctaw People, Tim Tingle shows that it was not being slow and steady that won Turtle the big race, it was those feathers!!!

Bun Bun's Birthday (Little Critter Storybooks) by Merce Mayer (1996 - Ages 4-8)
The Cat and the Mouse Who Shared a House by Ruth Hurlimann
Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter (Laurel-Leaf Books) by Adeline Yen Mah
Cinderella: A Pop-Up Fairy Tale by Matthew Reinhart

The Fat Cat: A Danish Folktale by Jack Kent
The Five Chinese Brothers (Paperstar)by Claire Huchet Bishop
The Funny Little Woman (Picture Puffins) by Arlene Mosel
The Frog Prince (Hello Reader! Level 3, Grades 1 & 2)
by Edith H. Tarcov
The Huckabuck family and how they raised popcorn in Nebraska and quit and came back: From the Rootabaga stories by Carl Sandburg
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Little Red Hen
Millions of Cats
The Mitten
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

A Story, a Story (Haley)
Teeny-Tiny or Teeny-Tiny Woman
Tikki Tikki Tembo
Tom Tit Tot or Rumplestiltskin
The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears
Whey the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky
The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids

Also: Paul Bunyan (after 7 years); tall-tale heroes; Indian myths

2) Wiley and the Hairy Man and the Tailey-Po story are sure-fire hits. Versions of both can be found in Virginia Hamilton's collection, The People Could Fly : American Black Folktales.

Delightful stories for Stories for Primary School Students by © Daryll Bellingham, Australian Storyteller. 1997.
Palm Sunday Peace Stories

On Sunday 28th March, 1999 I was invited to tell peace stories at the Palm Sunday Rally for Peace in Brisbane. We also improvised and created our own Peace Story and illustrated it on the spot. It's the first of, what I hope will become, a long list of peace stories.

The Blood-Filled Cave
Students from 6 to 13 years old at the Coorparoo State School After School Care had fun creating this mind bending and messy story with me.
The Woozals At South Banks IMAX
Four students from year 4C at Ironside State School created this story after one of my storytelling story/creation workshops. The class decided this was the one, out of all their stories, that they wanted published so, here it is! Watch out for the Woozals!
Spice Up Your Life at Ironbark Gully
  This story is explosive. It was created with year 3.3 students during a project at Ferny Hills State School
The Striped Marsh Frog and the Queen of the Pond

  Here's a story about two of our beautiful local Australian animals - the Striped Marsh Frog and the Bearded Dragon. I had the pleasure of creating it with the Year 2 students at Westside Christian College at Goodna.
Another Boring Excursion?

 Another story from Westside Christian College at Goodna - this time from the year 3c's. There's a snake and a Brahminy Kite in this one.
The Mud Monster from Mountain Creek
  It's an exciting story created at Maroochydore Library on the 21st August, 1997 by 5 and 9yr olds. It's got some great illustrations but it's a bit large. So if you want a text only version here it is - The Mud Monster Text.
The Fisherman Who Needed a Bath
The Quest for the Tomatoe Sauce

  Stories created by a mixed audience of preschool and primary school students at the Noosa Shire Library on the 20th August, 1997. Both stories are centred around the wonderful Noosa River and the Cooloola National Park.
Old Joe Gets a Bit Sharkey
 An Australian tall story created amongst the fishermen, mangroves and pelicans of Brighton on the shores of Moreton Bay. If you don't want to wait for some photo's of Brighton to download, here's Old Joe text only
The Space Watch

 Sick of Game Boy and Nintendo? How about a real Star Wars game?
A Safe White Crossing

 Dragons, wild bulls, warriors, Kings and Queens and a large shining diamond. This is a fantasy created in folk tale style to include a specific message.

