The intriguing premise of a good story combines a hero and a villain, a fatal flaw, a character’s backstory, and a dash of extraordinary power and magical ability. Toss in comforting seating and a great title, and the day most likely will conclude in rapt attention, especially if a child pleads to continue through one more chapter. Move over wizards and teams of superheroes; there’s an equally exciting genre that dates to the land of ancient civilizations. It comprises a battle between good and evil, extraordinary heroes and villains, gods and goddesses, and mythological creatures.
Mythology Surrounds Us
On the surface, the titles of stories of legend appear as fictitious names comprising the Earth (Gaia), the Sky (Zeus or Odin), and the representations of virtues, such as Athena for wisdom. Beyond the stories are memorable characters and creatures that possess a symbolic nature. Ever wonder why a Pegasus appears on stamps? Well, a fast-moving flying horse would aid the mail through air-transport!
A shortlist of additional examples:
- You may enjoy wearing a specific brand of sneakers. The name “Nike” represents a Greek goddess of victory.
- “Dove” is a logical name for soap. The bird references the symbol of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty.
- A siren is a goddess intended to lure you and cause irresistibility to her. Interesting that a coffee brand features a siren as its logo!
- While “Atlas” describes a book of maps, the mythological man holds the world in his hands.
- The medical profession uses the symbol of an entwined snake, which represents the god of medicine, Aesculapius.
- Literature is full of mythological references. Many children have already met a wild child by the name of Peter Pan, symbolic of a satyr of the wild, of nature, and animals named Pan.
Even if it’s a mere nugget of information, prior knowledge of a subject can elevate a child’s interest. Mention the words, “Odin,” “Asgard,” and “Thor’s Hammer,” and, most likely, one of those words will connect to a movie, television program, or comic book.
Myths, regardless of culture, offer a united message. Good does not just triumph over evil; the hero learns to conquer his or her inner demons and to quash all undesirable traits. Readers interested in Norse myths should begin with a non-fictional presentation of the Norse characters and creatures before delving into a novel.
Recommended selections are:
- A Child’s Introduction to Norse Mythology: Odin, Thor, Loki, and Other Viking Gods, Goddesses, Giants, and Monsters (8 and older)
- Magus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan (8 and older)
- The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer (9 and older)
Reading mythology takes an understanding of the characters. As magical beings, they can transform into a human, animal, or hybrid, possessing both human and beastly characteristics. The relatable factor is their vulnerability to the problems of mortals by committing sins, such as greed and envy, arrogance and narcissism, jealousy, and hatred. And, often, their difficulties are Herculean. Despite their supreme status, like humans, the gods and goddesses receive consequences or rewards for their actions. Making the story relatable, there’s usually a friend or enemy in the form of a Pegasus, satyr, dragon, gorgon, minotaur, or other half-human hybrids such as centaurs, sphinx’, and harpies.
Action-packed, indeed, a few recommended stories include:
- A Child’s Introduction to Greek Mythology: The Stories of the Gods, Goddesses, Heroes, Monsters, and Other Mythical Creatures (Child’s Introduction Series) (8+)
- Young Zeus by Brian Karas (4 and older)
- The Adventures of Odysseus by Hugh Lupton (5 to 8)
- The Heroes in Training by Joan Holub (6 and older)
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Heroes of Olympus series, and The Trials of Apollo series by Rick Riordan (8 and up)
Expanding the Culture
Readers interested in mythology will discover an expansion of cultural Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, and Hispanic stories presented in the modern-day novel. Consider reading the Charlie Hernandez books by Ryan Caleio, the Storm Runners series by J.C. Cervantes, or the Pandava Quintet books by Roshani Chokshi.
Mythology is a thrilling genre for any age to learn about history, culture, and expand the imagination. Dating back from the Ancient Norse, 3000 BC, to the current day, the need to hear a good story is still relevant! Happy reading!
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