Celtic Mythology & Irish Legends: Books for Kids
A certain Irish holiday is on its way and you may be thinking it would be nice to share a bit of Celtic mythology or Irish legends with the kids to liven up the celebration. I’ve searched out a few picture books and collections of Celtic and Irish folklore to share with you and there is still plenty of time to pop over to the library to check them out before St. Patrick’s Day. In any case, Irish-American Heritage Month lasts all the way to March 31st. (A note to my dedicated book list followers, I’m taking a short break from early chapter books, but I’ll be back eventually with another list.)
Too Many Fairies: A Celtic Tale. My 4 year old is loving this tale from master storyteller, Margaret Read MacDonald. When a little old lady grumbles over her chores a group of fairies come to relieve her, but they do not turn out to be as much help as they promise! The narrative contains some lovely repetitive devices that encourage listeners to interact with the story and I love that the moral of the tale is don’t complain about your housework!
Tales from Old Ireland (with CD). I looked at a number of story collections for this list, but many of them had illustrations which were too scarey for my kids. That was not the case with this Barefoot Books publication which also comes with 2 CDs. This is the second year we have checked it out from the library and we were sad again that one disc was missing because the boys loved listening to the tales.
Tales from Celtic Lands. A collection of Celtic mythology, not only from Ireland, but also from Scotland, Wales and Brittany, and another good choice if you want to avoid scarey illustrations. It’s also from Barefoot Books (I have no affiliation with them, I promise!) and comes with 2 CDs. I love collections which come with audio files because generally my kids want me to read these thick books straight through!
A Pot o’ Gold: A Treasury of Irish Stories, Poetry, Folklore, and (of Course) Blarney. I like that this anthology contains not just stories, but poems, historical facts, recipes, Irish blessings, etc. etc. I could go on. It’s also heavily illustrated.
Fiona’s Luck. Fiona is a clever, witty heroine who makes her own luck instead of relying on magic. She outsmarts the Leprechaun King who has locked all the luck in Ireland away in a chest. I particularly like the illustrations.
O’Sullivan Stew. Kate’s village has been put under a curse by the witch of Crookhaven! Not to worry, this feisty, imaginative and clever Irish heroine manages to rescues them all with her smart, surprising and very humorous storytelling skills.
Tim O’Toole and the Wee Folk. Folklorist Gerald McDermott may be best known for his Anansi the Spider tale, but he’s also written this entertaining European folktale. Poor Tim is shunned by his neighbors but when he gets a magic gift he lets the McGoons trick him out of it. Fortunately, there is a group of leprechauns to help him change his fortune.
Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde. Did you know Irish playwright Oscar Wilde also wrote tales for children? I should have put this classic collection on my Classic Children’s Books of the 19th Century list. Younger children will certainly not understand much of the social commentary and satire in these stories and protective parents may wish to delay reading them until their children are older but whatever you decide, the stories will get conversations started, and that is always a good thing. Project Gutenberg has several versions with illustrations available for free so you can preview it and decide if they are right for you.
Sally Go Round The Stars: Favourite Rhymes from an Irish Childhood. For younger kids, I really love the illustrations in this book of nursery rhymes. Most of the selections are familiar even to non-Irish children but others, like the one with a cat named Pangur Bán will be new.
Leprechauns and Irish Folklore. Ah, The Magic Tree House books: some people love them some people hate them. I have mixed feelings, but I tend to appreciate the non-fiction companion guides because my 8 year old who usually does not read anything that might fall under the “social studies” umbrella will read these books. That’s a pretty good recommendation in my book.
Do you have any favorite Irish or Celtic tales you would add to this list? Is St. Patrick’s Day a holiday you celebrate?
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