4) I usually tell to adults, and though I'm familiar with lots of stories from the above categories, as I am putting the programs together, some stories seem too long and others seem too young for that age group. So I am asking for some help in determining appropriate tales for that age. The class has studied South America (esp. Brazil), Mexico, Japan, England and Egypt. I am finding that there is a plethora of available pourquoi tales from Native American and African cultures, a few from Australian Aboriginal, Asian, Central and South American cultures, some from Scandinavian/Icelandic cultures and very few from Europe, England, Ireland, or Scotland, and the stories I've found from Egypt would make an adult audience blush. Most of these cultures do have variations of trickster tales. I only have 1/2 hour for each program so it has been tough to make choices. I would love to do a program of variants of Native American pourquoi tales, or a thematic, comparative program of sun/moon pourquoi stories from various cultures, but I am also trying to present a wide variety of 'subjects' as well as cultures. So, I decided the program would go something like this:
First we'll create a little something ourselves with the making rain activity.
The stories I've tentatively chosen are:
Turtle Flies South or How Turtle Cracked His Shell (Native American - Dakota Sioux)
The Magic Mortar or Why the Sea is Salt (Japan; there are also Norwegian/Icelandic versions)
Little Crab & His Magic Eyes (Brazil) (a variant based on Margaret Read MacDonald's version)
Leopard's Drum or How Leopard Got Its Spots and How Turtle Got Her Shell (Africa)
Why Butterflies Are Silent or How Butterflies Came To Be (Native American Papago)
Little Crab and Leopard's Drum can, and probably will be participatory. There are a couple of very short stories (Skunk & Moon from Bolivia, and The Peacock and the Puhuy from El Salvador) which I can add or switch into the progam deoending on the time factor. I really like Why Sun and Moon Live in the Sky (Nigeria) and Crow Brings
(Inuit), Emu and Eagle's Great Quarrel (Australian Aboriginal) and
Why is There Day & Night (China)
but there's only so much time ....

One story I have told to 7-8 year olds that has gone over very well is The Legend of Obi Gui Gui, a Yoruba Tale, also known as Why Coconuts Fall From the Trees. The kids love it and I always bring in a real coconut as most have never seen one. They like to shake it to hear the milk inside. You can find it in More Best Loved Stories Told at the National Storytelling Festival, the 20th anniversary edition by NAPPS. Another story I have used with success with that age group is not quite the traditional type of pourquoi tale but is along the same lines, The Baker's Dozen, a Dutch tale. An adaptation can be found at GOS #7 ~ The Baker's Dozen (as told by Aaron Sheppard). It tells how the number 13 came to be known as the baker's dozen.

Comment: I found this reference to a Brazilian collection in my files: How Beetles Got Their Beautiful Coats: A Fable of Brazil. As found in Folk tales of Latin America, (Folk tales around the world series) (Folk tales around the world series). Adapted by Shirlee P. Newman As far, as Little Crab, which I think is The Crab with the Magic Eyes, found, I think, in Margaret Read MacDonald's Twenty Tellable Tales: Audience Participation Folktales for the Beginning Storyteller.

Comment: Jaguar is a South American cat & Livia showed me how Onca is viewed in Brazil. He is every bit the bully that you will find him in Margaret Read MacDonald's Crab with the Magic Eyes. I have used Little Crab with 6 and 7 years olds - but I play up the role of the Buzzard who gets to eat DEAD MEAT in his agreement with Wild Cat. So I do think it can be used with this age child.

Comment: Another one that might work is found in More Ready-To-Tell Tales from Around the World by Holt and Mooney. The story is called Deer and Jaguar Share a House and explains why deer and jaguar never live together anymore.

Here are a few suggestions:
Brazil (True Books) by Ann Heinrichs (Paperback)
How Night Came to Be: A Story from Brazil (First-Start Legends) by Janet Palazzo-Craig, Felipe Davalos (Illustrator) (Paperback)
In How & Why Stories: World Tales Kids Can Read & Tell (World Storytelling from August House (Paperback)) by Hamilton and Weiss. There is a Brazilian story about how beetles got their brilliant color coats. There is also a version in Heather Forest's book, Wisdom Tales from Around the World (World Storytelling), Paca and Beetle, page 131.

Comment: I've observed the same thing. I wonder if it's because the pourquoi tales (I call them How Things Happened stories in workshops I've done for 10 year olds) are an older layer of stories, and in Europe got buried by more recent layers of fairy tales before they were preserved. One good example is Mother Holle (Classic Folktales Series), which is a German pourquoi tale about weather (there are also other themes in it). It's in the Grimm Brothers. If you use literary tales, Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories (Chrysalis Children's Classics Series) are his conscious attempt to fill that gap in English folklore. Some of them are very nice and usable for the age you're working with. (Be aware of and think ahead of time about how you want to handle his condescending attitude toward women and non-English peoples.) They're also in the public domain.

In my experience most children of that age can put their attention into a story for that long, as long as they aren't distracted. But in a school setting I often have to deal with distractions within any 13-minute stretch. Often including the few children who don't plug into the story and want to become the distraction.

