St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner, and there are some really wonderful books about Ireland out there. These are some of my faves. Starting off, we have a classic, St. Patrick's Day in the Morning, a story of a young boy who wants more than anything to walk his town's St. Patty's Day parade but his older brothers think he is too little. The use of green in every illustration is really nice, and the pictures give a real world image of Irish village life.
Fiona's Luck is one of my favorite books about the Emerald Isle. In this magical tale, all of Ireland's luck has been stolen by the Fairy King, and the Irish people are suffering because of his greed. Fiona is one clever girl and tricks the Fairy King in to restoring Ireland's luck. This is a great one for introducing themes in Irish folk tales. It is a story about the Irish little people that veers away from being cheesy Darby O'Gill territory (even though, I'll admit that I love cheesy Darby O'Gill territory.)
Have you ever seen a picture of the Giant's causeway in Ireland? It's a coastline lined with columns of octagonal shaped rocks, and it's pretty striking. This is a classic Irish tale of how that causeway was formed long ago.
The fantastic world of the Irish supernatural is a rich world indeed. Each creature from the banshee to the leprechaun is a vivid character. A pooka is a shape-changing spirit that can bring good fortune or terrible damage depending on its mood. When Jamie O'Rouke's wife leaves him at home alone for a whole week, he is forced to cook and clean for himself. A very helpful pooka appears and is willing to help him with the chores (where's my house-cleaning pooka?! seriously.) This is such a silly story! It's going to get a lot of laughs and is a kid-friendly, not at all scary story.
Tomie dePaola has created a biography of St. Patrick that is on point with everything dePaola succeeds at creating over and over: material that is educational, fun, and engaging paired with pictures that are warm, happy, and colorful. This is great source material for an elementary school unit on Ireland.
This collection of Irish fairy tales is a MUST MUST MUST for any fan of Irish literature. It is considered a book for adults, but so many of the stories are so interesting and original that I think older kids, maybe upper elementary and middle schoolers, would connect with this too. Every character in Irish folk lore is here with vivid, detailed stories that possess that special Irish story telling knack for mixing chilling/sometimes scary/sometimes surprising/always humorous into each story.
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