Stories, Folktales, Folklore, Fairy Tales, Myths, Legends,
Fables, Nursery Rhymes, Bible, Classics, General Information


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1) Why the Fish Laughed and Other Tales by Kevin Crossley-Holland. (2002 - Ages 9-12)
This collection is a celebration of diversity. There are tales from Asia and India, Central and South America, North America and the Pacific. Through marvellous stories of emperors, princesses, dragons, fishes and birds, we see the fabulous variety of customs and beliefs in our world. * This collection forms a pair with The Nightingale that Shrieked * The stories in the two collections were originally published together in The Young Oxford Book of Folk Tales.

2) Riddling Tales from Around the World compiled and edited by Marjorie Dundas, University Press of Mississippi. (2002)
85 tales that show how the riddle motif pervades storytelling cultures worldwide. In almost every land riddling tales are a staple genre of folk storytellers. This collection selects representative tales from Afghanistan, Arabia, China, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Mongolia, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, Turkestan, Turkey, the United States, Vietnam, and other locales. This is the only anthology of folk tales focused on the element of riddle, puzzle, or dilemma.

Review by Linda Spitzer
I love riddles and riddle tales. So do kids and grown-ups. Often one only finds one riddle story in an anthology. But this book is the largest anthology of folktales focused on riddles and puzzle and dilemma stories I have come across. The stories originate from countries all over the globe. I especially like the variety and version of the same story which enables a reader to create an entirely original version of his own using elements from each of the versions. Many of the folktales are short enough to read aloud to a group of students, scouts, campers, seniors or children needing entertainment. Great aid for babysitters. I find when I tell a riddle tale, the listeners eagerly await the solutions and how they are solved. I often stop the story to ask the audience what they are thinking, what are the answers, how is this going to be solved. You'll even find a chapter that break the mold--they don't fit into any one category but may be in several. Dundas has added commentary and sources for each of these tantalizing tales. Besides Clever Manka, Debate in Sign Language, Palace of Bird Beaks, The Silent Princess, and Cow Tail Switch you will find many others that you probably have never seen or heard before. That's what keeps us buying good books like this one. Librarians, media specialists, drama or speech teachers, scout groups, storytelling class instructors, and storytellers of all levels will find this book a treasure house of terrific tales to tell.

Clever Manka (Leveled Reader, 146B) by Sharon Fear and Mary King (illus). (2005)
Debate in Sign Language, from the LifeStories for Kids(TM) Series by Donna Washington and Laura Brightwood LCSW (illus). (2007 - Ages 5-10)
A smart but arrogant king challenges the common folk to a debate in sign language. The stakes are high, and a lowly chicken farmer rises to the challenge. Can he beat the king and save his fellow townsmen s homes? Nationally renowned storyteller Donna Washington has her audience roaring as she tells a story about assumptions and biases.
Debate in Sign Language is a storybook and DVD from the LifeStories for Kids(TM) Storybook Series. This award-winning series helps children understand complex character traits (like integrity, perseverance and courage) through the engaging and ancient art of storytelling. Debate in Sign Language is a distinguished iParenting Media Award Winner. Each book includes a guide for parents, grandparents or caregivers to help children explore and internalize the positive messages in the story.
The Cow-Tail Switch and Other West African Stories from Holt Rinehart & Winston. (1968)
Cow Tail Switch and Other West African Stories by Harold Courlander, George Herzog and Madye Lee Chastain (illus). (1987 - Ages 9-12)
The stories of West Africa are about men and animals, about kings, warriors, and hunters. They tell about clever people and stupid people, about good ones and bad ones, about how things and animals got to be how they are. Some stories in this book will make you think. Some will make you laugh. All of them are retold with folk spirit full of generosity and vitality.
• Listen to a sample of and download Richard Martin's version of The Silent Princess at

3) George Shannon has three separate short books each with 15 folktales. I have found they make fun little fillers and things for adults as well.

The volumes are
Stories to Solve
How can a thirsty crow drink from an almost-empty pitcher? How does arresting a stone help a judge find a boy's stolen money? This artfully illustrated book presents fourteen intriguing mysteries from world folklore. Each brain-teasing tale is followed by a simple explanation of the solution, while notes at the back of the book describe the origins of these classic mysteries.
More Stories to Solve: Fifteen Folktales from Around the World
How did a single firefly win a fight against onw hundred apes? How did the priest catch a thief with a rooster? How did a student outwit the king? How did a frog escape fron the picher of cream? These and eleven more tantalizing, brain-teasing mysteries are waiting in the pages of this book.
Still More Stories to Solve

The third book in the addictive puzzle-book series presents fourteen tales, each of which poses a riddle that needs a solution. And if you don't get the answer, just look at the end of the story. Clever, witty illustrations are an intriguing bonus.

