These are very old folk stories that explain the creation of our world or how we should behave.

One of the most popular fables is The Tortise and the Hare, one of Aesop's Fables. Aesop was a slave who lived during the time of the Greek Empire (a very long time ago) and recorded many of the popular folk tales of his lifetime. These stories usually end with a statement of the moral (or important message) of the story.

Available at our library:

The Race, by Caroline Repchuk. This book uses beautiful illustrations and rhyming text to update the tale of the turtle and the rabbit.

More information online:

How the Beetle Got Her Colors -This is a story from Brazil about a race between a rat and a beetle.  This story provides an excellent compare and contrast opportunity with The Tortise and the Hare.

Trickster tales

These are stories in which a character (usually a smaller and weaker character) has to use his or her brain to escape danger or get what he wants. The trickster character appears in stories all over the world, and all through time.

  • In ancient Greek mythology, Hermes is a trickster whose quick wit and sense of humor led to his position as messenger of the gods.
  • In many Native American tales, Coyote is the trickster who is often outwitted.
  • In the African folk tales of the Ashanti people, the trickster is Anansi the Spider who is quick witted but very lazy and greedy. When African slaves were brought to the United States, they brought trickster stories with them and created many more using the small, weak, but very cunning Brer (or Bruh) Rabbit as the new trickster.

Trickster tales are unique because the traditional ending of the tale is uncertain. Sometimes the trickster "wins" and gets away with tricking other characters, but other times he is tricked in turn and becomes caught in his own traps or lies.

Some trickster tales available at our library:

"A Story, A Story" -- This tale describes how stories entered the world.

"Anansi and Turtle," from the book, African American Folktales for Young Readers. In this story, Anansi first tricks Turtle, but then overestimates his own cunning.

"Change" from the book, Porch Lies. This is a story about a notorious trickster who might (or might not) be playing tricks.

More information online:

Cultural Learning Through Folktales - A good place to learn more about Trickster tales

Folktale Machine (this game requires the Flash plugin) - A cute way to find a few more folk tales to read