Fairy Tales, Myths, Tall Tales,
Fables, and Legends
Reading with Mrs. Siebener
What is folk literature and how do I define, analyze and
Fairy Tales Myths Legends Tall Tales
A fairy tale is a story featuring folkloric
characters such as fairies, goblins, elves,
trolls, giants, and others. These stories
often involve princes and princesses, and
modern versions usually have a happy
ending. Usually fairy tales start with
“Once upon a time..”
How many fairy tales have you read? Can
you name 3?
Click here for examples: Fairy Tales for
children or Fairy Tales by Hans Christian
What is a Myth?
Myths deal with ancient stories, such as the adventures
of the Greek gods. Mythology is a collection of
traditional stories that express the beliefs or values of
a group of people. The stories often focus on human
qualities such as good and evil.
They are often considered to be sacred and may
explain how things came to be. The myths gave human
emotions and qualities to the super- natural beings
who were the heroes of their stories. These gods and
goddesses helped or harmed mankind as they pleased.
A tall tale is a story that has these features:
A larger-than-life, or superhuman, main character with a specific
A problem that is solved in a funny way.
Exaggerated details that describe things as greater than they
Characters who use everyday language.
Settlers who made their homes in the American wilderness
first told tall tales. In those days, before TV and movies, people
depended on storytelling for entertainment. After a long day's
work, people gathered to tell each other funny tales.
Each group of workers- loggers, cowboys, railroad and steel
workers-had its own tall-tale hero. Having a superhuman hero with
the same job somehow made their lives easier. Perhaps it gave
them strength or courage to do their difficult and dangerous work.
Animated Tall Tales
Read about these tall tales: Paul Bunyan,
Johnny Appleseed, Pecos Bill
Legends are set in the present or recent
past. Legends are supposedly true and
are used to scare, teach, inform, or
entertain. Legends are stories that are
handed down through generations-
usually by word of mouth. Examples:
Legend of King Arthur and the Knight’s of
the Round Table, Robin Hood,
Just what is a fable, you ask? Well, a fable is a kind of story that:
has animal characters that are smart, foolish, sly, or clever
has a character that plays tricks on other characters
has a character that makes a bad decision
has a moral or a lesson learned
is short, sweet and to the point
Click here to read some of Aesop’s fables.
Click here to watch some animated
versions of Aesop’s fables.