4) A Bride for Khan Turali - a folktale from Azerbaijan

5) I just came across two riddles I can't wait to share with someone:
What sits on the bottom of the ocean and shakes? - A nervous wreck.
What did the Dalai Lama say to the hot-dog vendor? "Make me one with everything."
from The Bowl Is Already Broken: A Novel by Mary Kay Zuravleff, Bloomsbury. (2006)
Promise Whittaker, the diminutive but decisive acting director of the Museum of Asian Art, is pregnant again--and that's just the beginning of her problems. Her mentor, the previous director, has suddenly quit, and is on a dig in China's Taklamakan Desert. Her favorite curator has dropped a priceless porcelain bowl, once owned by Thomas Jefferson, down the museum's steps. Another colleague has been embezzling from the museum to pay for her fertility treatments. And her far too handsome ancillary director is clearly up to no good. Promise's offbeat efforts to hold everything together make her a character who, in the words of the Newark Star-Ledger, "you'll be falling in love with before you've turned the first page."

Which reminds me of 2 other riddles. This one is from the blues musician and one-man-band Jesse "Lone Cat" Fuller, who died about 1977. I was his Midwest "agent" in Detroit, trying to set up gigs for him when he travelled from California to the East Coast. He drove a Rambler station wagon and slept in it. When he got hungry, he took out his shotgun and killed a bird or rabbit and cooked it on a portable gas stove. He stayed with my wife and me for a week once. We had an apartment near Woodward and W. Grand Blvd in what was euphemistically called a "changing" neighbourhood. I was only vaguely aware of that. I think it had been all white and blacks were moving in. I hadn't realised that our apartment building was all white -- Jesse was black -- until we got some hassle about a black man staying with us. As I recall, Jesse was born about 1896. His family was so poor his mother gave him away when he was 6. When he was 10 he made himself a guitar and hit the road. He called me Richard, but he refused to call my wife anything but Mrs. Marsh. Great character with a life full of incident, most of it positive. Had a hot-dog stand then a shoe-shine stand outside the gates of a movie studio in Hollywood and met stars. Douglas Fairbanks got him a part in a film, but I don't know which one. Anyway, here is his riddle.

Big at the bottom, small at the top, thing in the middle goes flippity-flop. A churn.

I was a rock&roll DJ on a kilowatt station in Manistique, Michigan, in the 1960s. A listener rang up with this riddle, which cracked me up so much I couldn't say it on the mike at first.

Big and red and doesn't eat rocks. Red Rock eater on a diet.
Richard M. Dublin 10/27/05

6) Two bad riddles deserve two more.
What is the smallest room? A mushroom.
What room has no windows or doors, no ceilings or floors? A mushroom.
Wayfarer Tomm 10/27/05

7) What building has the most stories???
The Library.
Becky M.10/27/05

8) Why do gorillas have such big nostrils??
Because they have such big fingers.
Mary G. 10/27/05

9) One came out where two went in
But nobody died
Everyone was happy
But many people cried

The wedding ceremony.
Sebastian M. 10/27/05

10) One of my favorite Riddle stories for young children is "The Little Red House". Here are the bones:
Little boy is bored. His mom sends him out to find a little red house with no windows and doors and a star in the middle. The puzzled boy asks his friend. She doesn't know - tells him to ask Farmer Brown...he doesn't know. He tell her to ask wise old Granny - she doesn't know....but, she tells him to go ask the wind. Puzzled and exasperated the little boy sits under an apple tree and shouts out to the wind."Do YOU know where I can find a little red house with no windows and doors and a star in the middle". Of course, he hears nothing back. The wind starts blowing and an apple falls down from the tree. He looks at the bright red apple. (Teller brings out a bright red apple) Could THIS be it? Take a knife (you just happen to have) and cut the apple in half across it's middle - you'll find a star where the seeds are. The children listening are amazed as you show them the star. The boy runs home...."Mama - I found it...."Remember, don't cut the apple up and down...cut it through the middle (across) of the apple. Children think it's glorious "magic". A FUN story.
Beverly C. 10/28/05

