In my position as a school librarian many students have come up to me baffled with terms like fable, myths, legends. They were confused what was the difference between them. Many times the students mix up the choice of book failing to understand what is the difference between these story types. Here is a brief guide to make one understand the difference between these story forms.
Fables, myths, legends, epics, tall tales, and fairy tales are all types of traditional stories that have been passed down orally or in written form for generations. These types of stories serve as a way for people to explain natural phenomena, cultural beliefs, and historical events, as well as to entertain and teach moral lessons.
Fables are short stories that often feature animals or inanimate objects as characters, and they usually have a moral lesson at the end. The most famous collection of fables is probably “Aesop’s Fables,” which includes stories like “The Tortoise and the Hare” and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”
Myths are traditional stories that explain the beliefs, customs, or natural phenomena of a culture. They often involve gods or supernatural beings, and they can serve to explain things like the creation of the world or the origins of certain customs. Greek and Roman myths are some of the most well-known myths.
Legends are stories that are based on historical events but often include elements of myth and folklore. They may involve real people or places, but they often include fantastical or supernatural elements as well. The legend of King Arthur and the Holy Grail is an example of a legend.
Epics are long poems or stories that tell the deeds and adventures of a hero or group of heroes. They often involve gods or supernatural beings and are set in a time before written history. The “Iliad” and the “Odyssey,” both written by the ancient Greek poet Homer, are examples of epics.
Tall tales are humorous stories that exaggerate the truth in order to entertain. They often feature larger-than-life heroes who perform impossible feats and have exaggerated characteristics. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox are examples of tall tale characters.
Fairy tales are stories that involve magic and fantasy, and they often feature fairies, giants, dragons, and other mythical creatures. They may also include elements of folklore and are often intended for children. Some well-known fairy tales include “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” and “Sleeping Beauty.”
In conclusion, fables, myths, legends, epics, tall tales, and fairy tales are all types of traditional stories that have been passed down through the ages. These stories serve a variety of purposes, including explaining natural phenomena, cultural beliefs, and historical events, as well as entertaining and teaching moral lessons. Each type of story has its own distinct characteristics and themes, but they all play an important role in preserving the cultural heritage and storytelling traditions of various societies.