Book List: Folk & Fairy Tales

A few readers have asked me about the books we are reading for our folk and fairy tale unit so I thought I'd share some of our favorites. I feel like I should note that I live in a town with an amazing library. They have a very large collection of books (and other materials) and I am allowed to check out 50 items at time! They also have a very user-friendly, online catalog that allows me to reserve materials from the comfort of my couch and then pick up them at their drive-thru window. With it being that easy, we go through a lot books, which is great since Big Buddy seems to have an insatiable appetite.

When I am planning any unit, my favorite place to start looking for books is this list of Caldecott Medal and Honor Books.  There are several folk and fairy tales on the list. Here are ones that we have picked up: 

Saint George And The Dragon 
This book is a retelling of a part fom Spenser's The Faerie Queene.  The illustrations are beautiful and the retelling does the original work justice. Trina Schart Hyman also has illustrated beautiful versions of Little Red Riding Hood, The Sleeping Beauty, The Fortune Teller, and Rapunzel   

The Lion and The Mouse  
No text in this book, just detailed, captivating illustrations. If you have trouble remembering the tale there is a brief synopsis in the back. You'll also want to check out some of Jerry Pinkney's other works including The Ugly Duckling, Little Red Riding Hood, The Talking Eggs, & Aesop's Fables

A great balance between the overly sweet disneyfied versions and the more gory Cinderella tales.  Marcia Brown's illustrated version of The Three Billy Goat Gruff and Stone Soup are also good reads. 

My next step in choosing books for units is to see if any of my favorite authors/illustrators have any works that correspond with our theme. 

Paul Galdone has several retellings of folktales. I'd highly recommend his Nursery ClassicsThe Three Billy Goats GruffThe Elves and the Shoemaker, and The Gingerbread Boy

James Marshall's illustrations bring a great humor to fairy tales that I'm sure most preschoolers will enjoy. Some of our favorites are Cindrella, Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, and Hansel and Gretel 

Jan Brett is probably most well know for The Mitten but she also has a beautifully illustrated retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Her retellings of Goldilocks & The Three Bears and Town & Country Mouse are also worth checking out. 

My last step in looking for books is to search the subject in our library's online catalog; this is how I stumbled upon these treasures. 

Fairy Tales told by Berlie Dotherty 

A nice collection of 12 tales including Beauty and the Beast, Red Riding Hood, Aladdin, The Wild Swan, etc.  It's well written and the enchanting illustrations and beautiful borders make the book feel extra special.

The Fairy Tale Book
also see
The Bedtime Story Book

Both books contain a numerous collections of tales (The Bedtime Story Book is folktales and fables).  The tales are short but still engaging. The illustrations, though small and in black and white, are well done. 

My boys loved these fairy tale graphic novels by Stone Arch Books. The pictures are not as dark as most graphic novels and are actually very kid-friendly. Some of the retellings are a little weak but I like that each book contains a history of the tale in the back as well as some discussion questions. They have a graphic novel for pretty much every well known tale, but if you were just going to check out one, I'd recommend Jack and the Beanstalk.

Beauty and the Beast 

This version of Beauty and the Beast is full of breathtakingly gorgeous paintings. I would also recommend checking out his version of Sleeping Beautyeven if just for the illustrations alone. 

Tikki Tikki Tembo

This book has actually been a favorite of mine for a long time. I have yet to met a young child that doesn't delight in hearing this Chinese folk tale.  I'm not always a huge fan of recorded picture books but if your library has it I would recommend getting the recorded version of this story. It's quite a mouth full to read and your child will want to hear it numerous times.  I also think the music on the recording adds a lot to the tale. 

So that's my list of recommendations, and I hope you find it helpful. I do want to note one more thing. Originally fairy tales were quite scary stories and when choosing books I purposely tried to stay away from "Disney" versions of the tales. The retellings I have listed are not overly grotesque or graphic, and except for a few word substations ("silly/foolish" for "stupid"), I read these tales to Big Buddy unedited.  I understand, however, that families and children react differently to stories/images so I would recommend proofing these before sharing them with your child. 


  1. I love Jan Brett! One of my favorites as a kid. If you ever get into American Folk Tales, Stephen Kellogg has a fantastic collection and more besides. He's a great story teller and incredible illustrator. Bill Pete, while only dabbling in fairy tales - he helped created the image of Tinker Bell as first seen for Peter Pan Peanut Butter and helped Disney make Snow White - also has some great illustrated books that I enjoy to this day. Most of them are about trains and environmental consciousness. The Wump World is a particular favorite, along with The Caboose Who Got Loose. It's great to see MM in such a reading frenzy. I hope it lasts a lifetime.

  2. We found your site on Hip Homeschool Hop. Great site, keep up the good work :)


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