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Literacy Focus - Folklore Genre (Myths, Legends, Fairy Tales and Fables)

A yellow background with a fairy, a cartoon tortoise, a sword in a stone and a man holding up the world. Heading Myths, Legends, Fairy tales and fables

What is a myth?

Myths are stories that explain why people, animals or things are the way they are.

Here are some features of the text that will tell you it is a myth:

  1. Good and evil characters

  2. Explain how something happened or why

  3. Has gods in the story

  4. Has fantastical creatures

  5. Supernatural forces are included

  6. Usually uses a classical opening e.g. Long, long ago

Watch 'What is a Myth?' by the Learning Depot.

You have probably heard of the Greek myths, so if you want to read a few, try the BBC School Radio page 'Ancient Greece KS2'.

What is a legend?

Legends are stories about people and their actions or deeds. The people were usually real people or thought to be real people but the story about them has been added to, making it more exciting.

Here are some features of the text that will tell you it is a legend:

  1. Good and evil characters

  2. Has heroes and villains

  3. Used to be passed on orally rather than written

  4. May be based on an element of truth

  5. Has an ending that summarises the outcome

Some famous legends you might know are about Robin Hood and King Arthur.

Watch this video and have a go at working out whether the tale is a legend or a myth.

Watch 'Did King Arthur Really Exist?' by English Heritage.

Want to see if you can tell the difference between a myth and a legend? Go to the BBC page 'Is the Banshee a myth or legend'.

What is a fairy tale?

These are stories that have been made up by people. They are often for entertainment.

Here are some features of the text that will tell you it is a fairy tale:

  1. Begins with "Once upon a time...”

  2. Happened in... long ago...

  3. Has heroes and villains

  4. Usually has royal characters

  5. Often magical

  6. Fairy tales have a problem that needs to be solved.

  7. It often takes three tries to solve the problem.

  8. Fairy tales have happy endings – “they all lived happily ever after.”

Some famous fairy tales are Cinderella, Snow White, The Three Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood.

You can read some for yourself at Storynory.

What is a fable?

Fables are made-up stories that teach a lesson, so there is always a moral to the story.

Here are some features of the text that will tell you it is a fable:

  1. A moral or lesson in the story

  2. Don't have a lot of detail

  3. Contain simple sentences

  4. Human characteristics are given to animals

You can read some Aesop fables on this site.

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