by Charles Kovacs
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Charles Kovacs' curriculum notes are so wonderful - it is a recurring joy to browse through them and to see new titles appear. There is no doubt in my mind that he has planted seeds of hope for our children and the world.
In this newest collection of Norse Myths, Kovacs beautifully retells the stories of 19 of the Norse gods (including Freya, Thor, Odin, Loki and many more), 4 of the great Sagas (Nibelung, Gudrune, Frithiof, and Kvasir) and the 3 key stories of the Twilight of the Gods ("The Death of Baldur," "Loki's Punishment," and "Ragnarok"). The sweep of these stories if read in order paints a heartfelt picture of the flourishing and fall of an age where giants and gods strode across the earth itself. To read it is to apprehend anew the heartbeat of Norse mythology.
Used in Grade 4 within the Waldorf curriculum.
The Children of Odin
The Book of Northern Myths
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Meet Thor, Baldur, Freya, Odin and all the higher gods - and Loki too, mischief maker and clever deceiver. Filled with the most extraordinary tales of great depth, imagination and wisdom it is impossible to resist this wonderful book - and Colum's telling is outstanding. Filled with drama, intrigue, humor and adventure, this collection of tales begins with the building of Asgard, home of the gods, and ends with the final battle of Ragnarok when the world is deluged i water and made anew.
In between we meet Iduna and her golden apples, Freya of the ill-gotten necklace, Odin the Wanderer, Sigurd the Dragon Slayer, the mischievous, clever but vindictive Loki, and the whole Norse pantheon from giants to dwarves. For richness, cultural wealth and sheer grandeur, the Norse myths stand alone and unique in the world.
This edition has been given a new cover by Reg Down and the type has been reset, making this edition much more readable than previous editions.
The content of The Children of Odin is identical to that of Nordic Gods and Heros.
Nordic Gods and Heroes
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One of the world's greatest storytellers has given us what I believe is the most elegant and engaging versions of the core of Norse mythology. Padraic Colum's retellings of these timeless stories of the rather raucous pantheon of Norse Gods, giants and heroes will draw you and your students or children into the story, hold you there through to the end and when it is over, leave you hoping for more stories to come. This is a reprint of Colum's book that was originally published in 1920 -- and what a wonderful thing it is to have it available here and now!
Among the many stories in Nordic Gods and Heroes are:
- Iduna and Her Apples - How Loki Put the Gods in Danger
- How Freya Gained Her Necklace and How Her Loved One Was Lost to Her
- How Frey Won Gerda, the Giant Maiden, and How He Lost His Magic Sword
- The All-Father's Forebodings: How He Leaves Asgard
- Odin Goes to Mimir's Well - His Sacrifice for Wisdom
- How Thor and Loki Befooled Thrym the Giant
- Ægir's Feast: How Thor Triumphed
- Loki the Betrayer
- Baldur's Doom
- Sigurd at the House of the Nibelungs
- The Twilight of the Gods
And many, many more!
Introduced and Retold by Kevin Crossley-Holland
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I have been looking for a good collection of Norse Myths for some time - and have been wanting to offer this one for even longer. Every time I asked, however, I was told that it was unavailable. I kept asking, though, and at last heard that once again there were copies on the publisher's shelves! from
If you are unfamiliar with Norse Mythology (as I also once was), the introduction is priceless. In it the author outlines the Norse Pantheon, the relationships of the gods and the progression of the myths from The Creation to the Ragnorak.
Crossley-Holland has selected 32 myths that capture in vivid story the tales of these boisterous, courageous, cruel and passionate gods. You'll find Thor, Odin, Baldur, and Loki and a host of other fascinating gods and giants, and watch as the world of the Vikings moves from hopeful beginnings to abundant (and often clashing) life to the final battle that brings a close to that world.
This is a collection that is worthy of both child and adult. Recommended without hesitation!
Nordic Hero Tales from the Kalevala
Illustrated by N. C. Wyeth
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One of the finest collections of stories from the Finnish epic, the Kalevala, Nordic Hero Tales is filled with heroes, rivals, maidens, gods and goddesses. Centered on the sampo, the magical artifact around which the epic revolves in much the same way as the Ring features in both Wagner's opera cycle and Tolkien's Lord of the Ring, these stories speak of the classic struggle of good against evil in ways that are still alive and meaningful today.
Highly recommended for ages 9 and older.
Viking Gods and Heroes
Told by E. M. Wilmot-Buxton
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This captivating collection of stories handed down centuries ago from the hardy people of the Far North tells of handsome gods, lovely goddesses, giants and dwarfs who lived in a land dominated by fire and ice. Twenty-five astonishing tales, just right as an extension of the Waldorf 4th grade (9 year olds), recall the dramatic creation of earth, sea, and sky and the chilling struggles between titans, trolls, and mighty heroes.
Ages 9 and older.
Norse Mythology and the Modern Human Being
Translated by Rudolf Copple
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This is a valuable study of a mythology that has as much to do with the future of human evolution as it does with these old stories of the Norse gods. Uehli moves systematically through the major figures in this ancient saga, reflecting on the deeper meaning and showing why they are so valuable for children, especially those in the fourth grade. It will provide insight for teachers, parents, and other adults who hope to answer some of the life questions of today.
Tales from the Kalevala
A Prose Rendering
Translated by Hartmut Schiffer
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Tales from the Kalevala is another one of those books that I have heard so very many people ask for over the years: "Is there a Kalevala in English that tells the story in a way I can use in the classroom/to teach my children?" Now I can answer "yes" - and it is a lovely, well-told tale indeed.
