FABLES & FOLKTALES from AROUND THE WORLD : K~3 Book Lists & Websites

Fables & Folktales K-3

Since the beginning of time, before words were written,  storytellers all over the world shared  other storytellers’ tales to teach lessons, explain reasons for events, and enchant each other with mystical legends, epics & sagas.

How fascinating is it that similar stories about creation, animals, weather, land forms, nature, and human behaviors share similarities with their messages, origins and humor!

Threads of magic, trickery, good , evil, bravery & morality can be found in every culture’s stories passed down for hundreds of years  from one generation to the next.

Elders whispered these tales to their young while tucking them in at night.

Parents cautioned their wild, young teens while eating a midday meal.

Neighbors amused each other while working together for the community.

Societies celebrated and strengthened their ancestry, traditions, and culture with these oral narratives for hundreds of years.

Beginning Folktales & Fables

While some stories will be entertaining to your young child, the “lesson” or “moral” of the story may be harder for him/her to understand without some coaxing on your part.

You may want to begin with simpler, easy-to-understand tales, like:

  • THE THREE LITTLE PIGS : hard work takes time, but it’s worth it in the end
  • LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD : don’t talk to strangers
  • THE LITTLE RED HEN : teamwork
  • GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS : self-control & respecting others
  • THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE : slow & steady wins the race
  • THE CROW AND THE PITCHER : using your brain can solve a difficult problem
  • THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE ANT : planning & working for the future
  • THE LION AND THE MOUSE : friendship comes in all shapes & sizes
  • HOW THE LEOPARD GOT ITS SPOTS : sometimes you need to change to be successful
  • THE ELEPHANT’S NOSE : your curiosity can change you

You can click on this link for a PDF reading comprehension sheet to work together with your child for all of these stories:

I Understand the Story

Folktales & Fables from Around the World

Here’s a list of picture books you and your child can read together. 

I gathered these books from my classroom experiences as well as  these other sources: Scholastic Book Wizard for Teachers, Reading Rockets, The Best Children’s Books ( a teacher collective) and Stories to Grow by (a parent site).

Several pieces of information are included for each book : country of origin, title, retelling author, page number & reading level.

I selected text that are written on a K-3 interest level and many can be read by your child independently by the end of Third grade.

Although they are grouped into “general” lessons/morals the stories are teaching, most of the stories share more than one message.


  • Mexico: Aardema, Verna BORREQUITA AND THE COYOTE 32pgs / RL~ 3rd
  • India: Hamilton, Martha THE GHOST CATCHER 32pgs/RL~3rd
  • Israel: Schram, Peninnah THE MAGIC POMEGRANATE 48pgs / RL~ 3rd
  • Brazil: DeSpain, Pleasant DANCING TURTLE 32pgs/RL ~ 2nd
  • Africa: Llottridge, Celia THE NAME OF THE TREE 36pgs/RL ~ 3rd


  • Inuit: Dabcovich, Lydia THE POLAR BEAR SON 40pgs/RL ~ 3rd
  • Chile: Pitcher, Caroline MARIANA AND THE MERCHILD 32pgs/RL~ 2nd-3rd
  • Korea: Jaffe, Nina OLDER BROTHER, YOUNGER BROTHER 32pgs/RL~ 3rd
  • Africa: Steptoe, John MUFARO’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS 32pgs/RL ~ 3rd
  • India: Casey, Dawn THE WHITE MOUSE 32pgs/RL ~ 2nd-3rd


  • Ukraine: Brett, Jan THE MITTEN 32pgs/RL ~ 2nd-3rd
  • China: Demi THE EMPTY POT 32pgs/RL ~ 2nd-3rd
  • Australia: Maddern, Eric RAINBOW BIRD 32pgs/RL ~ 3rd
  • USA: Lumbard, Alexis PINE AND THE WINTER SPARROW 28pgs/RL ~2nd
  • Europe: Forest, Heather STONE SOUP 32pgs/RL ~ 1st


  • Africa: Aardema, Verna BRINGING THE RAIN TO KAPITI PLAIN 32pgd/RL~ 3rd
  • Mayan: Lowery, Linda THE CHOCOLATE TREE 48pgs/RL ~ 2nd-3rd
  • Morocco: Turk, Evan THE STORYTELLER 48pgs/RL ~ 4th
  • USA: Madison, Debra THE DAY THE COLORS BECAME FRIENDS 32pgs/RL ~ 3rd
  • Mexico: Anaya, Rudolfo THE FIRST TORTILLA 32pgs/RL ~ 2nd-3rd


  • India: Backstein, Karen THE BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT 48pgs/RL ~ 2nd
  • USA: Martin, Rafe THE ROUGH-FACE GIRL 32pgs/RL ~ 2nd-3rd
  • Mexico: Olivera, Fernando THE WOMAN WHO OUTSHONE THE SUN 32pgs/RL ~ 3rd
  • Puerto Rico: Bernier-Grand, Carmen JUAN BOBO 64pgs/RL~ 3rd

Believe me ~ there are HUNDREDS more !!! Here’s a few websites to help you in your search.


These few website share folktales, fables, and books from all over the globe. Some include lessons, activities and links to more resources.

  • 70 Fables & Folktales from Around the World @ blessedbeyondadoubt.com are divided by continents
  • Folktales, Fables & Fairy Tales are listed by continents @ worldoftales.com
  • dltk-teach.com reads 8 Aesop fables and includes activities for them
  • 35 folktales from around the world are listed by genre, culture, theme, age interest level, word length, a summary and where to find them @ aaronshep.com
  • Rudyard Kipling’s JUST SO STORIES for LITTLE CHILDREN can  be found and read @ ebooks.adelaide.edu.au
  • Pitara.com , which translates~ a chest full of surprises, is just that. This site is full of kid-friendly fun. Click on fiction to link to folktales.

For 100s of years, millions of children from every part of the world absolutely LOVE to hear & read folktales, fables, tall tales and fairy tales.

Share some of you and yours favorites with us!

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