Folk Tales For Kids
Folk tales form an integral part of early childhood education for all children. Check here to read what is folk tales and how folktales help children learn important moral lessons.
Below list is a collection of some of the all-time popular folktales with morals. There are also tales from Africa, India among other regions. In the end, there are links for region-specific folk tales and also a collection of fables, and fairy tales for children.
Also Read: Fascinating folktales books for kids | Children’s books with moral
23 Famous Folk Tales with Morals for Kids
Popular Folk tales with Morals for Kids
Straightening a Curly Hair
This folk tale from India reminds everyone to think hard before wishing for something. Be careful of what you wish for. Finally, some problems require out-of-the-box thinking.
The landlord in this story – wished for a servant who would do all the tasks without any payment in return. He got a Brahmarakshas (giant) after months of incantation. The Brahmarakshas could do a hundred men’s work at once. However, he needed to be kept occupied all the time. Otherwise, if no work, the Brahmarakshas would eat the landlord himself. There was just not enough work to give. Finally, the intelligence of the landlord’s wife saved the day.
Robin Hood story
Robin hood is an outlaw from the original English folk tales. As per the legend – when greedy Prince John became the King of England, he started taxing the people of Nottingham heavily. Poor subjects became even poorer.
Robin hood took up arms, started looting the Sherriff and other tax collectors. He would take back the tax money and other valuables collected by the Sherriff and distribute his loot to the poor. People started recognizing and respecting him for his good deed and helpful nature. He was also said to be an excellent archer and swordsman.
The Robin hood story teaches that the core of moral value is – empathy and compassion for others. For that reason, even an outlaw is remembered as one of the most moral characters of folk tales.
This famous short story is part of popular folktales from Europe. The moral of the folk tale teaches us how one can turn the situation to one’s advantage using the presence of mind. Also, greed can make people blind to the obvious.
A tramp was looking for food. But the lady of the house refused to give him any, stating she has none to offer. The tramp then came up with a quick solution of stone soup which interested the lady. Read here to know how the stone soup is made.
The Fisherman and His Wife
This famous folk tale originated in Germany and is retold and narrated in many languages around the world. The Moral of the story is – greed has no end and ultimately becomes the cause of destruction.
A fisherman caught a talking fish once, who claimed to be an enchanted prince. The fisherman let the fish go back to the water. However, the fisherman’s wife kept sending the fisherman back to the sea repeatedly, asking for one thing or other from the talking fish. She needed more and more, every time she got something. She finally got a fitting reply for her never-ending greed.
Little Red Riding Hood
This famous children’s folktale is written by the Grimm brothers and has entertained generations of children since. The moral of the story reminds us all to value traditional knowledge and respect the cautions of the elderly. It also warns us of the potential danger of an unknown road.
Originally titled Little Red Cap, this story narrates how a young girl fell prey to a wolf’s greed, after she ventured through the woods, without heeding advice from her elders. The story has a happy ending with the wolf learning a lesson.
This children’s folk tale is from Japan. It reminds us that, through our narrow minds, we end up seeing the world the way we want it to be. One needs to broaden the horizon and look around to see the real world.
Two frogs come from two very different parts of the city. They set out to explore the place beyond where they live. Their path crossed, and they devised a plan to take a peek pf the place they are planning to go. The story narrates what happens next.
Jack and the Beanstalk
One of the most popular folktales – Jack and the Beanstalk, encourages all to have inquisitive minds. Also, to climb up when the opportunity arises. For success comes to only those who try hard.
A poor boy Jack got five Beanstalks from a stranger on the way, in exchange, for his cow. He believed in the magical power of the beanstalk. When the time came, he climbed up the vine till he reached a palace. There, his actions helped him get many valuables. He and his mother became wealthy beyond imagination.
This folktale teaches kids that – they should always appreciate what they have. The other side might look greener, but it may always not be so.
The stonecutter in this story wished to be a rich man, and his wish was granted. Once a prince, he realized that the sun is mightier, so he longed to be the sun. However, he was still not happy, as the clouds made the sun disappear. So he became the cloud. And so on it went. Finally, he realized the importance of being a stonecutter and came back to his true self.
The Ugly Duckling
The Ugly duckling, written by Hans Christian Anderson, has been part of popular children’s folktales for generations. The moral of the story tells us that we all are different and beautiful in our own way. It is futile to try to fit in with the herd. Everyone has their place on earth.
A duck hatched a batch of eggs, amongst which was a swan egg. All the other ducklings came out looking normal. The swan baby came out looking different and ugly. The ugly swan baby tried to fit in with different groups, but no one understood its worth. Until one day, when it was time for the swan to develop fully to its potential.
Why the Ocean Is Salty
This folk tale from the Philippines narrates the story of why sea water is salty.
