Traditional tales often take on a life of their own, traveling the world and finding new interpretations within the cultures they encounter. This collection of Reading Room stories, brings together several tales from different traditions.
One of the best ways to begin to form an elementary understanding of a culture is to read its fables and parables. The stories passed on to children often highlight the cultural values and prohibitions of a people, as well as the conflicts that animate their lives.
Take your child on a tour around the world with our “stories from around the world” series.
A father had three sons. He could not decide who deserved his inheritance after his death. So he called his sons, gave them a bag of gold and told them to go and find him the sweetest fruit. The one who would bring the most precious fruit would get the whole fortune. This story reminds us that true riches cannot always be seen.
A selfish turtle wants to fly, and he’ll do anything to make it happen. Turtle was angry that his flippers weren’t wings and that his shell made him too heavy to fly. Turtle finally asks, or rather demands, that a goose help him fly. The geese come up with an idea to hold a stick that Turtle could hold onto with his strong mouth.
A jackal discovers a lion is coming to eat him. He persuades the lion that rocks from above are about to fall and kill them both. Then, while the lion holds up a rock, the jackal says he will go to look for a log to hold the rock in place, and runs far away from the hungry lion. The lion discovers that sometimes cleverness trumps strength.
Shirin, a girl from Tehran, feels noticeably different from other kids in her class after moving to London to live with her cousins. In her chador she can’t help but stand out from everyone else, but when a boy named Stephen takes a moment to talk to Shirin, he helps her discover that it’s okay to be different.
Best friends are one of life’s truly great joys. Deep friendships like these offer solace during hard times and laugh-til-your-face-hurts happiness other times. Today’s story reminds us of the how important friendships are, and that a kind gesture or words shared, can go a long way.