Response: Here is an online version. The Little Red House With No Doors and No Windows and a Star Inside
You are right, it is a fun story to share.
Karen C. 10/28/05

Response: I found my version in Everything Book: For Teachers of Young Children by Valerie Indenbaum & Marcia Shapiro. (1983)
This book has wonderful ideas for your classroom or home. I have enjoyed exploring the hundreds of activities, listed by monthly themes. My children are always finding new things to keep them busy. I have salvaged many a rainy day by pulling this off the shelf. Whether you are looking for stories,arts and crafts, or finger plays, this book has it all. It truly is the "everything" book.
Beverly C. 10/28/05

Response: A version of The Little Red House with suggestions for telling is in the National Storytelling Press book by Annette Harrison, Easy-To-Tell Stories for Young Children. This riddle story, according to Annette Harrison, comes from European folklore, collected by Caroline Bailey in her 1929 book, Read-Aloud Stories. Bailey called it The Little Red House With No Doors. (see above)
Joan K. 10/28/05

11) Riddle stories online:
• A Story Riddle — http://www.unsolvedmysteries.com/usm456035.html
• Unsolved Mysteries — http://www.unsolvedmysteries.com/default.asp?action=cat20
• Funny Riddles & Puzzles — http://www.riddles-online.com/funny_riddles/Fishy-Tale-jokes-riddle.htm
• 3 Riddle Stories from Asia & Africa, Philippines, India and the Congo —

• Haitian Folktales, Proverbs and Riddles — http://www.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti/literature/folktale.htm
• John Mark Ministries — http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/14040.htm
• The Merchant, the Tiger & the 6 Judges (India) — http://www.storiestogrowby.com/stories/six_judges_body2.html
• The Three Riddles (China) — http://www.storiestogrowby.com/stories/3_riddles_china.html
• Outwitting the Imp (Congo) — http://hazel.forest.net/whootie/stories/outwitting_imp_congo.html
• Yahoo! Riddles — http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070604071500AAa4aT4
• Riddle Story Defined — http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/503050/riddle-story
• Riddle Stories — http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/ToMX05.htm
• Riddles — http://www.braillelibrary.org/ForOurPatrons/Bibliographies/Jokes_Riddles_Humorous_Stories.pdf
• A short riddle story about soup —

12) Here are some riddles that Chuck Larkin sent us awhile ago!
Riddles can be an exercise in visualization--
Two legs sat on three legs eating no legs when along came four legs and stole no legs from two legs. When four legs ran off with no legs, two legs picked up three legs and threw it at four legs until four legs brought no legs back. What happened?(A man was sitting on a stool eating a fish when along came a cat and stole the fish from the man. When cat ran off with the fish, the man picked up the stool and threw it at the cat until the cat brought the fish back.)
Born without skin nor flesh nor bone,
It cries but once and then it's gone.
(A fart.)
Belly to belly and arms around back
A bit of soft flesh stuck in a crack. What's going on?
(A woman is breast feeding.)
An old man holds it and he shakes it and he shakes it.
The old woman raises her skirt and she takes and she takes it. What's going on?
(An apple tree -- man and woman are taking down apples.)
Forty sheep went through a gap, forty more after that
Then a dog and then a cat, with a man followed the lot. How many feet went though the gap?
(Two. Sheep have hooves and dogs and cats have paws . Only men have feet.)
It's yellow and it shines but it isn't gold. What is it?
(The sun)
What has a head and a tail but no body?
(A penny)
What weighs nothing but sinks ships?
(A hole)
What's higher than the highest
Lower than the lowest
Greater than God
Worse that the devil
Dead men eat it
But if you eat it, you die. What is it?
(Ans.: Nothing.)
•••••The more it dries, the wetter it gets. What is it?
(Ans.: A towel.)
How far can a dog run in to the woods?
(Ans.: He can go IN only to the middle. After that he's coming OUT.)
It runs and runs but has no feet. What is it?
(Ans.: Water)
•••••What do you lose when you run a race and win
(Ans.:Your breath)
You go in one hole and come out three holes.
When you're outside, you're inside
And when you're inside, you're outside. What is it?
(Ans.--A jumper, sweater)
What can you put into a box to make it lighter?
(Ans: A hole.)
The longer it stands, the shorter it gets. What is it?
(Ans.: A candle)
A man is going to a field and when he gets there, he's knows he is going to die. What is happening here?
(Ans.: A man has just jumped from an airplane over a field -- and his parachute won't open.
What happens once in a minute, twice in a moment but never in a hundred years?
Ans: The letter M.
There are three haystacks out front of a house and another three haystacks out back of a house. When you put them together, how many haystacks do you have?
Ans.: One haystack.
Light as a feather and not much in it.
But ten strong people can't hold it a minute.
Ans.: Breath.
You throw away the outside and cook the inside.
Then you eat the outside and throw away the inside. What is it?
Ans.: Corn on the cob.
What goes up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?
Ans: An umbrella.
You take the top off to put the bottom on and then you take the bottom off to put the top on. What is it?
(Ans: A toilet seat.)
A needle has one and so does everything. What?
(Ans: A name.)
Ina V.D. 10/27/05

