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.
Why the sun and the moon live in the sky
The sun and water were great friends who both lived on earth. The sun and the moon were driven into the sky when the water came to visit, and they have been there ever since.
The Beggar and the Miser
“Help others so others will help during you the times of need.” That’s the hard lesson a selfish, rich man learned who never helped anyone, so no one would help him either.
The Toy Goose
A Flea, a Grasshopper, and a Toy-goose once wanted to see which of them could jump highest, and so they invited the whole world and everybody else who would like to come, to see the frolic.
The Tiger, the Brahman and the Jackal
This tale from India is about a good-hearted Brahman – or holy man – who helps a tiger out of a trap. The tiger then turns on him and threatens to eat him.
The Most Precious Fruit
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.
The Boastful Turtle
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.
The Lion and The Jackal
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.
The Beauty of Difference
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.
A Good Friend
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.
A Lesson of Tit for Tat
A camel and a fox were very good friends. Fox was about to learn a very valuable lesson not good to betray a friend, and that if you do wrong by somebody then somebody might well do wrong by you. This folktale shows us how “you reap what you sow”.
A Story of Courage
When we hear about or witness small acts of courage, sometimes disguised as mere confidence, it inspires us to be courageous too. This story reminds us to believe in ourselves, be daring, and to speak up.
The Enchanted Watch
There are no short cuts to success; you have to take the stairs. This is the hard lesson that Jenik learnt in this story when he found himself a watch Genie and thought that he could have all the riches his heart desired, the easy way.
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