Myths and legends

Kai and the Monkey King

Across all cultures, myth and legend stories have been told for hundreds of years – usually told and retold to entertain and to educate. Here is a selection of the best books about, or inspired by, myths and legends from across the world.

  • Old Gods New Tricks

    Author: Thiago de Moraes
    Publisher: David Fickling Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Can Trixie dos Santos trick five all-powerful gods into helping her save the world? Packed with characters from myths and legends from across the world, this is an action-packed, magical adventure. 

  • Goddesses and Heroines: Women of Myth and Legend

    Author: Xanthe Gresham-Knight Illustrator: Alice Pattullo
    Publisher: Thames & Hudson
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    In this gorgeous book featuring the stories of thirteen goddesses from different cultures – Sumeria (now Iraq), China, Mexico, Japan, Nigeria, Greece, Ireland and many more – Xanthe Gresham-Knight reminds us of the powerful women of myth and legend who have always had our backs.  

  • Kai and the Monkey King

    Author: Joe Todd-Stanton
    Publisher: Flying Eye Books
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 5+

    Professor Brownston recounts the story of two ancestors, whose quest to observe and document mythical phenomena leads them across ancient China. A compelling picture book, sure to captivate young readers who enjoy fantasy adventure tales.

  • Monkey King and the World of Myths: The Monster and the Maze

    Author: Maple Lam
    Publisher: Hachette
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 7+

    Sun Wukong, legendary monkey king and warrior, faces an ancient evil which threatens the world. Join him on a wild and comical adventure as he battles the monsters of ancient Greece. 

  • Oh Maya Gods

    Author: Maz Evans
    Publisher: Chicken House
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Super-sporty Vesper and super-bright Aster are cousins and now reluctant partners in stopping Kizin, the Maya god of death, from killing everyone in the world. A brilliant adventure full of action and humour… and chocolate!

  • The Last Mapmaker

    Author: Christina Soontornvat
    Publisher: Walker Books
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Apprentice mapmaker, 12-year-old Sai, joins an expedition to sail the southern seas and chart new lands, but how much is she willing to risk in order to make her fortune? This Thai-inspired fantasy adventure is a thrilling and thought-provoking read.

  • Coyote's Soundbite

    Author: John Agard Illustrator: Piet Grobler
    Publisher: Lantana
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 6+

    Six Earth Goddesses call a meeting to discuss what is to be done about humans inflicting catastrophic environmental damage to the planet. Coyote, disguised as his wife, joins the meeting - and feels compelled to speak out.

  • African & Caribbean Folktales, Myths & Legends

    Author: Wendy Shearer Illustrator: Andrea Pippins
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    In this collection you will find creation myths, trickster tales, stories about shapeshifters and gods, and many more – some funny, some thrilling. An excellent introduction to African and Caribbean folklore.

  • The House With Chicken Legs

    Author: Sophie Anderson
    Publisher: Usborne
    Interest age: 10-13
    Reading age: 9+

    A story of death, magic and the afterlife told by Marinka, who is desperate not to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps and wants to find her own destiny. Loosely based on the Slavic myth of Baba Yaga, this story is delightfully macabre and utterly engrossing.

  • Myth Atlas: Maps and Monsters, Heroes and Gods from Twelve Mythological Worlds

    Author: Thiago de Moraes
    Publisher: Alison Green Books
    Interest age: 6-10
    Reading age: 7+

    The mythological worlds of 12 cultures from Ireland to Japan, Polynesia to the mythos of the Hindu world are explored here in a beautiful collection, which helps children to celebrate and respect the wonderful differences in the way people see the world.

  • The Atlas of Monsters: Mythical Creatures from Around the World

    Author: Stuart Hill and Sandra Lawrence
    Publisher: Big Picture Press
    Interest age: 7-11
    Reading age: 8+

    The Atlas of Monsters takes the interesting angle of looking at each continent from the point of view of its traditional mythology, and also introduces the book itself as a mysterious source object to be investigated inside a story of strange discovery.

  • Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Taking the Blame

    Author: Louie Stowell
    Publisher: Walker
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8-9

    Can Loki – god of mischief and prankster schoolboy – convince everyone that he didn’t steal Thor’s hammer? Bursting with illustrations, doodles and comic strips, this is an equally funny sequel to the hilarious Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good.

  • Children of the Quicksands

    Author: Efua Traoré
    Publisher: Chicken House
    Interest age: 9-13
    Reading age: 9+

    A glorious mix of Yoruba myths and legends infused with the joy, adventure, culture and exuberance of Nigeria all wrapped up in a tense, magical thriller.

  • Vivi Conway and the Sword of Legend

    Author: Lizzie Huxley-Jones
    Publisher: Knights Of
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    Vivi must use her newfound powers to stop a ruthless tyrant from destroying the human world. This enthralling magical adventure seamlessly blends ancient Welsh mythology with a diverse cast of characters in a contemporary setting.

  • The Táin

    Author: Alan Titley Illustrator: Eoin Coveney
    Publisher: Little Island Books
    Interest age: 12+
    Reading age: 11+

    A gory re-telling of Ireland’s traditional battle epic, with many gruesome details of the violence that the warrior Cúchulainn inflicts on his enemies. Suitable for older children, this is a prose version of the myth that explores courage, jealousy and the futility of violence.

  • Greek Myths

    Author: Jean Menzies Illustrator: Katie Ponder
    Publisher: DK
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    A wealth of Greek myths and legends are told engagingly and simply in this gorgeously illustrated hardback, filled with colourful, graphic illustration by Katie Ponder. 

  • Who Let the Gods Out?

    Author: Maz Evans
    Publisher: Chicken House
    Interest age: 9-13
    Reading age: 10+

    A quirky fantasy adventure in which a human boy and a Greek goddess accidentally release an immortal supervillain who is determined to take over the world - and maybe even the universe.

  • Momo Arashima: Steals the Sword of the Wind

    Author: Misa Sugiura
    Publisher: Puffin
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    A thrilling fantasy adventure exploring the rich mythology of Japan and the intense feelings of a lonely girl.

  • South Asian Folktales, Myths and Legends

    Author: Sarah Shaffi
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 8+

    Anyone looking to escape into a world of battling princesses, scary ogres, heroic warriors, wily animals, and even ordinary people doing extraordinary things, should take a look inside this beautiful compilation of traditional tales from across South Asia.

  • Egyptology

    Author: Dugald Steer and Nick Harris Illustrator: Helen Ward
    Publisher: Templar Publishing
    Interest age: 8+
    Reading age: 8+

    Brimming with information about Ancient Egypt with lovely interactive features