When my teenage son was in third grade, he discovered the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan and he couldn’t get enough of them. Fast forward ten years and now my youngest child is reading them. These books that combine magic, mythology and life lessons are also known as folktales and fables, and countries around the world have their own versions and favorites, like the story of La Llorona from Mexico. Here are five new books from diverse cultures to celebrate World Folktales & Fables Week, March 20-27.
The 2021 Newbery Medal Winner, When You Trap A Tiger, is a beautiful story about family, courage and the power of stories. Lily moves in with her halmoni (Korean grandmother) after her halmoni becomes very ill. Lily, who often feels invisible in her family, must find her voice and conquer her fear in order to save her halmoni and confront the tigers who are tied to her halmoni’s fate. Tigers are of special significance to Korean culture and author Tae Keller does an exceptional job of highlighting their significance in this book.
Set in modern day Nigeria, Ikenga is the story of a 12 year old boy who vows to avenge his father’s death with the help of his best friend, Chioma. Author Nnedi Okorafor weaves her usual storytelling magic in this great adventure story that will surely attract many superhero fans.
Jezebel Turner and her twin Jack are dealing with the death of their grandmother when their Uncle Doc decides to show them the family tradition of rootwork in Root Magic. It takes place in South Carolina in 1963, has plenty of ghosts and magic and it gives readers a rare glimpse of the Gullah Geechee culture in that state.
Lalani of the Distant Sea is the newest book by Newbery Award winner Erin Entrada Kelly. It is one of the few children’s books that centers Filipino culture, characters and folklore. An excellent book for readers who enjoy a dark story with twists and turns.
Fans of the Rick Riordan Presents series will savor this new book, City of the Plague God, by Sarwat Chadda. Based in New York City, the story features Sikander “Sik” Aziz, a young Iraqi American boy who must save the city from a life threatening plague. It’s packed with plenty of Mesopotamian mythology and Iraqi and Middle Eastern culture.
What is your favorite folktale or fable? Does your family have a favorite story they retell often? Share it with us!