Teachwire Logo
Rising stars
Rising stars

5 Of The Best Primary Book Topics For Teaching Mythology And Folk Tales

Use mermaids, magic, wizards and trolls to explore why myths and legends survive history (and reality)

  • 5 Of The Best Primary Book Topics For Teaching Mythology And Folk Tales

Once upon a time folk tales taught us horrible moral lessons that do not hold up to modern standards.

Ricky Gervais famously did a whole routine on The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Its supposed message? Don’t lie. But as the writer/actor/comedian points out, it’s really saying ‘don’t tell the same lie three times’.

Oh, there are more.

Bluebeard: Do as your husband says and you won’t get hurt.

The Ugly Duckling: Ugliness is gross, but on the off-chance you grow up beautiful you can lord it over your former tormentors.

Jack and the Beanstalk: Stealing is fine if the victim is ‘bad’ (Also, if he catches you it’s totally cool to kill him).

Seriously, read some of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. More often than not there’s no moral at all, and the ones that are there are insidious.

Thankfully today we have better tales to delve into the fascinating worlds of mythology and folk stories, and here are some of our favourites:

1. Don’t Read This Book!

Where better to start than a deconstruction of story structure featuring guest appearances from fairytale characters? This playful metafiction book is guaranteed to have your class hooked, intrigued and laughing out loud. An unbelievably impatient king, a forgetful court story writer and an array of guest appearances by a host of favourite characters makes for a refreshing take on a traditional fairytale. Explore the illustrations for clues, role-play the characters and narrator and construct your own version of the story.

Get this book topic here.

2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

If children could drink a Polyjuice Potion, who would they become and what would they do? And what is the role of secrets in this book, and pupils lives? There are creative English lessons and more in this KS2 lesson plan, where you will discuss legends and invent words with JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Get this book topic here.

3. In Their Shoes

By walking a mile in the shoes of classic literary characters, your class will go on a learning journey they’ll never forget. Explore different versions of familiar folk stories, study picture composition and of course find out more about shoes of all kinds throughout history

Get this book topic here.

4. Black Dog

This award-winning book from Levi Pinfold lets pupils explore their fears from a safe space. Role-play the characters to discover what frightens them, collect data and create graphs on what scares your class the most, then present the findings as statistics or in a story (or both). Look into the distinctive tempera method of the artwork, and delve into the folklore of the black dog.

Get this book topic here.

5. Oliver and the Seawigs

There’s something in the water in Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre’s Oliver and the Seawigs, with mermaids, a talking albatross and some rather strange islands. Look at sea-themed mythology in literature, take part in some art and design for the story and find out more about problem solving.

Get this book topic here.

Sign up here for your free Brilliant Teacher Box Set

Make sure your assessment is effective with these expert insights.

Find out more here >