Indian Folk tales with Morals for Kids
Tenali Rama Folk tales
Tenali Rama was an Indian scholar, advisor in the court of King Krishnadevaraya. He was a Telugu poet, known for his wittiness. Tenali Rama stories are part of popular folk tales in India. The stories are funny and always have a moral at the end.
The Tenali Rama stories teach readers that one can use wit and humor to come out of any tricky situation.
Akbar Birbal Folk tales
Akbar was an emperor of Mughal-ruled India, and Birbal was part of his court. While Akbar enjoyed testing Birbal’s intelligence with tricky questions, Birbal always came out the winner with a suitable answer.
Here is a collection of Akbar Birbal stories. The stories are funny, thought-provoking, with a beautiful moral about right and wrong in the end.
The Akbar Birbal folk tales have enlightened generations of children for hundreds of years in India.
Vikram Vetal Folk tales
King Vikramaditya of India was asked to capture and bring the corpse of Betal. However, each time he picked up the corpse, it started telling a story with a riddle in the end. The correct answer took the corpse back to its place. The king runs after it and brings Betal down, starts walking. Betal starts telling another story. And the cycle repeats.
The Betal Vikram short stories are part of famous Indian folklores. The riddle at the end of the story, tests the moral, empathy, intelligence, etc of the listener. A good way to test the understanding of right and wrong.
African Folktales for Kids with Morals
Anansi Goes Fishing
This African folktale narrates one story of Anansi. Anansi tried to make a fool of one fisherman. But the fisherman caught the wind of it and beat Anansi at his game instead.
The story explains how excessive greed makes one blind.
Why Turtles Live In Water
This popular folklore from West Africa tells why turtles started living in the water. Once a clever turtle was caught by hunters. However, the turtle tricked the group of men to release it into the water. Thus the intelligent turtle saved its own life.
The Gift of a Cow Tail Switch
A moral lesson on human value retold in this folktale from West Africa. When a warrior died, everyone in his family gave up on him and accepted his death, except his youngest son. The son kept asking for his father, which eventually brought the dead back.
The moral of the story, as narrated is – a person lives through other people’s memories.
One Good Meal Deserves Another
In this folktale, a turtle teaches a lesson to a Spider, who would not share.
Arabian Folktales for Kids with Morals
Alibaba and Forty Thieves
Alibaba and forty thieves story is part of popular Arabian folklore. It narrates how a poor man Alibaba discovered the hidden treasure of the bandits and became rich. When the bandits came to know about it, they tried to kill Alibaba. However, each time the intelligence of his one servant saved him.
The story has many lessons woven into it. Too much greed causes one’s downfall. Honesty pays. And faithfulness and kindness is a virtue.
Aladin and his magic lamp is the story of how a poor boy Aladin’s fate changed when he got a magic lamp. The lamp had a genie inside, who would follow the orders of Aladin and get whatever Aladin wished. Aladin, on his part, never became too greedy and misused the genie.
Sindbad the Sailor
Sindbad the sailor, is a popular Arabian folktale character. The story narrates how Sindbad survived ship wreckage in the middle of the ocean. And finally returned home by sheer virtue of his bravery.
Short Funny Folk tales for Kids
Nasreddin Hodja at a Bridal Festival
This funny story is from the collection of popular Turkish folklore. Nasreddin Hodja was famous for his wittiness. Once, he was invited to a bridal function. However, the function organizers did not pay him proper respect looking at his not-so-rich clothes. Nasreddin taught them a lesson in a funny way – people’s worth should not be measured by the clothes they wear.
The Simpleton with Ten Asses
This funny story is of a foolish person, who misses counting the donkey he is riding each time. Thus, afraid that he would lose the donkey again, he stops riding the donkey, and instead covers the remaining distance on foot.
Other Nasreddin Hodja Stories
Here is bunch of funny Nasreddin Hodja stories for kids.
Folk tales for each Region
- African folktales
- Spanish folktale
- Chinese folktales
- Nigerian folktales
- European folktales
- Japanese folktales
- Native American folktales
- Indian folktales
- Swedish folktale
Other Fairy Tales, Fables
- Fairy Tales for Kids
- Aesop’s Fables
- Panchatantra stories for Kids
What is a folktale
Folk tales are stories that are passed on orally through generations. They are part of the culture of a place. Every region has its own tales. Indian folktales, African folktales, English folktales, Arabian tales, Turkish tales are few examples of folktales originating in that respective region.
What lessons do folktales teach?
Folk tales almost always have a moral attached to the story. They are used to teach discipline to the children and help them understand right and wrong behavior. Folk tales are also used to pass down ancient wisdom and knowledge through generations. The story form helps thoroughly explain difficult things.