Why Butterflies Can’t Fly Straight

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Why Butterflies Can’t Fly Straight

Retold from a Tewa Indian Legend

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One day Coyote’s wife wanted to do some cooking. She needed salt for the food she was making. She asked coyote, her husband, who was taking one of his many naps to go to the salty lake and fill a bag with some salt crystals from the shore. The lake was a long walk from […]

A tale from the Seneca Tribe of the Northeast Woodlands When the world was new, long ago, an old man wandered about the earth. He had long white hair and wherever he stepped the ground froze and became hard as stone. When he breathed the river stopped flowing and the ponds became ice. Plants dried […]

A folktale from India One day Sun, Moon, and Wind went out to dine with their uncle and aunts Thunder and Lightning. Their mother (one of the most distant Stars you see far up in the sky) waited alone for her children’s return. Now both Sun and Wind were greedy and selfish. They enjoyed the […]

The Collared Crow

A tale from Africa

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Once upon a time there were a man and his wife who had lived together for years, but they had no children to look after them in their old age. This was very sad for them, but they had no idea what to do about it. You can neither make nor order children, nor do […]

The Magic Pomegranate

As retold by Peninnah Schram in the book Jewish Stories One Generation Tells Another

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Once there were three brothers who loved adventure. One day they decided to go on a journey, each one to a different country, and to meet again on a certain day ten years later. Each brother was to bring back with him an unusual gift. The oldest brother decided to go to the East. When […]

The Star Talers

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

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Once upon a time there was a little girl whose father and mother had died, and she was so poor that she no longer had a room to live in, nor a bed to sleep in, and at last she had nothing else but the clothes she was wearing and a little piece of bread […]

Beautiful Fanta-Ghiro

This story was retold by Jesterbear from a Tuscan folktale collected by Italo Calvino Italian Folktales (1956), translated into English by George Martin (1980)

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In olden times, there was a king who had no sons, but only two beautiful daughters. The oldest was named Assuntina, and the youngest was Fanta-Ghiro. The king, who was always sick and irritable, and stayed shut up in his room the whole day long. He had three chairs–a sky blue chair, a black chair, […]

A Trickster Tale with Roots in America, the West Indies and Africa Was a time, these two breathed the same air. Only, Wren sat his chattering self on the fence rail. And Bruh Buzzard, he soared way high in the sky. Each could see the other. Wren could look up and see the buzzard shape […]

Plowing the Road

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A tale of elder wisdom from Romania In olden times in some distant country the young folk had come together and decided to get rid of the old men. They did not want their wisdom and their advice, for they were just as clever. They had lived their lives, and that was an end of […]

A Tale from Mexico Once Senor Rattlesnake was taking his afternoon nap out on the hot sand, next to the hole that led down to his cool nest. Suddenly a large stone came rolling down the mountainside and landed on top of him! He wiggled and squirmed and pushed and rolled, but it was no […]

The Tongue-Cut Sparrow

A tale of empathy and greed from Japan

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Once upon a time there lived an old man and an old woman. The old man, who had a kind heart, kept a young sparrow, which he tenderly nurtured. But the dame was a cross-grained old thing; and one day, when the sparrow had pecked at some paste with which she was going to starch […]

A Native American Folktale Mahto was a very small bear when he came into this world. He was born in a cave deep within the earth and was not big enough to harm anybody. His mother called him Mahtociqala in the language of the people. When his mother awoke from her long sleep, she took […]

Thanks to drummer Stephen Sharpe and Laurie Loeb for passing on this African folktale Once upon a time, in Africa, the rains didn’t fall one year. So the plants and trees didn’t grow food, so all the animals were very hungry. Now there were four animal friends who remembered there was a magic tree in […]

The Three Dolls

A Persian folk tale as retold by David Heathfield

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The Sultan of Persia was a clever man – well read. And there was nothing he loved more than solving problems, puzzles, riddles. One day, he received a parcel; he knew not from whom. He opened that package and found a box. And when he opened the lid of the box, inside were the three […]

The Rich Man’s Guest

A tale from Turkey

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Many years ago there lived a very wise king in a country far from here.  One day while he was out riding he passed a beautiful house. “Who lives in that house?” he asked. “O king,” answered the servant, “the richest man in the country lives there.  He gives the most wonderful feasts every day […]

The Enchanted Camel

as told by Syrian refugee Mahmoud Fares, 30 years old, from Khan el Sheikh Camp 7 who currently resides in Sidon, Lebanon

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Once upon a time there was a woodcutter who made a living from cutting wood in the forest. One day he went there to collect wood and found a big log too heavy for him to carry on his own. He looked to the right and then to the left and saw a camel who […]

A Lenni Lenape tale as retold by S. E. Schlosser It was so cold. Snow fell constantly, and ice formed over all the waters. The animals had never seen snow before. At first, it was a novelty, something to play in. But the cold increased tenfold, and they began to worry. The little animals were […]

The Twelve Dancing Princesses

From the Brothers Grimm

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There was a king who had twelve beautiful daughters. They slept in twelve beds all in one room; and when they went to bed, the doors were shut and locked up; but every morning their shoes were found to be quite worn through as if they had been danced in all night; and yet nobody […]

The Flood Story

A Philippine Folktale

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Once upon a time, when the world was flat and there were no mountains, there lived two brothers, sons of Lumawig, the Great Spirit. The brothers were fond of hunting, and since no mountains had formed there was no good place to catch wild pig and deer, and the older brother said: “Let us cause […]

The Proud Little Apple Blossom

By Hans Christian Andersen (adapted)

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It was the month of May, but the wind still blew cool, for the sun was not yet ready to shed his warmest rays on the waiting earth. Yet some of the birds had come, and more were on their way, and many beautiful blossoms were already showing their pink and white blooms, so that […]

as retold by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss in Children Tell Stories. Katonah, New York: Richard C. Owen Publishers, Inc., 1990 Once there lived a man who was both greedy and sly. If he needed a thing, like a horse or a sheep, he would not work to get it. He would steal it from […]

The Legend of the Dipper

if you have information about the origin of this tale, please let us know

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There was once a little girl who had a dear mother, and they lived, quite alone, in a little house in the woods. They were always very happy, but one day the mother grew so ill that it seemed as if she could never be strong and well again. “I must have a drink of […]

Why the Leaves Have Many Colors in Autumn

A Wyandot (Huron) Legend

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Bear was selfish and proud. He often made trouble among the Animals of the Great Council. When he heard that Deer had walked over the Rainbow Bridge into the sky land he was angry. “I will punish the deer,” he said. Bear went to the Rainbow Bridge. He leaped along its beautiful way of glowing […]

Why the Evergreen Trees Keep Their Leaves in Winter

if you have information about the origin of this tale, please let us know

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One day, a long, long time ago, it was very cold; winter was coming and all the birds had flown south to wait for spring. But there was one little bird who had a broken wing and could not fly. He just did not know what to do. He looked all around to see if […]


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