Folklore are stories from around the world that have been handed down through the centuries orally. Once they are written down they become folk literature. Definitions and examples of many of the common forms of folklore follow:


Brief stories that have a moral or lesson, often with animal characters that speak and act like humans.

Examples: The Ants and the Grasshopper, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Tortoise and the Hare, Town Mouse and Country Mouse


Fairy Tale

Old stories from a time when stories were told orally. Fanciful tales of famous deeds and romances, usually having to do with fairies or people with magical powers.

Examples: Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella



Very old stories from a time when stories were not written down, but passed down orally. Some myths explain how the earth was formed while others explain how and why people were created or why natural events, like lightning or earthquakes, occur. Myths usually star supernatural heroes and heroines or gods and goddesses.

Examples: Norse myths, Greek myths, Gilgamesh



A popular story, usually about one hero or heroine, with local or national significance. Legends may contain elements of truth mixed with exaggerations.

Examples: King Arthur, MuLan