A Children's Guide to Folklore and Wonder Tales

Watch A Children's Guide to Folklore and Wonder Tales

  • 2017
  • 1 Season

A Children's Guide to Folklore and Wonder Tales is a fascinating educational show that delves into the world of folktales and wonder tales, exploring their cultural significance and how they have shaped our understanding of the world around us. The show is presented by the dynamic and engaging host, Hannah Harvey, who brings her wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to the subject matter.

The show is part of The Great Courses Signature Collection, a platform dedicated to creating content that is both informative and entertaining. A Children's Guide to Folklore and Wonder Tales is no exception and is aimed at children between the ages of 8 and 12. However, it is suitable for all ages, as the stories and themes explored have universal appeal.

Throughout the episodes, Hannah takes the viewers on a journey through the origins of folktales and wonder tales, exploring the historical and cultural significance of these tales. She highlights the various themes and morals that are woven into the tales, such as courage, kindness, and the importance of friendship. Using a combination of animated segments and live-action footage, Hannah brings the tales to life, engaging the viewers and prompting them to think critically about the stories they are hearing.

The show features a variety of tales from different cultures, including European, African, and Asian. The tales are accompanied by stunning visuals, including intricate animations that capture the essence of the stories. The animation is particularly impressive, as it helps to create a sense of wonder and magic that is present throughout the show.

One of the standout aspects of the show is the attention to detail that has been put into the research and presentation of the tales. Hannah provides an in-depth look at the origins of the tales, providing historical and cultural context that helps to deepen the understanding of the stories. This attention to detail extends to the animation and visuals, which are rich with detail and color, creating a truly immersive experience for the viewers.

While the show is aimed at children, it is clear that considerable thought and care have gone into making the show both accessible and engaging for all ages. The storytelling is crisp and clear, making it easy to follow for younger viewers, while still being thought-provoking for adults. The host, Hannah Harvey, is a charismatic and engaging presence, making the show an enjoyable watch from start to finish.

Overall, A Children's Guide to Folklore and Wonder Tales is a fantastic show that celebrates the power of storytelling and the importance of diverse cultural perspectives. The show shows children that the stories of the past have much to teach us about the present and future, and that we can all learn from the wisdom of the ages. It is an excellent addition to The Great Courses Signature Collection and is sure to captivate viewers of all ages.

A Children's Guide to Folklore and Wonder Tales is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (24 episodes). The series first aired on July 21, 2017.