Comment: I don't have this at my fingertips, but maybe someone else can clean up any references I'm making. A couple of years ago I wrote a puppet play based on (I believe) a collection of stories by Pleasant DeSpain called Eleven Turtle Tales (American Storytelling). In it, I think, there is a Brazilian folktale that is perfect for you. It's called (I think) The Dancing Turtle. In a nut shell - Father brings home a dancing turtle to make turtle stew. The next day, after he leaves, the turtle tricks the 2 children into letting him out of box. They dance and dance. When the kids rest, the turtle takes off. When father comes home, the children try to trick him by painting a rock the color of the turtle. Of course, it doesn't work. Even to this day they can hear that turtle singing far away, but they never catch him. I added a snappy repetitive verse and hand motions. It is funky enough and you can have some real fun with it.

[Book description: Turtle carries the world on her back: this story has been told by different cultures around the world for generations. Like Mother Nature, Turtle is unhurried, wise, and enduring. She walks on land, swims in water, and breathes the air and so embodies three of the four elements of creation. We have much to learn from Turtle.]

Comment: I tell the Magic Eyes, if that is the crab story you are talking about. I make it interactive when after the first time the eyes look in the sea or ocean I ask the kids what the eyes saw this time, and they yell out all sorts of things. I had one yell out Mermaid last week.That was a first. I have the eyes pop off racoon and they have to tell me again what raccoon saw. Here in Florida it is great. Yes, I think it's fine for 2nd grade. I use peeper eyes to bob along in the air as the eyes that popped off the crab. I have a folkmanis crab puppet. OK, you guys out there who gag at the use of puppets, I'm telling you the kids of any age and teachers seem to love what visuals I have chosen. And I make a big deal of the Oonkaloonka fish that eats raccoons (or fox's) eyes.Then I put on a big black crow puppet who flies down and asks racoon what's wrong.why are you crying. Crow goes and gets cumquat eyes (it's still Florida here) and then racoon goes looking for that scheming crab. He was just being a truthful crab.

Comment: Perhaps some people may feel they are overdone, but I like the Kipling stories for that age, especially the The Elephant's Child, retold, of course in a shorter (antsy second grader length) version. My second graders loved it, especially when the crocodile pulls the elephant's nosey nose into a great, long trunk. And, if they get to help the elephant pull back, so much the better. On second thought, no story is overdone if the audience you are telling to has never heard it!

5) For an extensive list of Chinese stories for children 8 years old and under, go to:

6) Query: I received a call from a Montesorri (sp?) school last night. They want to end their year with storytelling, such a delightful concept! Anyway, the grade levels span from PreK - 8. Yes, they will be split appropriately, thank the Gods and Goddesses.
I have plenty of stories for PreK-4 but I am have not had a lot of experience with the 5, 6, 7, 8. (ages 11 -14). I would appreciate any sure-fire suggestions. Your suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I won't have much time to prepare, they are asking to host the event the second week in June so I will have to move fast. Many thanks.
Karen C.
Response: That is primarily my audience. I hate to plug but my book "Stories heard around the lunchroom" at
It has 19 tellible stories directed at that age group.
Jim Flanagan
Response: Beth Horner says the perfect story for middle school boys is God's Porridge - I think it's sure to go over well!
Wendy G.
Response: I have great success at the Grade level you indicate.
Among their favourites are:
How the horse got to stay on the farm.
Ali and the Camels
How the Camel Got Its Hump
The Three Wishes
Nanabush's Eyeballs (or any Nanabush story for that matter)
Stealing the Smell
The Bundle of Sticks
The Leopard's Spots
How Raven Brought Light to the World
King Solomon and the Bee
How the Milky Way was Formed

Just go to my website. Here's the list of what's (been) in the sock box.
Also, feel free to take anything that's in my "library."
Dale P.

7) You can't go wrong by starting with Margaret Read MacDonald's books. I tell regularly in a first grade class and a kindergarten. Among their very favorites, which they ask for again and again, are Roly-Poly Rice Ball from Twenty Tellable Tales: Audience Participation Folktales for the Beginning Storyteller and El Conejito from Shake-It-Up Tales! Both are great participatory stories.

Another one they like is Marsh Hawk from her Storyteller's Start-Up Book.

I'll bet you'll have great fun with the younger kids once you start. I started telling to middle-schoolers and adults and have developed a repertoire for the early grades since retiring.
Judy S. 2/25/06

Created 2005; last update 6/30/09


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