This is a resource for teachers of students in 3rd through 6th grades. It has numerous plays, stories, and worksheets that are appropriate for students in these grades. The material in here has been written or created by James Stephen Parks and Sally Powell Corbett, two fifth grade teachers at Highland Park Elementary in Austin, Texas. After working together for nine years on a literature unit on ancient Greece that centered on mythology, they have compiled some material that they feel could be beneficial to other teachers. Not only has this unit generated great enthusiasm among their students, it has also had the fringe benefits of improving many students' reading ability and helped in raising achievement scores. Feel free to Xerox any of this material to use with your class room.
All of these books were found in the Austin Public Library, and although some are out of print, they were included if they are worthwhile books. Books marked with stars ** are of exceptional quality.
(Books listed for 3rd grade level are often helpful for students in upper grades but below grade level in reading ability -- especially the Troll Books)
Aesop: His Fables are suitable for 3rd - 6th grade.
Caldecott, Alfred. The Caldecott Aesop ill. by Randolph Caldecott. (London: MacMillan & Co. 1883)
Jones, Vernon. Aesop's Fables. ill. by Arthur Rackham. (NY: Watts. 1967)
Kredel, Fritz. Aesop's Fables. ill. by Kredel. (NY: Grosset & Dunlap 1947)
Mathias, Robert. Aesop's Fables. ill. by David Frankland (Morristown, NJ: Silver Burdett, 1983)
Sprigs, Ruth. The Fables of Aesop. ill. by Frank Baber. (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1975.)
Untermeyer, Louis. Aesop's Fables. ill by A. and M. Provensen (NY: Golden Press, 1965.)
For Young Readers (3rd-4th)
Birrer, Cynthia & William. Song to Demeter. ill. by authors. (NY: Lothrop, 1987)
Farmer, Penelope. Daedalus and Icarus ill. by Chris Connor. (NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971.)
***Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Golden Touch. ill. by Paul Galdone. (NY: McGraw Hill, 1959. ) This book is out of print, but this is a classic. It was Hawthorne who first rewrote classical myths for children in America.
Little, Emily. The Trojan Horse. ill. by Michael Eagle. (NY: Random House, 1988.)Very easy book from the Step Into Reading Series.
*Martin, Claire. The Race of the Golden Apples. ill. by Leo and Diane Dillon. (NY: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1991.) Fairly easy to read, this book has beautiful, stylized artwork.
McDermott, Gerald. Daughter of Earth. . ill. by author. (NY: Delacorte, 1984.)
Naden, C. J., Pegasus the Winged Horse. ill. by Robert Baxter. (Mahwah, NJ: Troll Associates, 1981.) From Troll books. Easy to read with nice artwork. Also by Naden Theseus and the Minotaur , Perseus and Medusa, and Jason and the Golden Fleece.
***Proddow, Penelope. Demeter and Persephone. ill. by Barbara Cooney. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1972.) A graceful translation of a Homeric hymn with exceptional artwork. Also by Proddow Dionysus and the Pirates.
Richardson, I. M. The Adventures of Hercules. ill. by R. Baxter (Mahwah, NJ: Troll Associates, 1983.) A continuation of Troll Books easy to read mythology series. Prometheus and the Story of Fire is also by Richardson.
Tomaino, Sarah. Persephone Bringer of Spring. ill by Ati Forberg. (NY: Crowell, 1971.)
For the Middle Reader (5th - 6th Grades)
***Barth, Edna. Cupid and Psyche. ill. by Ati Forberg. (NY: the Seabury Press, 1976.)
**Benson, Sally. Stories of the Gods and Heroes. ill. by Steele Savage. (NY: Dial, 1940.) A nice collection of myths.
**Coolidge, Olivia. The Golden Days of Greece. ill by Enrico Arno. (NY: Crowell, 1968.) This is a history of ancient Greece and is unquestionably one of the best written for children.
Coolidge, Olivia. Greek Myths. ill. by Edouard Sandoz. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1949.) A collection of myths. Also by Coolidge: The Trojan War, Men of Athens, Marathon Looks on the Sea & Lives of the Famous Romans.
***D'Aulaire, Ingri & Edgar. D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1962.)The premiere children's collection of myths! The stories are well researched and the artwork is distinctive and often touched with a sense of humor. The American Classical League thinks so highly of this book that it uses this collection as its main source for The National Mythology Exam given to elementary students. The D'Aulaire couple also has produced numerous biographies that are suitable for elementary children.
