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What Is A Folktale?

Ghost Catcher

As award-winning author, Margaret Read MacDonald writes, “A folktale is a story that has been passed from person to person.” Folktales are typically entertaining stories and play a unique role in nurturing a culture’s core values or character traits. These stories also reinforce a shared history and cultural traditions.


There are many forms and genres of folktales that have been passed down from generation to generation through the world’s timeless oral traditions. These classic tales include a wide range of stories such as fables, myths, legends, epic tales, tall tales, fairy tales, and in some cases even scary stories.  


Since folktales have been passed down through the oral tradition, and originally were not written down, they were honed for listening. As a result, folktales are characterized by simple plotlines, characters that are easy to tell apart, and consequences for a character’s decisions. To learn more about these attributes, please go to Common Characteristics of Folktales.

Folktales are generally easier to remember and share so they are ideal for teaching a range of topics in the classroom from reading comprehension and phonics, to story structure and plotlines, to social studies and social/emotion learning. If you want to learn more about how to effectively use folktales in a classroom environment, please consider reading Margaret’s award-winning resource book, Teaching with Story: Classroom Connections to Storytelling.

If you are interested in learning more about the unique contributions that folktales make or how these stories are relevant in today’s world, please go to, Why Folktales Are Important or Folktales for Kids.


August House also provides differentiated lesson plans for over 45 picture books with worksheets and learning activities correlated to the Common Core Standards for Kindergarten through 2nd grade.

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