Legends and Folklore
The Recommended Reading section of the Young Readers curriculum is organized
differently from that of the other Heritage Classical Curriculums.
Instead of requiring that students read three or four specific books as their
core reading assignment, we suggest that students read at least one book
from each of the five categories listed below.
The books recommended here represent the some of the most substantial general
histories in the Young Readers collection. Most of our books are biographies,
legends, or history stories that cover only a single topic and there are
no "comprehensive" histories in the entire collection. Nevertheless, we
recommend that students read a few of these collections of history stories in
order to gain breadth. Additional selections can be made from the
complete list of the books on the
Books Summaries page.
American History Selections
The American histories listed below cover much of the same material,
but each takes a different approach to presenting the major events and
characters. We recommend that all students, before graduating from the
Young Readers collection, familiarize themselves with at least one of
the following books. Great Americans for Little Americans is
a short, simplified introduction to famous Americans, Pratt's American
History Stories series is the closest we have to a comprehensive
American history text, and America First is an especially good
choice for family read-aloud.
Great Americans for Little Americans by Edward Eggleston
This book is a popular introduction to American history for very young readers. It
contains dozens of simply told stories of warriors, statesmen, explorers, scientists,
inventors, men and women of letters, and other famous Americans. Featured are Marquette in
Iowa, Penn and the Indians, Thomas Smith and the beginning of rice culture in South
Carolina, Franklin and the ants, Putnam and the wolf, and dozens of other stories. The
collection of sketches features inspirational stories as well as short histories.
America First by Lawton Evans
This delightful collection of stories from America's past recounts one
hundred interesting and romantic incidents from America's history, and
provides character sketches of dozens of early American heroes and
heroines. It makes no attempt to relate or explain complicated government
issues, and does not provide a chronological or comprehensive account,
but instead focuses on stories of great human interest, and reads like
a book of fairy tales.
American History Stories: Vol I-IV by Mara L. Pratt
This four volume series is a very simple history of the United States
from its colonial age to the end of the civil war. It was written for
grammar school children and relates American history through short stories,
character sketches, poems and songs. The first volume covers the landing
of Columbus through the French and Indian Wars. The second relates the
Revolutionary War period in detail. The third covers the time from the
end of the Revolutionary War to the middle of the 19th century, and the
fourth focuses on the years before, during, and after the civil war.
European History Selections
Within the Heritage History online library, the field of European history
is broken up into several divisions—Britain, Spain, Western Europe, and
Eastern Europe—since each of these regions have distinctive cultures.
As far as Young Readers are concerned, however, these cultures can all
be considered as one European Civilization. European History is too
complicated to summarize in a meaningful way for young readers, but
the following books provide anecdotes from history that introduce some
of the leading characters of Europe.
Old Time Tales by Lawton Evans
This collection of over forty stories and legends from history are
related by a master-story teller. They are perfect for reading individually,
or aloud to younger children. Most of the stories are from European
History and include both legends and folklore, and history stories.
Well known stories, such as William Tell, Joan of Arc, and the
death of Roland are told as well as lesser known classics such as
"The Mouse Tower", "Dmitri the Pretender", and "Berth of the Big Foot".
Stories from English History by Hilda Skae
This book recounts six stories from English history, beginning with
that of the Celtic hero Caradoc, and ending with Sir Francis Drake.
Other tales include the story of Augustine of Kent and the conversion
of the Saxons to Christianity, William the Conqueror and the Battle of
Hastings, King John and the murder of his rival Prince Arthur, and
the story of the Black Prince at Crecy and Poitiers.
Stories from French History by Lena Dalkeith
This beautifully illustrated book tells seven of the most picturesque
stories from the History of France. They include the story of Clovis
and his Queen Clotilda, Charlemagne, Saint Louis, the Crusader, Joan
of Arc, the Huguenots and the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, the
French Revolution and Marie Antoinette, and Napoleon Bonaparte.
Another approach to European history that sometimes appeals to young
people is to read folklore and adapted literature. Most of the books in
the Legends and Adapted Literature categories are European in origin.
The Little Cousin from Long Ago and Twins of the World Series
also feature historical fiction that introduces young students to
various European cultures.
Ancient History Selections
Once Young Readers are ready to learn "real" comprehensive history,
the Heritage program recommends that they begin by studying Ancient
Greece and Roman History. There are a variety of reasons that Ancient
history is especially attractive to younger students. It is not
surprising therefore, that several of the following books are also
recommended as "beginner" core books in the Ancient Greece Classical
Stories from Greek History by Ethelwyn Lemon
In this short, but beautifully told book, only six of the many
inspiring stories from Geek History could be told. They include
the story of Solon, the law-giver of Athens, Themistocles and
the battle of Salamis, Pelopidas and Epaminondas and the Boeotian
Wars, Timoleon and the liberation of Sicily, Demosthenes, the
orator of Athens, and Alexander the Great.
