The best fable books

4 authors have picked their favorite books about fables and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Aesop's Fables for Little Children (Story Collections for Little Children)

By Various,

Book cover of Aesop's Fables for Little Children (Story Collections for Little Children): 1

I like reading a lot of animal stories and Aesop’s Fables is definitely on top of my list. The Town Mouse and Country Mouse fable is my favorite. When I was young, I never got to appreciate it but reading it as a grown-up, I can totally relate to how Town Mouse and Country Mouse felt about their hometowns. For me, no matter what place I travel to, I will still always prefer to live in my hometown. I recommend this version in particular because it’s geared towards younger readers. The morals are indicated at the start of every story to guide the readers on what lesson is being taught. I love the aesthetic of this book as well. It has a beautiful painterly and cartoony style to it.


Who am I?

I’m a Filipino illustrator who draws children’s books for both publishers and for private commissions. I also have been reading children’s books as part of my job. My go-to children's stories are often about animals and nature. I hope you'll like the books on this list as much as I do!


I wrote...

The Puppy Who Lost His Woof

By Niccolo Alvendia, Mike Amante (illustrator),

Book cover of The Puppy Who Lost His Woof

What is my book about?

Pickle was always a happy and playful puppy. One day, he wakes up feeling unwell. He cannot bark. He has lost his woof. Join him on his adventure as he searches for his woof, greeting numerous animal friends along the way, including cheerful rhymes. This tale is not only entertaining but also educational, showing preschoolers different ways of greeting individuals as well as different animals and their sounds. The search for Pickle’s woof also displays the importance of family and friends.

The Thousand Faces of Night

By Githa Hariharan,

Book cover of The Thousand Faces of Night

I was given this book thirty years ago by an Indian poet, who promised me I would love it. It is a feast of stories, told to the central character Devi throughout her life. Through her grandmother’s ancient stories, she learns about love, beauty, riches, and womanhood. Her father-in-law tells her stories that teach her about life, how to survive her lonely marriage, how to belong. Stories and dreams give her wealth and power, but they evaporate and still she is there, empty, alone, and desperate for the love that the old stories are about. 

Two other women’s stories weave through the narrative. Her mother Seta, and her husband’s old retainer, Mayamma share exotic tales of ancient India, Gods, mysteries, magic, and rituals. 

The Thousand Faces of Night is trancelike and beautiful.


Who am I?

Much of my writing is influenced by Fairy Stories. Sometimes I retell the stories in my own words, sometimes I create my own, and sometimes, as in Rose Doran Dreams, I weave them into the narrative so that they shape the central character in a way that affects or explains her development. There is a darkness about Fairy Stories that fascinates me, that gives psychological depth to a character or a narrative as I write. I am dizzy with the notion that Fairy Stories don’t belong to the teller or the writer, the listener or the reader; they transcend time and place. 


I wrote...

Rose Doran Dreams

By Berlie W. Doherty,

Book cover of Rose Doran Dreams

What is my book about?

As a child, Rose was fed fairy stories by her brother, and then her teacher. Her favourite was The Fisherman and His Wife, about the magic fish and the woman who rejects all that her wishes bring. But it is Rose who faces rejection, from her parents, her teacher, her lover the dancer, her stolen child, her husband. Her strange, exotic neighbour Paedic is a fantasist, and in their shared stories and dreams Rose finds a kind of fulfillment. As their stories become darker and more disturbing she begins to lose touch with reality.

The Lion & the Mouse

By Jerry Pinkney,

Book cover of The Lion & the Mouse

Jerry Pinkney beautifully tackles Aesop’s fable, The Lion & the Mouse. His version is wordless except for a few, potent calls from the animals in the savanna. Pinkney’s luminous watercolor illustrations depict alive and intricate landscapes and animals. Life is shown to be rich, beautiful, and dangerous as a mouse narrowly escapes the talons of an owl, only to stumble upon a magnificent lion. The lion kindly sets the mouse free, and later in the story when the lion is captured by hunters, the mouse hears his mighty roar and comes to his aid, nibbling away the ropes. Once released the lion and the mouse return to their families. I love how this story reflects the inter-dependency of all of us, and how we all matter for the well-being of the other, no matter the size or status of any one individual.


