Lit Kid: folk tales from around the world

I’ve written about folk tales before. Mostly in the ‘fill the gap between chapter books‘ kind of way. And that’s good.

But with Junior Reader somewhat more of a seasoned traveller than before, and a bit more aware of different countries (thank you, Olympics and Commonwealth Games), folk tales from around the world now have more impact.

And of course, at least in part, I read them aloud because I loved them myself. Less well travelled than Junior Reader at the equivalent age (although I’ve tried to make up for it since), I travelled by reading.

The bonus being, you can board the plane at any time. (And get off in time for tea. And reboard afterwards.)


I find it interesting the way that different countries attract us. Those attractions are different for different people, and that’s good too. (Junior Reader shows much more interest in Japan than I did, but then judo helps on that front.)

Sometimes, particular countries and their mindsets captivate us. We take them on, they become part of us.

I remember reading, in my teens, a biography of C. S. Lewis. Part of what resonated for me was discovering an unrealised similarity: that he too liked Autumn, and the North.

(By this I do not mean ‘anything above London’, as certain road signs would have it, but a much broader notion of northness – with quite a lot of focus on Nordic countries.)

You probably won’t be surprised at my liking a collection of Norwegian folk tales – nor various collections of Scots ones. But there are others that sneak up on you too.

I have a fondness for a particular collection of Indian folk stories – partly the lovely pictures accompanying them. As well as the anthropological discoveries that come in the reading (like the chewing of betel nut. In my case, just the learning, not the actual chewing.)

And although I am not best friends with spiders, by any means, I also feel friendly towards Anansi the Spider Man, the main character in Ghanaian folk stories. (Now there’s an anti-hero. Or is he really a hero after all? Discuss.)

So I’ll be fitting those in over the coming weeks. If I can find myself a decent collection of Brer Rabbit stories, I rather fancy including those too. (Brer Rabbit is another trickster character, with stories told in the Southern United States and also among Native Americans.)

Looking over those, I feel I should make an attempt to find some South American stories, just to spread out the readings over the different continents. Let me know if there’s any you think I should try.

In the meantime, I think I’ve got Junior Reader hooked on Askelad, hero of the Norwegian folk stories. More on him next time.

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