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Happily Ever After: How Our Stories End
24. Happily Ever After: How Our Stories End
July 21, 2017
Dr. Harvey reviews the fundamentals of storytelling and expands on common themes that can be found across tales that span time and location, such as protection of family, being resourceful, demonstrating bravery, overcoming entrapment, and more. She shares her favorite tale, "The Wonderful Pot" from Denmark, and concludes with a Scottish tale called "Death in a Nut."
American Tall Tales and Folk Songs
23. American Tall Tales and Folk Songs
July 21, 2017
Dr. Harvey jumps into the 20th century to demonstrate how Tall Tales reinforce the ideals of the cultures where they were born. After sharing the stories of "Pecos Bill," "Katy Goodgrit" and "Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox," Dr. Harvey delves into how ballads and folksongs served as a voice from those who couldn't speak. She presents "The Ballad of John Henry" and "The Ballad of Casey Jones."
King Arthur and Winnie the Pooh: Heroic Quests
22. King Arthur and Winnie the Pooh: Heroic Quests
July 21, 2017
Continuing with the triad theme, Dr. Harvey uses this lecture to explore the role of the masculine hero, comparing the actions, motifs, and quests of King Arthur and Winnie the Pooh as she shares "Merlin, Arthur, and the Two Swords" and "Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole." Through this lecture, Dr. Harvey defines the category of legends.
21. "Rapunzel": Maiden/Mother/Crone
July 21, 2017
Femininity is once again examined, this time with a focus on the roles women play in stories. Dr. Harvey shares a combined version of "Rapunzel," pulling from Grimm's German version and Basile's Italian version. Looking at the triad of Maiden/Mother/Crone and Warrior/Father/Sage, Dr. Harvey shows how stories reduce and distill all our life experiences into simple symbols.
20. "Snow White": Beauty and Handsomeness
July 21, 2017
Learn why beauty matters, how beauty is akin to as power in many stories, and how, as these stories got retold and rewritten (by men), the roles men played became more heroic while the roles women played became designated to looking lovely. Using Grimm's "Snow White" as a lens to examine instruments of femininity, Dr. Harvey explains how these stories are often metaphors for life.
Lions and Tigers and Bears: Fables
19. Lions and Tigers and Bears: Fables
July 21, 2017
Aesop has made a name for himself. Dr. Harvey presents several of his tales, including "The Tortoise and the Hare," "Androcles and the Lion," "The Stone in the Road," "The Fox and the Wolf," and "Belling the Cat." She also shares Kipling's "Camel Poem" and "How the Hamster Got his Tail," a Kenyan story about why hamsters have small tails.
18. "How the Camel Got His Hump": Pourquoi Tales
July 21, 2017
Many fictional stories are an attempt to explain why things in the world are the way they are. Dr. Harvey shares several pourquoi tales from around the world, including Kipling's "How the Camel Got His Hump" from his "Just So Stories" published in India. She also shares an African-American tale "Why the Rabbit has Long Ears and a Short Tail" and the 1929 Norse story "Why the Sea is Salty."
17. "The Little Red Hen": Formula Tales
July 21, 2017
Repetition and patterned verse are often the backbone to some of our most beloved tales. Dr. Harvey presents a wide-range of formula tales including, "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" from Norway, Joseph Jacob's "Henny Penny" from Australia, "The Gingerbread Man," and "The Three Bears" which was written by English poet laureate Robert Southey and therefore lends itself to being a cante tale.
16. "Three Little Pigs": Third Time's a Charm
July 21, 2017
Dr. Harvey looks at the power of numbers in folktales, specifically the magic of three and seven. She notes how even the story formats are broken into threes: Beginning, Middle, and End. She shares the stories of "The Three Little Goslings" (the Italian version of the German "Three Little Pigs") and "The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs," which is also a Grimm story from Germany.
15. "Puss in Boots" and"The Frog Prince": Fitting In
July 21, 2017
Well before his debut in Shrek, "Puss in Boots" was making a name for himself in the Panchatantra. Considered one of the most influential written records of oral folklore, this Indian collection of more than 700 animal fables and folk stories dates back more than 1700 years ago. Dr. Harvey shares a French version from 1697, as well as "Iron Heinrich" - or "The Frog Prince" - from Grimm.
14. "Town Musicians of Bremen": Unwanted Animals
July 21, 2017
Hear the story of "The Town Musicians of Bremen" - a tale that has been so prolific and retold through so many forms of art that in Bremen you can find a statue to the storied animals. Dr. Harvey also looks at how various cultures such as Germany, India, and the Netherlands both treated and depicted older characters. She concludes with a "Japanese Wisdom Tale."
13. "Emperor's New Clothes": Looks Can Deceive
July 21, 2017
Just like the lessons learned in the stories Dr. Harvey covers in this lecture, the stories themselves can be deceiving, too. Dr. Harvey first shares the Hans Christian Andersen story of "The Emperor's New Clothes" and then "The Happy Prince" by British playwright Oscar Wilde. Both stores are often mistaken for oral tradition folktales, yet were literary tales by one author.
Tom Thumb and Thumbelina: Little Heroes
