Photo by Tetyana Kovyrina

The collection of children’s short stories by Ruthanne Nopson is replete with morals, closely following the wisdom found in the classic tales and fables.

Parents are always on the lookout for ways to better educate and entertain their children—and in this day and age, where technology dominates the majority of children’s lives, it is easy to forget and ignore the value and importance of traditional storytelling, whether it is via books or oral delivery. 

Yet, it is in the old tales and fables that there is a great deal of passion for reading and stories that can be found. While the settings and the characters of classic stories may sound outdated or obsolete, that is far from the truth of things. It is in classic literature that one can ground their foundations and find a better appreciation for stories.

What is the benefit of the old tales and fables?

Within the timelessness of the themes in older literature are simple yet profound narratives that have the power—through years upon years of careful refinement—to teach children the essential lessons of how to live a good life and grow as an individual and as a person who exists in a changing world.

Great Examples of Older Literature for Children

When talking about pre-modern stories or classic literature, it is understood that this is usually referring to narratives that were written before the 19th or 20th century. These include legends that have survived since ancient times, like Greek and Roman myths, as well as fairy tales and folk tales. 

While they bear an aura of outdatedness, there is no doubt that the morals they hold are still quite relevant in the modern context and hold universal truths that still resonate—and with just some updates to the settings and the vocabulary, most old tales and fables are indistinguishable from modern fairy tales, like those found in a collection of children’s short stories by Ruthanne Nopson.

Here are some great examples of classic tales and fables with timeless themes for young children to be introduced to:

Aesop’s Fables

Otherwise known as the Aesopica, this collection of short stories is one of the oldest known examples of literary anthologies in the world. As the name of the anthology suggests, Aesop’s Fables is a grand collection of fables that is credited to an individual named Aesop, a slave, and storyteller who is purported to have existed in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE. 

Aesop’s Fables is a wonderful collection, not only because it is quite old but because of its very diverse origins. The tales found in this anthology are said to be gathered from many places across the ancient world, from India to Italy. The timelessness of the stories in the Aesopica has also resulted in some of them having been rewritten and retold in multiple iterations, such that you might even be aware of some of them!

The Panchatantra

This ancient collection of stories is quite similar to Aesop’s Fables, except for the fact that while Aesopica is a very scattered anthology without an overarching theme, the Panchatantra has one. 

Originally written in Sanskrit, the title actually means “The Five Treatises” in the language. This refers to the fact that the collection is divided into five interrelated parts that are arranged within a framing device that runs in both verse and prose. While the oldest manuscripts date from the Panchatantra at around 200 BCE, the stories themselves are said to be much, much older, having originated as an oral tradition.

One Thousand and One Nights

The delightfully titled One Thousand and One Nights (sometimes called The Arabian Nights) is a collection of folk tales gathered from across the Middle East and compiled in the Arabic language. Some of the stories can even trace their roots to older stories that were told in Mesopotamia!

Perhaps the most memorable anthology of children’s short stories outside of Aesop’s Fables, One Thousand and One Nights, features such memorable stories as Sinbad the SailorAladdin and the Magic LampAli Baba, and the Forty Thieves.