Stories from Roman History by Lena Dalkeith
This short book tells stories of several of the most famous characters
of Roman History. Included are Heroes of the early republic: Horatius
and Coriolanus; Heroes of the Punic and Macedonian Wars: Hannibal,
Fabius Maximus, Paulus Amelius, and Scipio Africanus; and leading
men of the Late republic: the Gracchi, Pompey, Julius Caesar. Each
story is told in simple terms but engaging terms.
Stories from the Iliad by Jeanie Lang
This short version of Homer’s Iliad is part of the Told to the Children
series. It is very short, very well written, and recounted in a suitable
manner for younger children. The action begins with the story of Helen
and Paris and ends with the death of Hector. The story of the Trojan
horse and the fall of Troy is not included.
Aesop's Fables by Milo Winter
This beautifully illustrated version of Aesop's fables is one of the most popular renditions
of Aesop’s Fables ever published. It is just as delightful for adults and older children
as it is for beginning readers, and like much of the other literature that descends to
us from Ancient Greece, reminds us of the sophisticated wisdom of the classical sages.
An alternative to introducing younger students to Ancient History is to
focus on Greek Mythology and historical fiction. The Ancient Greece
Compact Library includes a good selection of mythology that is
appropriate for young readers. The folklore of Ancient Greece is of
outstanding interest to youngsters and is often better appreciated by
younger children than by preoccupied teenagers.
Bible and Saint Stories
The stories of the Bible, simplified for children, are perfectly suited to
young readers. Many Biblical characters are icons of western civilization
who symbolize universal virtues, vices and moral difficulties. The essential
morals of the stories are well understood even by grammar school students.
The early years are a perfect time to focus on Biblical history so students
will have a clear idea of Christian values before they embark on a serious,
comprehensive study of world history.
The Nursery Book of Bible Stories by Amy Steedman
This beautifully illustrated book retells many of the most famous
stories from the bible, especially those most appealing to youngsters.
It includes twenty-four stories from the Old Testament and twelve
stories from the New Testament, each told in the manner of a children’s tale.
The pictures that accompany these Bible stories are outstanding.
Heroes of Israel by Lawton Evans
This collection of ninety Bible stories cover the entire Old Testament from Genesis to
Nehemiah, and was authored by a master story teller. It recounts the stories from
the Bible most suitable for youngsters in beautiful prose. The illustrations are few,
but of extraordinary quality.
God's Troubadour by Sophie Jewett
This story relates how a gay, courtly young soldier, who grew up amid wealth and
privilege became a knight of Jesus Christ. After he had a vision went on a pilgrimage
he gave up earthly ambitions and vowed devotion to Lady Poverty. He founded the
Franciscan order of monks and proved himself a 'little brother' to all men, and a
friend even to the birds and beasts. It is a charming tale and a
Like the stories of the Bible, the stories of saints tell clearly how
God continues to work in the lives of his people. Some saints, like
Joan of Arc and St. Patrick, are important as national heroes as well
as Christian heroes, while others are known primarily for their
Christian virtues. The stories of a few saints, such as St. George
and St. Christopher, are more legend than fact. In all cases, however,
the life stories of Christian heroes are a testament to the role of
faith and the spiritual reality of human existence.
Legends and Folklore
Most youngsters need little encouragement to legends. A legend is simply
a popular children’s story that has been told so many times over the
ages that it takes on a life of its own. Many famous children’s legends
have some shadowy connection to real historical characters and others
are rooted in primitive religious stories. In either case, legendary
characters are a staple of regional folklore and helpful in understanding
the character and ideals of civilizations.
Stories of Robin Hood Told to the Children by H. E. Marshall
This lively retelling of the Stories of Robin Hood chronicles the events of the time in
which Robin Hood lived, while the heroic Richard the Lion-hearted was absent from England
and the kingdom was under the rule of his devious brother. The story recounts how and why
he came to live in the Greenwood, and the adventures he had there with Little John, Maid
Marian, and the Sheriff of Nottingham in a manner attractive to youngsters.
Stories of Siegfried Told to the Children by Mary Macgregor
Siegfried is the central character of a legend that is based on the Nibelung,
an old German poem. The epic is filled with of strange adventures of tiny
dwarves and stalwart mortals. In this retelling, Siegfried wins the accursed
Rhineland treasure, takes Kriemhild as bride, and comes to an untimely end,
passing the curse of the Rhinegold on to his enemies.
Stories of Roland Told to the Children by H. E. Marshall
Roland was the nephew of Charlemagne and the most famous of his knights. The
stories from this book tell of incidents near the end of the hero’s life,
as told by the Epic poem, the Song of Roland. The story recounts the incidents
at the Battle of Roncesvalles in which Oliver and Roland were killed. It
also tells of the treachery of Ganelon, Charlemagne’s ultimate revenge, and
the death of the traitor.
The Young Readers library includes several volumes of "Adapted Literature"
as well as legends. In each case the author has rendered a classic from
literature in simple enough terms to be enjoyed by a young reader. There
isn’t necessarily a clear distinction between legends, folklore, and adapted
literature since ancient folklore has often made its way into classical
literature and visa versa.
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