9 Enchanting Folk and Fairy Tale Books
Updated: Oct 20, 2022
If you’re feeling a bit foggy on the details of many beloved folk and fairy tales, I’ve got nine book recommendations for you. These are great if you’re keen to read more stories from different authors or need a gift idea.
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1. Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales
Angela Carter was an English novelist, short story writer, poet, and journalist most known for her feminist works and use of magial realism to create rich, evocative works.
Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales is a dense book that I would recommend for anyone 13 and older who wants a well-rounded global experience of folk and fairy tales with strong female characters including cunning women, devious aunts, odd sisters, skilled midwives, bewitching enchantresses, and mysterious old ladies. Use this link to find it on Amazon.
2. An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales
By Theresa Breslin (author) and Kate Leiper (illustrator)
This is a gorgeous, large-sized book of folk and fairy tales that I recommend for all ages. Whether you’re reading to your kids, grandkids, or enjoying it yourself with a hot cup of tea, Theresa and Kate will transport you to the magical landscapes of Scotland. Use this link to find it on Amazon.
Theresa Breslin is a Scottish author and winner of several literary awards, including the prestigious Carnegie Medal, the Scottish Book Trust’s Outstanding Achievement Award, and is the author of over fifty works.
Katie Leiper is an Edinburgh-based children’s book illustrator with a fascination with myths and folklore. Her intricate drawings are inspired by animals and nature, and she even hosts workshops for kids focused on drawing dragons and making Selkie sock puppets! Her skill is evident
3. Scottish Myths and Legends
By Daniel Allison
Daniel Allison is an acclaimed Scottish storyteller, author, host of the House of Legends podcast, and creator of the Roundhouse School of Storytelling. His book, Scottish Myths, and Legends, retells the lore of Scotland, steeped in tradition with modern insights and flavour. Find this book and other works by Daniel on Amazon.
4. The Little Book of the Hidden People: 20 Stories of Elves from Icelandic Folklore
By Alda Sigmundsdóttir
This one is a personal favourite of mine.
There are a lot of misconceptions about Icelanders and their so-called belief in elves or hidden people. The truth is, our ancestors did have many stories about hidden people. Some of them were happy, some of them tragic, and some of them just plain bizarre. Alda does a beautiful job retelling some of those stories, along with an analysis of why each type of tale might have been told and the significance of how they reflect Icelandic society of centuries past.
If you think Icelanders still believe in elves, you need to read this book.
5. Icelandic Folk Legends: Tales of apparitions, outlaws and things unseen
By Alda Sigmundsdóttir
The Icelandic nation has a long and rich history of storytelling. Throughout centuries characterized by hardship, poverty, and dark winters, the Icelanders kept their spirits high and moral values intact by telling each other stories. In this collection of 15 Icelandic folk legends, we get a glimpse of the worldview of the Icelanders in centuries past (beyond just elf stories) as they endeavored to understand and cope with the natural phenomena around them.
There are stories of malicious ghosts, outlaws living in carved-out boulders, hidden people residing in grassy knolls, trolls that are tripped up by their own stupidity, and much more. In addition, there is one story exemplifying a fairy tale motif that scholars have discovered to be unique to Iceland: that of the good stepmother (The Story of Himinbjörg). Throughout we get a powerful sense of the Icelanders’ beliefs, values, and fears, as well as their strong need to cling to all that was pure and good. Find it here on Amazon.
6. The Guardians of Iceland
Heidi’s collection of Icelandic fairy tales and legends includes stories of trolls, magic, Hidden People, creatures from the sea, giants, shape-shifting seals, and dragons in disguise. Discover them all in this fun collection tales passed from generation to generation. Find it here on Amazon.
7. Brothers Grimm: An Illustrated Treasury of Grimm's Fairy Tales: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel and many more classic stories
This collection of folk and fairy tales from the Brother’s Grimm, beautifully illustrated by Daniela Drescher, contains some of the most famous Grimm stories along with many others not turned into modern movies. This collection is suited for children and adults who are young and adventurous at heart. Find it here on Amazon.
8. Scandinavian Folk & Fairy Tales
A wonderful collection of folk and fairy tales from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland. With a wonderful introduction that highlights the similarities and common threads between the stories of Scandinavia, contrasted with the distinct differences. Find it here on Amazon.
9. An Illustrated Treasury of Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales
Hans Christian Andersen's classic tales of foolish emperors, lonely mermaids, icy queens and clever princesses have delighted children and adults alike for nearly two centuries. The stories' unique magic and wonder make them essential reading for any childhood.
This beautifully illustrated collection of Andersen's best-loved fairy tales includes The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, Thumbelina, The Princess and the Pea, and The Emperor's New Clothes. Find it on Amazon here.
I believe that if you’re going to purchase a collection of folk and fairy tales, I believe you should find an illustrated version. While novels don’t require imagery, these old stories do well paired beside them.
Can a clumsy farm boy and a sword-wielding princess defeat an ancient sea dragon? Find out in Natalie Guttormsson’s new short story: Ash Lad and the Sea Dragon.
This Orkney spin on a classic Norwegian folk tale perfectly illustrates the lasting legacy of migrating people.
If you’re looking for a small dose of summer adventure or a quick weekend read, Ash Lad is your perfect escape.
Get your free copy of Ash Lad and the Sea Dragon at: www.folkloreforum.org/ashlad