Who are we?

The subject of friendship can be explored endlessly, as every friendship is unique. I am especially drawn to stories of unlikely friendships that look at the surprising and interesting ways that we show up for one another. One of the things that I see in all of the stories that Giselle and I have chosen, is that these unusual friendships make a difficult, awkward, or downright scary world a better place to be. 


We wrote and illustrated...

Olive & Pekoe: In Four Short Walks

By Jacky Davis, Giselle Potter (illustrator),

Book cover of Olive & Pekoe: In Four Short Walks

What is our book about?

Olive & Pekoe: In Four Short Walks is the story of two dogs taking daily walks together and is told in four vignettes. Olive is very old and wise, and Pekoe is rambunctious and inexperienced, and even though they are significantly different, they are still the best of friends. Together they explore the woods, enjoy sticks, get caught in bad weather, and confront a mean bully in a dog park.

A starred Kirkus review, calls the book, “A delight.” And says, “Illustrator Potter’s impressively expressive naïve-style watercolor, ink and colored-pencil illustrations perfectly nuance author Davis’ witty text.”

Henderson the Rain King

By Saul Bellow,

Book cover of Henderson the Rain King

This comical journey into the heart of a mythical Africa was compared to the Odyssey and Don Quixote by Newsweek. “I am a high-spirited kind of guy,” Eugene Henderson says. “And it’s the destiny of my generation of Americans to go out in the world and try to find the wisdom of life.” I read Henderson the Rain King in high school, and it stayed with me when I joined the Peace Corps after college and journeyed to Africa. I couldn’t get Henderson’s refrain— “I want I want I want”—out of my head. What I wanted was experience. Adventure. To live free. Bellow’s picaresque book—his ideas, his imagination—was a beam lighting the path that I wanted to take as a writer.


Who am I?

We come to books at different ages, and some of them are more special than others for our own growth and development. I became a writer because of books that influenced me and sparked my imagination. When I became a teacher, I passed on my enthusiasm. I have written 31 books and have taught writing and literature on the college level in the Peace Corps, at Antioch, and UCLA. I’ve interviewed three of the five writers whose books I’m recommending and would have tried to interview Jack London and James Joyce if I had lived when they were alive. These 5 books made me laugh, cry, sing, and dream. They expanded my consciousness.


I wrote...

You Show Me Yours: A Writer's Journey From Brooklyn to Hollywood via 5 Continents, 30 Years, and the Incomparable Sixties

By Lawrence Grobel,

Book cover of You Show Me Yours: A Writer's Journey From Brooklyn to Hollywood via 5 Continents, 30 Years, and the Incomparable Sixties

What is my book about?

Lawrence Grobel’s energetic memoir begins with his near kidnapping in Brooklyn, his early sex education on Long Island, and winning an essay contest to meet President Kennedy. In college, he’s mentored by Trotsky’s last bodyguard, becomes Anthony Kiedis’ godfather, and marches with Martin Luther King, Jr. In the Peace Corps, he confers with jujumen and fetish priests. He marries a Japanese artist, creates an MFA program in Writing for Antioch, and is named “The Mozart of Interviewers” by Joyce Carol Oates after his Playboy interviews with Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Marlon Brando, and Al Pacino.

It's a journey through the Looking Glass of American Culture from the post-War ‘50s, the sexually liberated ‘60s, the Civil Rights Movement, and the “Me Decade.” Diane Keaton calls this book “Profoundly entertaining and extremely insane!”

The Whale Who Wanted More

By Rachel Bright, Jim Field (illustrator),

Book cover of The Whale Who Wanted More

The theme of this book is universal. Many of us have always desired more and find little solace in what we have, when what we have is truly all we need. The Whale Who Wanted More reflects a society that needs too much of everything and never has enough. The book tells the story of not living the life one should and depriving ourselves of real happiness only because we think we need more. Humphrey the whale wonders in the deep blue too busy and stressed to think about what he really wants in life. 


Who am I?

I enjoy stories with morals & adventure! The animal kingdom has always been a favourite of children around the world, and a perfect way of conveying these fables without boring the reader. My particular love for foxes has always been there but also extends to other forest creatures. They are always my first choice when picking a book that kids will love and also for my video game designs.

