Traditional Literature



Traditional Literature is also referred to as Folklore or folk Literature.It encompasses the rituals, customs, superstitions, and manners of a particular group that are passed orally or in writing from one generation to the next.  It is described as being “a window through which children in today’s world may view cultures of long ago.”  The retellings of a tale may differ from the tale due to the oral traditions.  The picture book versions of traditional literature list the story as being told by, retold by, etc.  There is no actual author. 

There are sub-genres that make up traditional literature.  These sub genres are:

  1. Animal Stories: Deals with Anthropomorphism
  2. Trickster Tales:  The story revolves around a trickster, someone who gets others in trouble
  3. Pourquoi Tales:  The story explains why something happens
  4. Tall Tales:  Highly exaggerated stories, typical American tales
  5. Cumulative Tales:  Composed of repeated lines and additional lines
  6. Fairytales:  Magical stories
  7. Numbskull or Droll Tales:  Stories of fools and idiots 
  8. Folktales:  Folktales are tied to and reflect a particular culture. 
  9.  Fables:  A form of animal tale in which animals portray human virtues and vices to convey a moral message
  10. Ghost Stories:  An example of a living folktale, told from person to person with each telling adapted to the occasion.
  11. Myths:  Stories of gods, goddesses, and heroes of a given culture.  They explain the origins of customs and social beliefs
  12. Epics and Heroic Legends:  Grew out of mythology, but humans became the heroes
  13. Saint’s Lives and Local Legends:  Recounting of apocryphal tales of the lives and miracles of saints


 *  The story should be appropriate to the developmental age of the children

*  The oral storytelling style of the original tale should be preserved in the book

*  The integrity of the original culture of the tale should be retained

*  The illustrated versions of traditional tales should be of high quality and provide assistance in interpreting the story, plot, characters and theme



*  Provides entertainment

*  Contains the rich heritage of a story

*  Tells stories of the human experience

*  Kindles the imagination

*  Serves as the building blocks for contemporary literature/framework for literature

*  Provides a window on diverse cultures

*  Carries on the strong oral tradition of storytelling

*  Provides moral models for children as the struggle between good and evil is applied to incidents in their own lives

Subject Guide

Web Resources