13) Liars' Paradise:
"There are two small towns, one of which is inhabited by people who always lie, and the other by people who always tell the truth. The first is called Liars' Paradise and the second Trueville. A man, wanting to visit Trueville, comes to a crossroad and to his amazement sees two roadsigns, pointing in opposite directions but both saying "To Trueville". Considering the matter, he decides that this is quite logical: the correct sign has been put up by the authorities of Trueville, and the other by the town council of Liar's Paradise. The latter should of course say "Liar's Paradise," but since they are liars they have put up a sign that also tells a lie. But our traveller is still at a loss because he doesn't know which is the right way to Trueville. Luckily he sees a man sitting by the roadside, who must definitely be from one of the two towns, only our traveller doesn't know which one. Now the problem is: By what single simple question can he find out for sure which is the right road?"
a) ONE ANSWER:The traveler could ask is, "Which road leads to your town?" If the man on the roadside is from Trueville, he'll point to the correct road, as that's the truth. If the man on the roadside is from Liar's Paradise, he'll still point to the correct road to Trueville, as that's a lie. OR
b)"If I ask someone from the other town which road is the right one, what will he say?" Then you take the *negative* of that answer.

2) A RIDDLE It's more powerful than God.
It's more evil than the Devil.
The poor have it.
The rich need it.
If you eat it you will die. What is the word???

Don't move to the bottom unless you give up and want the answer..The answer is NOTHING -
NOTHING is more powerful than God.
NOTHING is more evil than the Devil.
The poor have NOTHING.
The rich need NOTHING.
If you eat NOTHING you will die.

The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures by Malba Tahan Edinburgh: Canongate Pressn 1993 (originally published in Portugese in 1972) Malba Tahan is the creation of a 'celebrated Brazilian mathematician'. The frame story of the book involves a narrator meeting Beremiz Samir ('The Man Who Counted') and taking him to Bagdad where his mathematical skill is tested by many people who bring him challenges they think will defeat him. There are some well known riddles/problems, some with new twists. here is one example: the narrator has picked up Beremiz and they are sharing Beremiz's fine camel. They encounter three brothers who are arguing about a herd of camels. Their father has died and left the 35 camels to be divided between the three brothers in the proportions one half/one third/one ninth. they are finding this difficult. the narrator reluctantly allows Beremiz to borrow his camel and add it to the herd of 35. he then applies the instructions in the father's will, dividing the herd of 36 as follows 18+12+4 = 34 leaving his friend's camel and another which the grateful brothers are happy to allow him to take, since their problem has been solved.Also should work with 17 camels. But this version 'magically' gains a camel.
Ina V.D. 10/29/05

14) There was a lady on this list who collected riddle stories in to a book called Riddling Tales from around the World by Marjorie Dundas. It's a great collection. She died soon after the book was published, but I remember her posts as thoughtful and interesting. Many Storytell-ers are cited in the collection.
Granny Sue 11/2/05


What Do You Hear When Cows Sing?: And Other Silly Riddles (I Can Read Book 1) by Giulio and Marco Maestro. (1997 - Ages 4-8)
22 outrageous original riddles perfectly targeted to the funny bones of beginning readers. Laughing over the sheer silliness of these riddles and their zany illustrations, young readers will discover for themselves the delight of wacky wordplay. And just what do you hear when cows sing? MOOsic, of course!

What Time Is It? A Book Of Math Riddles (level 2) (Hello Reader, Math) by Sheila Keenan and Kayne Jacobs (illus). (2000 - Ages 4-8)
A really fun book for new (level 2)readers. Great for incorporating telling time and reading riddles.