I wrote...

When Fitch Lost Summer - Autumn's Halloween

By Kevin Asla,

Book cover of When Fitch Lost Summer - Autumn's Halloween

What is my book about?

One day a young fox named Fitch awakens in a mysterious and fantasy-filled land called Autumn. Now, all alone he must find his way back home, back to Summer. He happens upon a new friend and sets off on a journey to find his world. Encountering many strange and magical things, Fitch learns a lot on his adventure about Autumn, Halloween, harvest, and bravery; but will it be enough to get him back to Summer?

The Wolf’s Secret

By Myriam Dahman, Nicolas Digard, Julia Sardà (illustrator)

Book cover of The Wolf’s Secret

The Wolf’s Secret tells a tale of friendship and sacrifice with beautiful drawings. A wolf is enchanted by a woman singing in a mythical forest. After her father passed away, she became silent. The wolf finds a way to communicate with her in human form, which puts his life at risk. It is not your typical fairy tale children's book; instead, it is mysterious and dark. The book's cover is stunning, and the pictures inside tell the story in an almost monochromatic way.


Who am I?

I enjoy stories with morals & adventure! The animal kingdom has always been a favourite of children around the world, and a perfect way of conveying these fables without boring the reader. My particular love for foxes has always been there but also extends to other forest creatures. They are always my first choice when picking a book that kids will love and also for my video game designs.

I wrote...

When Fitch Lost Summer - Autumn's Halloween

By Kevin Asla,

Book cover of When Fitch Lost Summer - Autumn's Halloween

What is my book about?

One day a young fox named Fitch awakens in a mysterious and fantasy-filled land called Autumn. Now, all alone he must find his way back home, back to Summer. He happens upon a new friend and sets off on a journey to find his world. Encountering many strange and magical things, Fitch learns a lot on his adventure about Autumn, Halloween, harvest, and bravery; but will it be enough to get him back to Summer?

The River Wife

By Heather Rose,

Book cover of The River Wife

In the words of the writer herself, "this is an adult fairy tale about rivers, time, and the mystery of love." I have never read anything like this little gem of a book that immerses you in the natural world to such an extent, I felt like I became half-aquatic during the reading of it. It made me want to run away and live in the Tasmanian wilderness by a river, but then again, I’m not half woman, half fish, like the protagonist of the book. A strange and wonderful read.


Who am I?

I hold a master's in writing modern stories based on ancient myth and have always been fascinated by the power of mythology and the idea of the archetypal subconscious, combine this with the wonders of the natural world and beautifully constructed sentences, and you have my dream read. All the books on this list, even though two are historical, have a modern sensibility, all celebrate the power of nature, and all are masterful in their execution. Enjoy!


I wrote...

Beneath the Mother Tree

By D.M. Cameron,

Book cover of Beneath the Mother Tree

What is my book about?

A gothic tale incorporating Irish mythology within a wild Australian landscape. This spine-chilling mystery is wrought with sensuousness, as these unforgettable characters take you on a dark and dreamlike journey into the boundaries of love and the concept of belonging.

Pierre

By Maurice Sendak,

Book cover of Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue

All of Maurice Sendak’s protagonists can be accused of making mischief, and feeling the pain afterward. How can you not sympathize with Max in Where the Wild Things Are or admire the sass of Really Rosie? But Pierre takes the cake for his obstinate indifference to the world. A cautionary tale for any child who just doesn’t care.

(Fun fact: One of my oldest friends in the world, Michael Perilstein, played the Lion in the off-Broadway production of Really Rosie in which Maurice Sendak’s Pierre was set to music by the great singer/songwriter Carole King.)


Who am I?

As the father of a (currently) 11-year-old boy, and having been a boy once myself, I understand that mischief-makers can be a pain in the neck and drive adults crazy. But today’s little mischief-makers are tomorrow’s independent thinkers. And we cannot expect children to channel their rambunctious energies into positive outcomes without first giving them the tools to do so. That’s why I wrote Stop and Smell the Cookies, so that readers can actually take control before their emotions get the better of them. It’s also why I compiled this list. Perhaps, if the main characters in these stories had stopped and smelled the cookies, some of them might have avoided their literary fates. Enjoy!

I wrote...