Rudolf Steiner recognized the stories of the Kalevala as having the clearest pictures of an earlier phase of human soul development. He also said that in addition to telling us much about the particular experiences of life in Northern Europe, the stories also offer insights into humanity's earlier time on Earth as well as glimpses of our future development. Steiner went so far as to say that he believed the Kalevala would become as important in the future as the stories of Ancient Greece have been in the past.
The Kalevala is used in the 4th grade curriculum in Waldorf Education. Irmgard Burtscher is a class teacher in Liechtenstein who prepared this prose version of the stories to help other teachers present them to their students. Schiffer's translation brings these robust tales to our door with an English that is at once modern, yet retains the flavor of the ancient world. Do enjoy!
The Prose Edda
Tales from Norse Mythology
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For adults wishing to explore in English an original source of Norse Mythology, this prose version of the old sagas is a wonderful resource. The language is smooth and vivid, yet retains a flavor of an older time, when gods still strode among men.
You'll find warrior queens and noble heroes battling with elves, dwarfs and monsters. Spanning the dawn of the world's creation to its fiery destruction, the Edda chronicles the triumphs and tragedies of a lost era.
Savor this one - then share the stories that live in your heart with children ages 9 and older.
Thorkill of Iceland
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King Gorm of Denmark sends the hero Thorkill of Iceland on a mission to the land of the Giants. Thorkill's enemies plan for him never to return from this journey. Thorkill's adventurous success is told with Isabel Wyatt's characteristic touch of drama and beauty. Included also in Thorkill of Iceland is the story of The Dream of King Alfdan, in which Prince Guthorm loses his inheritance after his father Sigurd is Banished from the Norwegian court and endures many adventures before fulfilling his destiny. Perfect for your adventurous 4th grader!
The Story of Rolf
A Viking Adventure
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Rolf, a young and determined Viking bowman, faces many dangers after he vows to pursue and bring to justice the men responsible for his father's death. Set in ancient Iceland, Allen French's suspense-filled novel pits Christian fighters against pagan warriors during the early years of Christianity.
Ages 9 and older.
East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon
The Complete, Unabridged Edition by George Webbe Dasent
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I have been wanting to write about this collection for some time. It is an old, classic collection of Scandinavian folk and fairy tales, on a par with that of the Brothers Grimm and originally published in 1888. Many of you have probably heard of it or even read it.
I've been wanting to say two things about it, the first of which is that the fairy tales I remember most vividly from my own childhood are those that I read to myself in 4th grade (that year, I did a lot of story reading while I was supposed to be doing math problems). It turns out that all of them came from an abridged version of East o' the Sun. Most especially, I remember "Katie Woodencloak" and "Tatterhood," but there are several others that live on in warm places in my heart also.
More importantly, and beyond simply wanting to share with you a lovely slice of my past, I want to tell you what I've discovered in dipping into this treasure house of stories: namely, that this collection more than any other I know is comprised of what are clearly post-Christian stories. There is an element of hardship and redemption that plays out in these tales in ways no other region's tales have done. Mother Mary even appears in at least one of them ("The Lassie and Her Godmother").
As such, this collection can hold a unique place in the context of the goals of Waldorf education. I think it can become a wonderful counterpoint during the 4th grade to presentation of the Norse Myths. This is a time when the Norse gods resemble very much the children: a bit more in possession of their (rather raucous) power than they are capable of self-control. The tumultuous tales of Loki and Baldur and Thor are just right for that age, and so we teach them. But were we to add some of the stories in East o' the Sun, we would be giving our children pictures of what the coming out of this chaos and into the more fully human can look like, and Who it might be that accompanies us. It would allow the students to recapture some of their delight from first grade, but in an older and wiser form. I think it would enhance the developmental effect of the Norse myths and offer a heartfelt image of the paths we walk on earth.
I should add that because of the perspective and content of these tales, I recommend them for children 9 years and older, not for the younger ones.
Sticks Across the Chimney
A Story of Denmark
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When young Siri, Erik, and their widowed mother buy a deserted farm with an ancient Viking grave mound on the land, they have no idea of the challenges and adventures that await them. First they must use their wits and humor to survive without money, as well as deal with superstitious townspe0ple. Later they participate in mysterious and exciting events that lead to the opening of the mound and the discovery of unbelievably ancient Viking treasures.
The interweaving of an exciting mystery and the adventures of surviving on the farm with tales of Danish Viking life and lore is irresistible to both children and adults. Brought back for all of us after too many years out of print, this is a book to welcome warmly back into our homes, classrooms and hearts!
Sticks across the Chimney is a wonderful addition to any child's library and an exceptional book to offer 4th graders during the Nordic myths blocks of the Waldorf curriculum.
The Gate Swings In
A Story of Sweden
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The Gate Swings In is a lovely companion to Burglon's Sticks Across the Chimney. I love the ruggedness and ingenuity of the characters in this story - there is a warm self-discipline and love of the land that shines through the story in evocative, inspiring ways that are sure to move young hearts in wholesome directions.
The central character is Minda, an inspiring young heroine. Together with her intelligent, crafty goat, she goes out to earn enough money for her winter schooling. Throughout her efforts, she has frequent talks with a wise Tomte (Swedish farm elf/gnome - see The Tomten and The Tomten and the Fox) and shows herself to have the fortitude to move ahead in the midst of all kinds of struggles and hardships. At each turn, friendship and love of the land and animals open paths and inspire new directions.
Very highly recommended - especially good in conjunction with the Waldorf Grade 4 curriculum, but wonderful for children of all ages at other times, too.