12. Tom Thumb and Thumbelina: Little Heroes
July 21, 2017
"Tom Thumb" is grounded in oral folklore, meaning it was passed through the ages verbally as the storytellers could not read or write. Dr. Harvey shares J.O. Halliwell's poetic version of "Tom Thumb" as well as a Hans Christian Andersen's "Thumbelina" and discusses the differences between traditionally defined folktales and stories written by literary authors.
11. "Rumpelstiltskin": Naming Our Fears
July 21, 2017
Dr. Harvey presents several stories, each of which explore the power of naming. Starting with classic story "Rumpelstiltskin" from Germany, collected by the Grimm brothers in 1857, you'll also hear an Egyptian creation myth, a Judeo-Christian creation myth, the Egyptian story of Ra and Isis, and "Peerie Fool" from the Orkney Islands, which pulls elements from Norse and Scottish folklore.
10. "Hansel and Gretel": Ogres
July 21, 2017
Folklorists believe that stories like Hansel and Gretel may have begun during the Great Famine in Europe, during the late Medieval age, about 700 years ago. Dr. Harvey shows us how the Scottish version has something else living in the house in the woods as she shares both "Hansel and Gretel" and "Mollie Whuppie." Both stories introduce the themes of triumph and besting evil powers.
9. "Jack and the Beanstalk": Archetypes
July 21, 2017
Many scholars believe that the beanstalk in "Jack and the Beanstalk" is a reference to the Tree of Life, which is one of our most iconic global images. Dr. Harvey presents religious and cultural insights and more through the telling of "Jack and the Beanstalk" and the Norse myth "Yggdrasil The World Tree."
8. "The Brave Little Tailor": Giants!
July 21, 2017
Why do we love toppling giants? Stories such as David and Goliath resonate, giving us hope that we can overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Dr. Harvey shares two stories: "The Legend of the Chocolate Hills" from the Philippines, and "The Little Tailor," adapted from the 1857 version by the brothers Grimm, which itself was adapted from a 1557 story called "Der Wegkurtzer" by Martinus Montanus.
7. "Cinderella" III: The Mooing Godmother
July 21, 2017
"Cinderella" stories go back 7000 years, and Mah Pishani is possibly one of the oldest. This Iranian story provides a very different take on the same themes you've become familiar with. Unlike the bickering evil step-sisters, this version is about finding connection with family and community - in particular among women - and about love that stretches beyond the grave.
6. "Cinderella" II: Baba Yaga and Goddessesa
July 21, 2017
With the French and Italian versions of "Cinderella," Dr. Harvey presented a classic "rise" tale, but "Cinderella" is the one of the world's oldest "magic tales" with many versions, interpretations, and morals. Vasilisa the Fair" follows the traditional "Cinderella" story, but with many twists and offers the idea that there can be ambiguity in folklore characters.
5. "Cinderella" I: If the Shoe Fits
July 21, 2017
There are many versions of "Cinderella," and Dr. Harvey takes you through the Italian tale by Basile called "The Cat Cinderella" and Perrault's 1690's French version. She walks through the similarities in motifs, with both stories focusing on a "rags-to-riches theme" and an "if the shoe fits" conclusion, but notes not all versions of this story had the iconic glass slipper.
4. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice": Transformations
July 21, 2017
Continuing with the theme of transformation, Dr. Harvey introduces you to a variety of interpretations of the classic story "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," starting with a composition known as a "symphonic poem" by Paul Dukas and notes Goethe's poem. She provides the original story from the first century Egypt and treats you a story from France, with insights why we enjoy transformation stories.
3. "Beauty and the Beast" II: Being Brave
January 1, 1970
Dive deeper into the use of transformation in stories as Dr. Harvey presents a version of "Beauty and the Beast." Compare that version to the German story by Ludwig Bechstein in 1847 called "Beauty's Stone Sisters." Dr. Harvey concludes this lesson with an Ancient Greek tale called "Cupid and Pysche," which demonstrates how bravery can be the root of transformations.
2. "Beauty and the Beast" I: The Sleeping Prince
July 21, 2017
Dr. Harvey introduces you to a Norse tale called "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." This story introduces us to the theme of transformation - a theme that is both scary and exciting, and is a common in folktales to help us understand how we grow and change, and to teach the lesson that looks can be deceiving.
1. "Sleeping Beauty": Once Upon a Time
July 21, 2017
Get introduced to folktales and the various classifications as Dr. Harvey introduces you to the wide world of folklore. You'll hear the 1697 Charles Perrault version of "Sleeping Beauty" and take a deep dive into the meaning behind the symbolism and the importance differences between this story and the Grimm version we are more familiar with. #Literature & Learning
Where to Watch A Children's Guide to Folklore and Wonder Tales
A Children's Guide to Folklore and Wonder Tales is available for streaming on the The Great Courses Signature Collection website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch A Children's Guide to Folklore and Wonder Tales on demand at Amazon Prime, Amazon and Kanopy.
  • Premiere Date
    July 21, 2017