Monday, December 5, 2011


This title, MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD World Folk Tales for Strong Boys by Jane Yolen was a pleasant surprise here at our house. The surprise was not that the book was good, but that it would interest by six-year-old son so intensely. My son begs me to read him another tale from the book every night and is very disappointed when we miss a night. Even my ten and twelve-year-old will often slip into the room and pretend to be doing something until they give up all pretense and plop onto the bed and listen too.

I remember adoring folk tales and Grimms fairy tales as a child. Don't you? Alas, when my first children were born and I'd peruse a folk tale, the stories suddenly seemed so violent and cruel that I just couldn't bring myself to share them. Was it because my first two were girls?

Anyway, I'm realizing my son is cut from very different cloth than his sisters. Much as I hate to admit it, he craves stories where bad things actually happen, and lessons are learned the hard way. I think somehow it helps him order things in his mind and face the fears that seem to be such a part of a six-year-old boy's life.

The other good fortune that resulted from this book, is that it has given us the opportunity to study geography. Each folktale in the book shows the country from which it originated. Before we read each tale, we look up the country on my iphone, yes, because I'm too lazy to go down to the basement and find our atlas, then, my son labels the country onto a map that I printed from the internet, and colors it in. Sounds simple, but he LOVES this. On his own, he goes over the maps and looks at the different countries he has written in.

And, yes, in case you were wondering, there is a version for strong girls as well. I will be getting this soon.