Stop and Smell the Cookies

By Gibson Frazier, Micah Player (illustrator),

Book cover of Stop and Smell the Cookies

What is my book about?

A picture book about a rambunctious boy who learns to manage his big feelings.

Sometimes Dash gets so excited that his chest feels warm and fuzzy, his toes dance, and his fingertips tickle the air. When that starts, he can’t seem to control what he does next, and often, trouble follows. Luckily, with a little help, Dash finds a way to slow himself down when big feelings threaten to take over. This joyous book engages the imagination and relaxes the mind, perfect for those who are impulsive like Dash, those who hold in their feelings, and everyone in between.

Good Night, Gorilla

By Peggy Rathmann,

Book cover of Good Night, Gorilla

Since primates make the best mischief-makers, it was inevitable that this book would end up on the list. As with Olivia, these animals, led by their fearless friend Gorilla, are driven by their curiosity. Just what is it like to sleep in a house? Their downfall comes because they are too polite and wish Mrs. Zookeeper a good night. I love that she’s so patient with them that she walks them all back to their enclosures, even holding Gorilla’s hand. 


Who am I?

As the father of a (currently) 11-year-old boy, and having been a boy once myself, I understand that mischief-makers can be a pain in the neck and drive adults crazy. But today’s little mischief-makers are tomorrow’s independent thinkers. And we cannot expect children to channel their rambunctious energies into positive outcomes without first giving them the tools to do so. That’s why I wrote Stop and Smell the Cookies, so that readers can actually take control before their emotions get the better of them. It’s also why I compiled this list. Perhaps, if the main characters in these stories had stopped and smelled the cookies, some of them might have avoided their literary fates. Enjoy!

I wrote...

Stop and Smell the Cookies

By Gibson Frazier, Micah Player (illustrator),

Book cover of Stop and Smell the Cookies

What is my book about?

A picture book about a rambunctious boy who learns to manage his big feelings.

Sometimes Dash gets so excited that his chest feels warm and fuzzy, his toes dance, and his fingertips tickle the air. When that starts, he can’t seem to control what he does next, and often, trouble follows. Luckily, with a little help, Dash finds a way to slow himself down when big feelings threaten to take over. This joyous book engages the imagination and relaxes the mind, perfect for those who are impulsive like Dash, those who hold in their feelings, and everyone in between.

The Alchemist

By Paulo Coelho,

Book cover of The Alchemist

The Alchemist is a perfect example of visionary/metaphysical fiction that transcends the boundaries of the five senses and opens readers to new thoughts and ideas. Combining the visible with the invisible, the ordinary with the sacred, The Alchemist tells the inspiring story of a shepherd boy’s journey to self-actualization. As a reader, I experienced first-hand the wisdom of the adage, “Listen to your heart” and was reminded that there is opportunity all around me if only I open my mind and heart to the omens scattered along my life path.


Who am I?

Books have the power to do so much more than to simply entertain. I believe it’s my job as a fiction writer to condense research of complex subjects into understandable language and then play it out in story. My Enter the Between fiction series introduces readers to the world of metaphysics—the bridge between the seen and the unseen, science, and spirituality—which serves as a key to understanding consciousness, death, and the meaning of life. I’ve spent twenty years researching contemporary paganism, holistic theory, quantum mechanics, and transpersonal psychology to come up with stories that bridge science and spirituality with paranormal, supernatural underpinnings, and contemplative messaging that aims toward a kinder, wiser, more peaceful world.


I wrote...

Between Will and Surrender

By Margaret Duarte,

Book cover of Between Will and Surrender

What is my book about?

Marjorie Veil has been conditioned to ignore her own truth, to give away her power, to subjugate in relationships with others, and to settle for the path of least resistance. But she has many surprises in store, for there are synchronistic forces at work in her life that, if she listens, will lead to her authentic heart and happiness. The seemingly impossible happens in the Los Padres National Forest where Marjorie goes on retreat to make sense of her life when she believes she is going insane. The innocence of the Native American orphan Marjorie befriends, as well as more mystery and adventure than she bargained for, show her how love can heal in what turns out to be a transformative spiritual quest.

Or, view all 27 books about fables

New book lists related to fables

All book lists related to fables

Bookshelves related to fables