Folktales

Julius Lester Teaches about the Black Experience

Julius Lester came of age during the fight for civil rights for black Americans. In 1960, he graduated from Fiske College and became involved with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee which organized student protests in communities across the nation.

Simms Taback: Welcome to the Shtetl

Mr. Taback grew up in the East Bronx of New York City in 1930s and 40s. His family was Jewish, and they had strong ties to Eastern Europe. Their neighborhood was made up of many such families who together created a community rich in the traditions of the Old Country. When he was a young boy, he spoke the Yiddish language. Although he remembers little of it today, the old songs, stories, and ways of life have made a tremendous impact on the work of this Caldecott Award-winner. In old Poland, a village such as the one he grew up in would be called a shtetl.

The Many Stories of Patricia Polacco

Every morning, Patricia (Trisha) Polacco wakes to the sounds of singing birds on her old Michigan farm. She goes downstairs, pours herself a cup of coffee, and then plays an antique music box, enjoying its magical beauty. She then sits in her favorite chair, rocks and rocks, and dreams of stories, old and new, that she can tell to children through her words and her drawings.

From Village to Village with Jane Kurtz

Ethiopia-the faraway land on the horn of Africa, was Jane Kurtz's home when she was a young girl. Her parents were missionaries there, and her playmates were dark-skinned, smiling children. They mostly lived in grass-covered huts with dirt floors covered with mats—as did Jane and her family. The boys might work as cattle herders; the girls would help their mothers with cooking until it was time for them to be married.

Ashley Bryan: Stories for the Spirit

Ashley Bryan is a man who uses his words and pictures to lift up readers' spirits. When he enters a room and starts to tell stories from Africa's past, he transports his audience to a faraway, long ago time to learn valuable lessons for today. His talents illuminate wisdom earned from a lifetime of hard work.

Jill Paton Walsh: An English Author

Gillian Bliss was born April 29, 1937, in London. She grew up during Britain's dark days of World War II. Like the children in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, she was sent off to stay with her grandparents far away from the bombs falling on London. For years she lived away from her parents in a beautiful part of England called Cornwall. Cornwall is linked to many legends, including the stories of King Arthur and Merlin.

Paul Goble: "Little Thunder"

Readers who enjoy Paul Goble's many stories of traditional Native American lives and legends are sometimes surprised to discover that the author/illustrator was born in England and not in the American West.

When he was a young boy, he liked to spend time at a lake near his home. He studied all the plants, birds, animals, and insects he saw there throughout the year, and he began to collect arrowheads and wildflowers. Soon he started to draw and paint from nature and from the specimens he would find in books and museums.

Into the Lyons' Den

Born on November 28, 1947, in Macon, Georgia, Mary Evelyn Lyons came from a family where reading was a part of everyday life. Her family moved around a lot, and Mary found a way to stay centered was by keeping her nose in a book or even a comic book. She liked to read different kinds of things. She read all the time, but she especially enjoyed "Katy Keene" fashion comics, and the Newbery-winner Hitty, Her First Hundred Years was definitely a favorite. This story of a beloved doll being passed down and loved by generations of girls had much history woven into it—something Mary would learn a lot about as she got older.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm: Brothers and Best Friends

Without Jacob and Wilhelm’s efforts to gather folk tales from their German homeland and making them popular worldwide, it’s unlikely we’d know Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, or Snow White.

Beautiful Butterflies

They flutter around the tall, bright flowers in springtime and summer, only stopping to drink sweet nectar or lay their eggs on green leaves. Who would believe a gorgeous butterfly could come from a homely caterpillar?

You can watch this miracle happen at your house. Grab a butterfly book from the library to learn how to find their eggs and raise them from creepy-crawlies into splendid winged beauties. While you wait for them to grow, try a butterfly folktale or two. People around the world have made up stories about butterflies!