World Folktales and Fables Week is celebrated each year during the third week of each March. (This year it’s March 18-24.) Be sure to enjoy a good folktale at home and in your classroom! Use #WorldFolktales on social media, and tell us about your favorite folktales and fables.
Folktales and Fables as a Teaching Tool
Reading folktales and fables together is not only a wonderful way to entertain and bond with children, it is also an effective way to educate them. The stories in classic folklore offer social lessons, as well as an opportunity to teach kids about cultures and languages. Folktales and fables are particularly enticing with their simple characters and settings, a conflict set early in the story, and their moral lessons. We see good triumph over evil, and cunning and ingenuity used to solve problems or outwit an adversary.
Bilingual folktales from around the world have the added benefit of encouraging children to practice second language skills while teaching them about other parts of the world. Here are some excellent bilingual folktales to enjoy with your kids.
The Giant Turnip: A Russian Fable
This story, based on the Russian Fable The Enormous Turnip, teaches younger students about cooperation and perseverance. The author tells us the story of a huge turnip that Miss Honeywood’s class is trying to get out of the ground. Together, they are finally able to do it, but it takes some rope, a little strength and (most importantly) teamwork.
Available in English with Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Czech, Farsi, French, German, Gujarati, Hungarian, Italian, Lithuanian, Panjabi, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Turkish, Urdu and Yoruba.
Fox Fables from Around the World
This wonderful bilingual children’s book includes two fables. The first, The Fox and the Crane, is about sneaky Fox who makes it hard for Crane to eat dinner by feeding Crane (who has a large beak) from a short and shallow bowl. Crane then teaches Fox a lesson by giving him a tall and narrow bowl from which Fox is unable to reach his dinner. The story ends with the lesson that we must treat others the way we want to be treated.
The second story, the Chinese fable The King of the Forest, addresses the idea of whether intelligence or strength is more important. Fox tricks Tiger into thinking that Fox is king of the forest because all the animals cower in fear when the two of them walk by. Tiger does not realize the power of Fox’s fearsome cleverness.
Available in English with Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Farsi, French, Scottish-Gaelic, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Kurdish, Panjabi, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Tamil, Turkish, Twi, Urdu, Vietnamese and Yoruba.
Buri and the Marrow: A Bengali Story
This intriguing story follows Buri and her journey to her daughter and back home again, while avoiding being eaten by a fox, a tiger and a lion. It teaches students about problem solving and overcoming challenges as Buri tries to make it home hidden inside her marrow. It’s a fun and silly read for children of all ages.
Available in English with Albanian, Bengali, Chinese, Farsi, Gujarati, Panjabi, Polish, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Turkish, Urdu and Vietnamese.
Lion Fables: Tales about the King of Beasts
This book comes with two bilingual fables. The first one, titled The Lion and the Mouse, teaches children why it’s important not to judge anyone too quickly. The lion in the story decides not to eat the mouse because the mouse says that one day he could possibly save the lion’s life. The lion’s decision pays off when he later gets stuck in a hunter’s net, and the mouse spends all night chewing the rope on the net to free the lion, and ultimately saves his life.
The second story, a Malaysian fable called The Hare’s Revenge, is the story of a hare who uses his cleverness to trick the lion into a trap. The hare makes use of the lion’s vanity and jealousy to escape with his life.
Available in English with Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Farsi, French, Lithuanian, Panjabi, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Turkish, Urdu and Vietnamese.
Yeh-Hsien a Chinese Cinderella: A Classic Tale with a Twist
This bilingual book is a new spin on the classic story of Cinderella. Yeh-Hsien lives a less than desirable life, and her only friend is the fish that lives in the pond near her house. One day, her evil stepmother kills the fish, but Yeh-Hsien discovers that the fish’s bones are magical. She wishes for a new dress to wear to the Spring Festival. She later must leave the festival in a hurry, and her golden shoe slips off her foot. The king finds it, and searches for the woman who left it behind.
Available in English with Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Farsi, French, Gujarati, Hindi, Japanese, Kurdish, Panjabi, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Turkish, Urdu and Vietnamese.
What are your family’s favorite folktales and fables? Comment below and tell us about them! Spread the word about World Folktales and Fables Week by using #WorldFolktales.
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