Tales from India and Asia

Folktales from India

A Selection of Oral Tales from 22 Languages

Edited and with an Introduction by A.K. Ramanujan



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I know of no other collection of folktales from India that is like this one - stories taken truly from the oral traditions of many groups and retold with an integrity that conveys so much life that I repeatedly find myself hearing the voice of the storyteller as I read them. For me, this collection is an exciting "find" - something I didn't know I wanted but now can't imagine never having had.

These are the types of fairy tales and folktales that explain the world around us - they reveal the types of people in the world, the way the spiritual world intermingles with daily life, the difference between what is wise and what only looks wise, and much, much more.

I would love to see more and more children hearing these stories - to me, they are a nectar of life. I would enthusiastically recommend various of these tales for children at several ages - during the "fairy tale years (ca. kindergarten and grade 1), "the fable years" (ca. grade 2), and then again as an enlivening addition to the myths of India (grade 5) as a way of uniting the heaven of the gods with the life of the earth. These tales are good, solid soul food - the kind that uplifts without carrying one off the ground. You'll love them!

Twenty Jataka Tales

Retold by Noor Inayat Khan

Illustrated by H. Willebeek La Mair



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These twenty tales have been drawn from famous legends concerning the former lives of the Buddha. Beloved by children and adults, they tell of people and animals moved to acts of sacrifice by the noble example of their fellow creatures. There is a wonderful interweaving of a sentient creation throughout these stories. The flavor of these stories will remind you of Aesop, as will the lessons they contain which are so beautifully conveyed. These stories are ideal for reading or telling to children - their highly dramatic adventures that resolve in non-violence and compassion are often just exactly what today's children are hungry for. You'll love the exquisite illustrations, also - there is a light delicacy to them that at the same time conveys enormous strength - just right for these tales.

Myths and Legends of Japan

F. Hadland Davis



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Wow. What an amazing collections of stories and delicious cultural/historical tidbits - and retold so very well! Here are the most popular Japanese myths of gods, heroes and warriors; legends of Buddha, and of the goddess Benten and the god Daikoku. There are tales of the sea and of Mount Fuji; accounts of superstitions and supernatural beings; observations on the spiritual properties of fans, flowers, mirrors, dolls and butterflies.

The collection begins with the early myths of the gods, which are followed by legends celebrating early heroes and warriors, and includes the earliest example of Japanese romance, "The Bamboo-Cutter and the Moon-Maiden." Many of the legends that follow reflect an exquisite, poetic beauty, though there are some which also exhibit a rather crude realism -- you'll want to pick and choose where children are to be listening.

The author has included a terrific set of appendices, for those of use not very familiar with Japanese culture: there are notes on Japanese poetry, a listing of gods and goddesses, a geneology of The Age of the Gods and an index of poetical quotations. This is another book that has been brought back from the past - originally published in 1913, it is just as alive and amazing today.

For the Children of the World

Stories and Recipes from the Internatinoal Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education

Louise deForest, Editor

Illustrated by Gudrid Malmsten



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Here is a joyous collection of folktales from around the world, retold from the heart for young children.  In addition to some of the best stories the world's people have to offer, an extra treat is the recipes from many of the cultures that contributed to this rich and wonderful book.  Each recipe was clear chosen to be tasty and wholesome for young children, as well as being simple enough to make while tending our little ones.  Altogether, this is a vibrant collection that evokes love and wonder.  I can't recommend it highly enough.



  • The Name of the Tree (South Africa)


  • Tunjur, Tunjur (Israel)
  • Momotaro, the Peach Boy (Japan)


  • The Little Flame
  • The Little Possum Who Wanted a Peach
  • Time for Bed
  • Where Has Father Sun Gone?
  • Recipe: Peppercorn Birthday Cake


  • The Duckling's Journey (Austria)
  • The Story of the Cat with the Long, Long Tail (Belgium)
  • Tailor Tom (Denmark)
  • Little Ash Squirel and Little Oak Squirrel (France)
  • Turlutin (France)
  • The Lantern (Germany)
  • Speaking Grapes, Smiling Apples and Ringing Peaches (Hungary)
  • The Old Woman and the Little Mouse (Sweden)
  • Sir Cat-O-Puss (Ukraine)
  • The Soupstone Story (United Kingdom)
  • Recipes:  Spitzbuben Cookies, Michaelmas Soup, St. John's Elderflower Drink, Potato Pogatcha, Salty Pretzels, Hot Cross Buns


  • How the Robin Got Its Red Breast (Canada)
  • Tajin and the Seven Thunders (Mexico)
  • The Legend of the Tepozteco (Mexico)
  • The Story of the Jumping Mouse (United States)
  • Recipes: Cree Bannock Bread, Tamales, Birthday Muffins


  • The Magic Stone (Brazil)
  • The Golden Fish and the Magic Star (Brazil)
  • The Little Seed (Brazil)

Also available in the Spanish Edition, Para Los Ninos del Mundo

Myths of the World

Collected and Retold by Padraic Colum



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A treasure house of stories from ancient myth and legend, told by one of Ireland’s greatest storytellers.

“The interest of this book lies in its scope and in the engaging way in which the myths are recounted. Suitable for bedtime reading either to yourself or your children.”

— Scientific and Medical Network

Here is a comprehensive collection of tales that have carried deeply human meaning through the centuries. You will find all the legendary heroes and tragic characters of ancient times—Iris, Osiris, Gilgamesh, Hercules, Pandora, and many more.

Padraic Colum shows the close relationships between past cultures by including stories from ancient Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Rome, Ireland, Iceland, China, Japan, New Zealand, Mexico, and Peru. A feast for the soul!

This classic collection will entertain and enlighten children of all ages.

Great Myths of the World

Selected and Retold by Padraic Colum

Identical to Myths of the World, but in an older typesetting.


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As a tour of the world's great civilizations and the myths that give voice to their cultures, Padraic Colum's stands out as being not only sweeping in scope but beautiful in voice.As a tour of the world's great civilizations and the myths that give voice to their cultures, Padraic Colum's stands out as being not only sweeping in scope but beautiful in voice. Colum has selected what I will call 'keystone myths' from the ancient cultures that have informed our modern world:

Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Post-Christian Judaism, Greece, Rome, Graeco-Rome, the Celtic world, Finland (Kalevala), Iceland, India, China, Japan, Polynesia, Peru, Central America and Mexico, Zuni.

Colum also treats us to his wonderful essay, "The Significance of Mythology."

This one-volume edition carries within its covers more cultural heartbeats and beautiful vision than any other single book I can think of. Great Myths of the World is a book to enjoy throughout a lifetime. In Waldorf education, many of these myths are at the heart of 4th and 5th grade curricula.