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Myths, Legends and Fables: Helping Kids Decipher the Difference

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What is the difference between a myth, legend, or fable? Learning the difference can be quite tricky when you are a child learning literature in school. Tall tales, fables, fairy tales, legends, myths and folktales are sometimes used interchangeably, and that can be confusing. The children’s literature terms are described below with an example of each.

  • A tall tale is a funny, exaggerated story about the life of frontiersmen in America around the 1800s. Tall tales became popular in the twentieth century. An example of a tall tale is Davy Crockett.
  • A fable is a story that teaches a lesson and is usually about animals that talk and act like humans. The Tortoise and the Hare is a great example of a fable.
  • A fairy tale is an oral tradition that has been passed down and told in cultures around the world involving magical characters and events. Cinderella is an example of a fairy tale.
  • A legend is a particular type of folktale that is told as if it is true in a historical text. The stories take place in human history and seem to be understandable and believable. King Arthur is an example of a legend.
  • A myth is a story that is passed on from one generation to another that explains how the world is the way it is. Myths also discuss how the world was created. An example of a myth is The Iliad by Homer.
  • A folktale is a type of story that has been passed on from many generations that started from people who tell the stories over time and usually do not have just one author. The stories can include subjects about life, heroes, villains, and usually teach a lesson. The Arabian Nights is an example of a folktale.

The following titles are available through Hoopla and our Library’s website.

Don’t have a library card? You can get one online by registering here!


The following are available as eBook titles to check out:



Aladdin and Other Favorite Arabian Nights Stories by Philip Smith

Tales From The Arabian Nights by Various Author

Stories from the Arabian Nights by Laurence Housman

Arabian Nights by Kate Douglas Wiggin

The Arabian Nights Entertainments by Andrew Lang



Cinderella by C. S. Evans

Cinderella by Kinuko Y. Craft

Cinderella by Nadia Higgins

A Modern Cinderella by Louisa May Alcott

Cinderella Picture Book by Walter Crane



The Boy Who Cried Wolf & Other Aesop Fables by Leah Osei

Aesop’s Fables In Rhyme for Little Philosophers by John Martin

The Aesop for Children (Aesop’s Fables for Children) by Aesop

Aesop’s Fables with Colin Hay by Tom Graves

Aesop’s Favorite Fables by Various Authors



Tales of King Arthur by Henry Gilbert

King Arthur by Andrew Lang

Stories of King Arthur by A. L. Haydon

King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table by Sidney Lanier

King Arthur by Philip Edwards



Homer’s Iliad by Baby Professor

The Iliad for Boys and Girls by Alfred J. Church

The Iliad & The Odyssey for Boys and Girls by Alfred J. Church


Tall Tales:

Davy Crockett by Nancy Furstinger

Davy Crockett by Emma E. Haldy

Davy Crockett by Diana Herweck

Davy Crockett by William R. Sanford

Davy Crockett by Russell Roberts


Here a few additional resources:

Explore this collection of items: Understanding Fairy Tales Old and New on PBS Learning Media.

Watch videos about fables: Aesop’s Fables on PBS Learning Media.

Watch two folktales: Folktales of the World on PBS Learning Media.