World religion for kids
November 29, 2014 7:58 PM   Subscribe

What are some good books of mythology/stories from world religion for kids?

We have 4- and 7-year-old boys. They like my bowdlerized versions of Beowulf, The Odyssey and various Bible stories. These have all been told in the spirit of "these are the stories people told to make sense of the world a long time ago." Recently the 7-year-old has been reading a children's Bible his grandmother gave to him. He likes the stories, and his reading has engendered some good talks about respecting other people's beliefs and the importance of stories and so on (in other words, we're not all hurf durf Christianity about it, nor are we "let's sign (back) up"). Anyway! I'm wondering if anyone has specific books of mythology and religion that work for kids at that age. A lot seem either poor quality or catechism or Dawkins for Tikes. I would love a presentation that is primarily about them being good stories.
posted by lieberschnitzel to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
It's over a year old, so several of the videos are unavailable now, but I once posted an FPP on animated children's versions of Hindu classics that still has enough working links to maybe suit your purposes.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:04 PM on November 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you're open to ancient religions: D'Aulaires' Greek Myths is a classic.

Your local library should have a good selection of these, shelved in the 200s with religion and in the 398s, with myths, legends and folklore.
posted by Biblio at 8:14 PM on November 29, 2014 [5 favorites]

Oh, there are some working links to relevant children's books in that FPP too, and since the old link to this isn't working, I'll add here that Amar Chitra Katha comic books are both fun and popular in India (select the 'Singles' checkbox to see the ones for major figures).
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:15 PM on November 29, 2014

I greatly enjoyed They Dance in the Sky: Native American Star Myths as a child.
posted by sacrifix at 8:24 PM on November 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

I discovered mythology as a kid while looking through an art history textbook. It had pictures of sculptures of Greek and Roman gods and heroes. Copies of a copy, I know, but I found them fascinating.

Go to an art museum. If you're a kid, or even if you're an adult, it's cool to see Hercules in three dimensions.
posted by BadgerDoctor at 8:32 PM on November 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is one of THE BEST questions ever on AskMe!

I'll Memail you later or update here with titles because I'm not near my library at the moment...

I have a HUGE collection of used fairytale, folklore, and mythology books I started collecting about your 7 year old's age. I'm primarily Scottish and Welsh, so those were my first anthologies. I also got a lot out of Greek and Roman mythology books, mostly because it was fun at that age to compare and match up the stories.

All of the books I kept and lug around are versions of these stories close to the original written or verbal forms - so, modern day interpretations automatically turned me off.

Yep. The local library was my friend.

I'm interested here because my library is/was light on Egyptian Mythology, and that's a drag now, because my husband is Egyptian. Our son is a blend! He's only 3 1/2, but we're doing what you are doing.

An interesting side note. So, it was a "thing" at the breakfast table in my husband's family to discuss their dreams of the night before. I gather this practice came down from my husband's paternal Grandmother, and there was a worn out book lost to time that the family owned to look up dream interpretations. How Jungian - right?!?!

I wish we owned this book now.


I read several different versions of the Bible between the ages of 7 (child version) and 12 (adult versions.) So, that was interesting and informative for me. I grew up Catholic in a Jewish neighborhood. It was cool.

My husband is Muslim (like me, totally not religious) grew up attending French Catholic school. We have versions of the Koran around, but you're right, at some point our son needs to get exposed to these works, even if it is difficult to pick specific versions.

I think for our 3 year old we're sticking to cultural myths, fables, and common stories for the moment.

I have no doubt we'll fold in more religious texts as we move forward.

Along with titles from my library, I'll task my husband with finding a child's version of the Koran that isn't annoying in that way these things can sometimes be. I'll get back to you on this!

The best part for me growing up was visiting Temple with my catechism class, and being up on everything Jewish from my friend's families, anyway. Had there been a Mosque nearby (there wasn't) that would have been Awesome Sauce, too.

My husband and I share the same respect-but-distance from organized religion because we grew up in "mixed company" so to speak.

I could go on, but I'll stop here.

I will say my husband subscribes to his Ancient Egyptian Hetitage more than being Muslim, very much like I am more attuned with my Scottish and Welsh Mythology than I am with Catholicism.

Neither one of us regrets having a broad background in these subjects. We celebrate it all.

Good on you!
posted by jbenben at 9:03 PM on November 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

This book of the story of Prince Siddhartha/Buddha looks very similar to the one I had at that age. It's a pretty solid introduction to the core concepts of Buddhism, and I recall just generally enjoying the story and reading it many times (with the caveat that I was raised by Buddhists and around Buddhism, if not explicitly as a Buddhist, so I was pretty familiar with the story and ideas already).
posted by retrograde at 11:32 PM on November 29, 2014

Best answer: this series published by Hodder is older, but remains arguably the best overview of works mythologies on an engaging but rigorous way. The illustrations are uniformly excellent, and the tales are written by anthropologists and historians.

I loved these as a child, I love them as an adult. You might also consider Out Of This World, by Michael page, illustrated by Robert ingpen. It is a bit more than what you're looking for, but still great
posted by smoke at 2:18 AM on November 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I loved this book of Celtic fairy tales when I was a kid.
posted by MrBobinski at 10:47 AM on November 30, 2014

Journey to the West!
posted by gemutlichkeit at 3:17 PM on November 30, 2014

As a child, I enjoyed D'Aulaire's Norse Myths as a companion to the previously mentioned D'Aulaire's Greek Myths (and as an adult I've appreciated being able to understand references to Jormungandr and Yggdrasil and the like.) I also really liked Seasons of Splendour, by Madhur Jaffrey, who tells Indian myths along with personal vignettes that put them in the context of her childhood cultural experiences.
posted by fermion at 7:05 PM on November 30, 2014

Seconding The Little Book of Hindu Deities: From the Goddess of Wealth to the Sacred Cow by Sanjay Patel. Amazing illustrations, and absolutely perfect for a 4- and 7-year-old to enjoy.
posted by hush at 10:20 AM on December 1, 2014

« Older Plugged Ears! Aural Fullness advice if you please...   |   Famous photographs for 5-6 year olds? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.