I Spy Christmas: A Book of Picture Riddles by Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick (photographer). (1992 - Ages 4-8)
Unless you have a photographic memory, you will find that the challenge of finding the images described in these rhyming riddles to be a fresh one each time you open a page. There are 13 picture puzzles on the themes of ornaments, winter wonderland, window shopping, the holly and the ivy, winter sports, baking cookies, Christmas crafts, Santa's workshop, stocking stuffers, antique teddy bears, nutcracker sweets, under the tree, and Silent Night.

Spiderwort and the Princess of Haiku (The Fairy Chronicles) by J. H. Sweet and Holly Sierra (illus). (2007 - Ages 9-12)
Guided only by a strange riddle from given to them by an Oak tree, Spiderwort, along with Rosemary Periwinkle and Cinnebar, have only a little while to find the Princess of Haiku and get her to safety. As always the Fairies will have a little magical assistance this time from a well-meaning Scarecrow and the already ghostly Minstrel of Epic Poems.

Roman Mysteries #2: Secrets of Vesuvius (Roman Mysteries) by Caroline Lawrence. (2004 - Ages 9-12)
Flavia, Jonathan, Lupus, and Nubia-friends and detectives-sail to the Bay of Naples to spend the summer with Flavia's uncle, who lives near Pompeii. There they uncover a riddle that may lead them to great treasure. Meanwhile, tremors shake the ground, animals behave strangely, and people dream of impending doom. One of the worst natural disasters of all time is about to happen: the eruption of Mount Vesuvius!

The Silly Book by Stoo Hample. (2004 - Ages 4-8)
More than most books, this one depends on the interaction between the reader and the audience. When read with the right expression and tone to a receptive, language/sound fascinated boy or girl, this may be great fun and build future warm memories.

I Spy Fun House: A Book of Picture Riddles by Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick (photographer). (1993 - Ages 4-8)
13 more artfully contrived photos with rhyming ``riddles'' about objects that are not so much hidden as concealed by the bright, distracting diversity of their surroundings. A book that goes beyond the "Waldo'' formula with its imaginatively conceived, genuinely handsome photos.

Knock, Knock by Saxton Freymann and 13 other illustrators. (2007 - Ages 4-8)
The knock-knock joke: a kid classic. So many funny, punny punchlines. It was just screaming for its own book. To do this classic joke justice, we decided to gather fourteen of the best-known and most talented children’s book artists to illustrate their favorite punchlines. The results are wacky, zany, and absolutely hilarious.
In this collection, you’ll recognize some of your favorite jokes and be surprised by new ones.

1,000 Knock Knock Jokes for Kids by Michael Kilgarriff. (1986)
Kids can never get enough knock-knock jokes. For the insatiable riddler, here are 1,000 jokes that will satisfy the need to tease. Here are knock-knocks about names, songs, insults, sayings, puns, and many, many more, in this laugh-out-loud anthology of knock-knock jokes kids will love.

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? by Tedd Arnold, Harry Bliss, David Catrow and 7 other authors. (2006 - Ages 4-8)
We all know the joke. We’ve all told it. Kids love to tell it over and over and over again, with as many different punch lines as possible. And now we’ve found out that famous award-winning artists love to tell the joke too—and they have some wacky and downright hilarious ideas about why that chicken really did cross the road.

Brain Quest Bathtime: 175 Stories, Poems, Questions and Answers--Even Jokes and Riddles--to Read Together with a Little Duck Named Gus (Brain Quest) by Brain Quest. (2002 - Ages 4-8)
10 original poems and stories and over 100 questions and answers on the very subjects kids want to talk about while splashing around in the tub with Mom or Dad keeping them company. Is there such a thing as a flying fish? How many legs does an octopus have? Is sea water salty or sweet? There is silly stuff--say "toy boat" five times fast; "Little Scientist"--what would happen to an ice cube if it fell into your warm tub?

Matt Christopher's Baseball Jokes and Riddles by Matt Christopher and Dan Vasconcellos (illus). (1996 - Ages 4-8)
The book includes funny anecdotes from baseball history, references to players' unusual names or nicknames, and some jokes and riddles. Adding to the presentation are Vasconcellos's pen-and-ink cartoons, with a particularly effective frog in the outfield snaring a fly ball.

(This web page updated 11/5/05; 6/15/08; 4/1/09)


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