Legends and Myths in Children's Books



Legends and myths from around the world can be found in many excellent children's books on the market today. Children are perhaps more open to and interested in learning about historical and
cultural legends and myths because they are better able to reach the suspension of disbelief required to immerse yourself in these sorts of stories.

Below are some of our favorite books about children's books about various myths and legends. We hope to add to this list this summer, so please share your favorites with us by clicking the 'suggest a book' box in the upper right column.

We also have books in other genres & writing modes. To see these lists: Books for Teaching Language Arts



The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush
The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush
by Tomie dePaola

Summary:
Little Gopher is small for his age but he does have a special talent: he's an artist. One night in a dream, he is told where to find brushes filled with vibrant colors. The next day he locates them and paints beautifully colored flowers called 'Indian Paintbrush'. (This tale of how a flower came to be is great when paired with dePaola's Legend of the Bluebonnet).

Reading Levels:
Interest Level--K-Gr. 2     Difficulty Level--age 4-8

Coming Next: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
The Legend of the Bluebonnet
The Legend of the Bluebonnet
An Old Tale of Texas

Summary: 
A popular Comanche legend that tells the story of how the state flower of Texas--the bluebonnet--came into existence due to the bravery of a young Indian girl who ended the suffering of her people by sacrificing her most valued possession. (Pair this with dePaola's Legend of the Indian Paintbrush).

Reading Levels:
Interest Level--K-Gr.2     Difficulty Level--age 4-8

Coming Next: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
The Legend of the Poinsettia
The Legend of the Poinsettia
by Tomie dePaola

Summary:
In the tradition of dePaola's books Native American folk tales, this book shares the Mexican tale of how the poinsettia came into existence. Lucinda wanted to give a special gift to baby Jesus at Christmas time, but she was poor and had nothing to give save a bundle of weeds, which, through her faith and prayers, miraculously turn into beautiful poinsettias.


Reading Levels:
Interest Level--K-Gr.2     Difficulty Level--age 4-8

Coming Next: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
Manu and the Talking Fish
Manu and the Talking Fish
by Roberta Arenson

Summary:
Many cultures have flood stories similar to the biblical Noah story; this book retells the Hindu flood myth about a prince named Manu who helps a talking fish and in return is warned about an impending flood. The fish instructs Manu to build a large boat in preparation, and when the flood comes, the fish tows the boat to a mountain where Manu and his cargo of animals and plant seeds are saved, and survive to renew the world again.

Rdg Levels:   Interest--K-Gr.4   Difficulty--age 4-8

Coming Next: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
Wolf Gubbio
The Wolf of Gubbio
by Michael Bedard

Summary:
Told through the eyes of a child, The Wolf of Gubbio is a retelling the Italian legend of a wolf that terrorizes a small Italian town until a local saint blesses the animal and makes peace with it, promising it would never go hungry if it stopped menacing the town. Complemented by stunning, cubistic paintings drenched in russets and gold.


Reading Levels:
Interest Level-- Gr. 2-4    Difficulty Level--age 4-8

Coming Next: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
Origin of Life
The Origin of Life on Earth
An African Creation Myth

Summary: A retelling of an African creation myth with colorful illustrations, glowing with hot yellow and sapphire. "Themes of determination, generosity, and the sacredness of life...extend its appeal." (SLJ)

Rdg Levels:  Interest--Gr. 2-6   Difficulty--age 4-8

Coming Next: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc




Greek God



Tales from the Odyssey
Tales from the Odyssey
by Mary Pope Osborne

Summary: 
A retelling of Homer's Odyssey by Mary Pope Osborne, author of the popular Magic Tree House series. Osborne's retelling is paired down, both simple and engaging, and delivered in "small, beautifully written, accessible bites." (Booklist)

Books in the series include:
 -The Land of the Dead   -
Sirens and Sea Monsters
 -The One-Eyed Giant    -The Gray-Eyed Goddess
 -Return to Ithaca           -The Final Battle

Each book also contains helpful historical background information about Ancient Greek mythology and Homer, as well as a pronunciation guide and listing of the major gods and goddesses.


Reading Levels:
Interest Level-- Gr. 4-8   Difficulty Level-- age 9-12

Coming Next: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
Favorite Norse Myths by Mary Pope Osborne
Favorite Norse Myths
by Mary Pope Osborne

Summary:
"An eye-catching, well-told collection" (SLJ) of 14 Norse myths including The Golden Apples and How Thor Got His Hammer. Each retelling is straight- forward but retains a mythic tone. The magic, in our opinion, is the pairing of the narrative with Howell's oil and acrylic paintings, which create powerful images of the key gods, goddesses, and giants of Norse mythology. PW called this book "stunning."


Reading Levels:
Interest Level-- Gr. 3-6    Difficulty Level--age 9-12

Coming Next: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc






We plan to add A LOT more to this section very soon. We are definitely just getting started on our legends and myths list!  If you know of some great children's books about legends and myths. If so, please let us know by completing the Suggest a Book form, located in the top right column.

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