Galloway, Priscilla. Aleta and the Queen. ill. by Normand Cousineau. (Toronto: Annick Press Ltd, 1995.) Nice retelling from the perspective of Queen Penelope, who struggles to maintain dignity and control of Ithaca for nineteen years while Odysseus is away. Also by the author Atalanta.
Gates,Doris. Heracles Mightiest of Mortals. ill. by Richard Cuffari. (NY: Penguin, 1984.) Also by Gates: The Warrior Goddess:Athena, The Golden God: Apollo, Lord of the Skies: Zeus , Two Queens of Heaven: Aphrodite and Demeter, and A Fair Wind for Troy.
Green, Roger Lancelyn. The Tale of Troy (NY: Penguin Books, 1958.) Very good retelling of the highlights from Homer's two epics. Green was one of C. S. Lewis' colleagues and close friends. Also by Green is The Tale of Thebes -- it is a bit tougher reading and only advanced 5th, 6th graders could handle it.
Graves, Robert. Greek Gods and Heroes. ill. by Dimtris Davis. (Garden City, NY:
Doubleday, 1960.) Collection of myths that are fairly well done but the artwork is not very appealing to children.
**Johnston, Norma. Pride of Lions. (NY: Atheneum, 1979.) A powerful retelling of the House of Atreus (leading Greek family who fought in the Trojan War.) It is definitely for the advanced 5th - 6th grade reader. With its graphic descriptions of violence, it is a hit among students, but the teacher better read it and use their judgment before turning kids loose on this one.
**Low, Alice. The MacMillan Book of Greek Gods and Heroes. ill. by Arvis Stewart. (NY: MacMillan, 1985.) Very good collection with lovely artwork. This book is ideal for children who've already read D'Aulaire's or for 6th graders who might think the D'Aulaire's artwork is too juvenile for them.
Reeves, James. The Voyage of Odysseus. ill. by Blackie & Son. (NY: Bedrick/ Blackie, 1986.)
Serraillier, Ian. The Clashing Rocks. ill. by William Stobbs. (NY: Walck, 1964.) The story of Jason & the Argonauts.
Williams, Jay. Medusa's Head. ill. by Steele Savage. (NY: Random House, 1960.) Short and easy to read for 5th & 6th graders.
For the Teacher
If you are not very well versed in classical mythology, you can get by with the following two books that are superb resources:
***Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. ill. by Steele Savage (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1942.) Available in paperback almost anywhere. This collection is thorough and very readable. Hamilton was classical scholar who gives you a short synopsis before every tale and lets you know what sources she used. If you read this book you will be an expert in the eyes of your children.
***Gibson, Michael. Gods, Men, and Monsters from the Greek Myths. ill. by Giovanni Caselli. (NY: Schocken Books, 1982.) The text is pretty good, but is completely overshadowed by the artwork. Caselli's artistry is nothing short of spectacular and is ideal to inspire students in any art projects they do.
The Libation Bearers
+Euripides The Trojan Women
Evslin, Bernard. Jason and The Argonauts. ill. by Bert Dodson. (NY: Morrow, 1986.)
***Homer. The Odyssey. translated by Robert Fitzgerald. (NY: Doubleday, 1961.) There are other translations, but this is still considered one of best.
Johnston, Norma. Strangers Dark and Gold. (NY: Atheneum, 1979.) The story of Jason and the Argonauts.
**Lewis, C.S. Till We Have Faces. (NY: Harcourt, 1956.) Retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth from the point of view of Psyche's sister.
Ovid. Metamorphoses. translated by A. D. Melville (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1986.) Ovid revels in sex, violence, and making fun of the gods, but this is the most massive collection of myths from the ancient writers.
Renault, Mary. The King Must Die. (NY:Random House, 1956.) An entertaining retelling of the Theseus myth. Renault has several other books but they tend to be much longer.
***Schwabb, Gustav. Gods and Heroes. trans. from German by Olga Marx & Ernst Morwitz. (NY: Pantheon Books, 1946.) The best translation into English of a collection of the Greek myths. It is thorough and frequently used by college mythology professors as the standard text.
+Sophocles. Oedipus Rex
+ There are many versions of these ancient playwrights great plays in translation, but we prefer the Washington Square Press' series edited by Grene & Lattimore.
For information on the National Mythology Exam, other classical resources, advanced seminars on the classics, and trips to Greece or Rome contact:
The American Classical League
Oxford, Ohio 45056