Folktales for a Better World: Stories of Peace and Kindness

Folktales for a Better World: Stories of Peace and Kindness

Growing up in South London, children’s book author Elizabeth Laird always hungered for stories. Although her family praised her for being a voracious reader, her parents monitored what she read, frowning on fairy tales or anything supernatural.

Despite this, Laird developed a passion for folktales that she would carry into her adult life, first as a teacher, working in countries all over the world, and then as an author, penning more than 100 books with works that have been translated into 20 languages. 

Laird got the idea to start preserving folktales while visiting Ethiopia in 1996. While on Mount Entoto, overlooking the capital, Addis Ababa, she encountered an old man who “out of the blue” told her a fable about ants. “I suddenly realized there must be an enormous number of similar tales,” she recalls. 

The next day she rushed to the offices of the British Council, an international organization that specializes in cultural and educational programs, to propose a project. Soon, she was traversing the country in search of stories. Ultimately, the story-collecting effort amassed more than 300 Ethiopian folktales, now available in an online archive in both Amharic and English. 

In the years since, Laird has continued to track down stories from different corners of the world. Now, she has drawn on tales amassed over the years for her recent work, Folktales for a Better World, her seventh folktale collection.

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Folktales for a Better World: Stories of Peace and Kindness
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