The Greenwood Library of World Folktales
Stories from the Great Collections
by Thomas A. Green, Editor
February 2008, 1928pp, 7x10
4 volumes, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-33783-3
$347, £267, 302€, A476
eBook Available: 978-0-313-08103-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Selects and annotates a vast array of folktales from around the world.

From the Amazon to the Arctic, the world is teeming with diverse cultures. There’s no better way for students to explore the world’s cultural diversity than through its folktales.

Presenting tales from the foundations of the world’s traditions, literature, daily life, and popular culture, The Greenwood Library of World Folktales: Stories from the Great Collections gathers together a vast array of folktales and arranges them according to region or cultural group, thus allowing students to quickly and conveniently learn about the tales of particular cultures. Some of these stories have been told for centuries, while others have emerged only in recent times. The four-volume set includes introductory essays in addition to explanatory headnotes, and provides bibliographies on particular regions as well as a selected, general bibliography. The most comprehensive work of its kind, this set gives students and general readers a guided tour of the world’s folktales.

Each volume of the set is devoted to a particular broad geographic region:

Volume 1: Africa, The Middle East, Australia and Oceania
Volume 2: Asia
Volume 3: Europe
Volume 4: North and South America

Accessible, informative, and entertaining, this book will help literature students learn how to analyze texts and understand the traditions at the heart of many of the world’s literary masterpieces. It will also help social studies students learn about the world’s cultures and respect ethnic diversity.


  • Volumes are devoted to particular geographic regions.
  • Tales are clustered in sections devoted to particular cultural groups within broad regions.
  • Introductory essays discuss the tales and traditions of different areas.
  • Tales are accompanied by explanatory headnotes.
  • The set includes regional bibliographies and a selected, general bibliography of resources suitable for student research.
  • Supports the literature curriculum by helping students analyze texts and understand the tales fundamental to many literary works.
  • Supports the social studies curriculum by helping students learn about different cultures.
  • Promotes respect for cultural and ethnic diversity.


"International in scope, this set offers four volumes that each focus on folktales from a broad geographic region: Africa, the Middle East, Australia, and Oceania; Asia; Europe; and North and South America. . . . Including classics like Cinderella, Hansel and Grete, and Jack, the Giant-Killer, this collection entertains while providing insight into the cultural and literary traditions of the diverse cultures represented. Useful for students and researchers as well as general readers; highly recommended for academic and public libraries."—Library Journal, June 15, 2008

"This would be a great resource for students in world history classes, English as a Second Language, and world literature classes to compare and contrast the various variants of the worldwide folktales and themes such as evil stepmothers, silly husbands, dutiful wives, and sibling rivalries. In addition, this would be a welcome addition to the teacher collection. It is a wonderful multicultural resource for studying this aspect of world cultures. Bibliography. Glossary. Index. Recommended."—Library Media Connection, November 1, 2008

"The set gathers together a representative sampling of stories, jokes, personal narratives, morality tales, puns, and legends that have been culled from an international array of classic folktale collections. . . . The selections retain authentic language and rhythyms, and the judicious choices effectively address cultural norms. . . . The preface, volume-specific introductions, and literary commentary take an academic tone, but the stories themselves can be shared and enjoyed by a wide audience. In addition to large public libraries, folklorists, and storytellers, this set will be of interested to academic collections that support students in comparative literature, international studies, or teacher-preparation programs."—Booklist, October 15, 2008

"A set preface, volume introductions, and headnotes (brief ethnographic, historical, comparative, or stylistic points) for each tale immensely increase the Library's usefulness. The editor has tried to avoid Western-centric bias, especially in categorizing (tales are grouped by culture or geopolitical divisions)....[T]here is a good blend of subgenres, of the familiar and the rare, and the sacred and the secular, from hundreds of ethnic groups. The Encyclopedia, too, has a global scope, and ranges from antiquity to the present in its 670 entries. It covers commercial films, music, and young adult novels, as well as motifs, writers, tale types, and ethnic groups. An introduction contextualizes fairy tale studies and provides an extensive bibliography (a subset of the closing 64-pages offering). Cross references appear in boldface throughout. . . . Both sets, with their occasional black and white illustrations, will be accessible and useful to sophisticated newcomers to the genre."—School Library Journal, August 1, 2008

"This valuable collection of folktales provides an engaging introduction to cultural themes and stories from around the globe. . . . this set is an invaluable resource for high-school or beginning college students who are researching in the fields of literature or cultural studies.' "—ARBA, March 1, 2009

"[A]n excellent tool for teaching the use of one of the world's most ubiquitous literary art forms. This collection is suitable for audiences in high school, public and academic libraries."—Lawrence Looks at Books, July 1, 2008

"This current work is well titled as a library or archive of stories, written for educators and students as well as the general reader. Each volume is devoted to a specific geographical location, with introductory articles on the narrative traditions of a specific locale. Stories are preceded by an explanatory head note including: title, tradition bearer, source, date, original source, and national origin. Each volume contains a table of contents, bibliographies, and the cumulative index. This is an admirable work, edited by a respected scholar, supporting the literature and social studies curricula. It will be useful for students and instructors interested in promoting an understanding of cultural diversity and a goldmine for storytellers hoping to expand their repertoire.' "—MultiCultural Review, December 1, 2008
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