These are some of my favorite stories to use with preschoolers. Many of them happen to be folktales from around the world. Feel free to email me, and I can send you outlines to help.
Brave Martha and the Dragon, Susan Roth (France) – I change the ending in this one so that instead of the (FEMALE!!!) heroine destroying the dragon, she helps the villagers realize that the dragon needs kindness. When the kids sing to him, bring him food, ask him to “please stop” the dragon disappears into the Rhone river. First we throw beanbags at the dragon (the wall) to try to make him go away, but it doesn’t work. Then, we problem-solve to figure out other ways to make him go away. Inevitably, a child (usually a little girl) pipes up “What if we were nice to him?”
Too Many Tamales, Gary Soto (Mexico) – Use salsa music, maracas, play with play dough, discuss honesty and repairing when you’ve made a mistake.
Zomo the Rabbit, Gerald McDermott (West Africa) – Can use drums, eat mangos, Zomo finds out that he is, indeed, special even though he doesn’t think so in the beginning.
The Leopard’s Drum: An Asante Tale, Jessica Souhami (West Africa)
The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, Julia Donaldson
Liang and the Magic Paintbrush, Demi (China)
Lon Po Po, Ed Young (Chinese Little Red Riding Hood)
Hush!: A Thai Lullaby, Minfong Ho (Thailand) – Lots of repetition here, fun for little ones to act like the different animals; or teacher can act like the animal, and kids can guess.
Amrita’s Tree, from Barefoot Book of Earth Tales, Dawn Casey (India) – Wonderful story about a group of people who save the trees through nonviolence.
Rainbow Crow, Nancy Van Laan (Native American)
Abiyoyo, retold by Pete Seeger (South Africa)
Mama Miti, Donna Jo Napoli (Kenya)
The Rabbit Who Crossed the Sea, Florence Sakade (Japan)
The Biggest Frog in Australia, Susan Roth (Aboriginal Australia)
The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County, Janice Harrington (African American Author)
The Treasure, Uri Shulevitz (Yiddish Folktale)
The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats (African American Author)
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
Rainbow Fish, Marcus Pfister
Are You My Mother, PD Eastman
The Runaway Bunny, Margaret Wise Brown
The Very Busy Spider, Eric Carle
Stone Soup, Marcia Brown