Category Archives: Library Summer Reading Programs

If you are digging around a special event to be part of your library’s 2013 Summer Reading Program, here’s all the dirt!

Ready, Set, Read!


photoI’m Storyteller Mary Grace Ketner, and I have plenty of active adventures for your Summer Reading Club!

Run a marathon with me through 398.2 ! We’ll tackle stories of courage and skill and cleverness, winning traits admired by folks long ago and far away as much as here and now.

Yes! Traditional folk tales and fairy tales from fascinating cultures all around the world plot their hero’s journey through these shelves. Let me spin your young patrons some stories to give them courage and confidence and remind us all that our world is composed of diverse human beings who can all be winners.

“The next day my 398.2’s were just flying off the shelves!”–Dawn Burbach, Librarian, Harlingen TX CISD


What are your story programs like?

My sessions consist of folktales, fairy tales and legends shared aloud in the oral tradition. Click on an age range in the menu above to view sample story programs for each age group.

How much do your programs cost?

My fees for summer reading programs in Bexar County and south Texas are here, and I’ll be glad to give you a quote if your library is elsewhere. I’ve posted rates that save you money if  you share my trip with a nearby library.

tca_horizontal_blue_tagI am on the Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Artist Roster so funding is available to cover up to half of the cost. Read about TCA’s Arts Respond Performance Support Grants.

The grant application deadline for summer performances occurring June 14 or earlier is February 1. The deadline for programs presented June 15 – August 31 is May 1.

MAAA-logo-colorI am also on the Mid-America Arts Alliance Artist Registry; libraries in Arkansas,Kansas, Oklahoma or Nebraska may read about M-AAA grant information  here.

So, what do I do next?

Just let me know!  I’ll answer any questions you may have, and we can set a date!

Write me at mgk at or call me at 210-887-0628.

Read more about me at or enjoy The Fairy Tale Lobby, a fairy tale interest blog which Megan Hicks and I write together.

2016 Collaborative Summer Library Program Themes are:

For children: Ready, Set, Read!

For Teens: Get in the Game: Read

For Adults: Exercise Your Mind: Read

Learn more about CSLP here or watch some recorded activity ideas from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission here.


Z is for Jack Zipes





Retired professor of German and European Studies at U-Minn Jack Zipes is a translator and mediator of Fairy Tales, a purveyor of wonder and hope. Fairy Tales, he says, offer glimpses of how one may become master of one’s own fate.

When a storyteller does the scholarly detective work to draw parallels between story and social significance and grasps the metaphors, the tales work their magic. They begin “to awaken our regard for the miraculous condition of life and to evoke profound feelings of awe and respect for life as a miraculous process which can be altered or changed….”

Wonder, hope, awe, respect, . . . here we come!

Zipes, Jack, Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion. Routledge Classics, 2011.

Zipes, Jack, The Golden Age of Folk and Fairy Tales: From the Brothers Grimm to Andrew Lang. Hackett Publishing Co., 2013.

Zipes Jack, The Irresistable Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre. Princeton University Press, 2013.

Y is for Young Listeners

 Illustration by L. Leslie Brooke, Frederick Warne & Co. 1904.

Illustration by L. Leslie Brooke, Frederick Warne & Co. 1904.




For the youngest listeners there is a special genre called Nursery Tales. Not Mother Goose rhymes, not fingerplays, but fully story, these tales amuse, frighten or satisfy tots and stimulate cognitive play in ways that are quite visible and exciting to the storyteller. Classics for two- and three-year olds are “Three Little Pigs,” “Goldilocks,” “The Gunniwolf,” “Little Red Hen,” “Gingerbread Man,” “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” and others.

Unlike nursery rhymes and fingerplays, which are important and wonderful, Nursery Tales lay the groundwork for the concept of story, and—preaching to the choir, here!—story is what makes us human.

One of these will be “just right!”: a wonderful small collection with a CD, a collection by one of America’s favorite illustrators, and a worldwide collection.

Lupton, Hugh, The Story Tree: Tales to Read Aloud, illustrated by Sophie Fatus. (Includes CD of the tales told by Hugh Lupton.) Barefoot Books 2009.

Scarry, Richard, Richard Scarry’s Best Nursery Tales Ever. Golden Books 2014.

Sierra, Judy, Nursery Tales Around the World, Illustrated by Stefano Vitale. Clarion, 1996.

X is for X-men

Illustration by H. J. Ford in Andrew Lang's Yellow Fairy Book, 1894.

Illustration by H. J. Ford in Andrew Lang’s Yellow Fairy Book, 1894.



Before there was Stan Lee, there were X-men, mutant heroes. Storytellers call them “magical friends” for, with their mutant capabilities and unnatural powers, they befriend the hero in his quest. When I tell “The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship,” I call the seven heroes Hearsalot, Runsalot, Shootsalot, Eatsalot, and—by the time the last three arrive, kids are joining in: “Drinksalot!” “Strawsalot!” “Sticksalot!”

Without them, the Fool of the World could never have brought back the water of life from the well at the world’s end or foiled the Tsar’s tricks or married the Tsarevna!

Hooray for X-men!

Your quest for mutant heroes ends here: a picture book, a Classic Russian Collection, and a beloved Andrew Lang:

Ransome, Arthur, The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, illustrated by Uri Schulevitz. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1968.

Ransome, Arthur, Old Peter’s Russian Tales. Mellon Press, 2008.

Lang, Andrew, The Yellow Fairy Book, illustrated by H. J. Ford. Reprinted by Flying Chipmunk Publishing, 2009. (Also available for Kindle and on the Gutenberg Project.)

U is for Ugly Duckling

Illustration by T. van Hoytema. Amsterdam, 1893

Illustration by T. van Hoytema. Amsterdam, 1893


The Ugly Duckling may be the most imitated literary folktale on earth! How many children’s books tell of an ugly or clumsy outcast finding his or her reward at last, becoming loved, appreciated, even envied? The short-necked giraffe, the swallow who couldn’t fly, the too-fast turtle, . . . all will surely blossom and find their place in the world, and those who judged them early may be shamed–which Andersen did not deign to do.

Without the consummate writing skills of a prose master such as Andersen, most fall by the wayside. But, never fear! More are on the way!

Beautify your shelves with the Ugly Duckling!

Andersen, Hans Christian, The Ugly Duckling, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Scholastic, 2000.

Andersen, Hans Christian, El Patito Feo, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Scholastic, Rayo, 2007.

Andersen, Hans Christian, The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen, translated and with an introduction by Maria Tatar, with contributing text by Julie Allen. W.W. Norton & Company, 2007.

T is for Tam Lin

John D. Batten illustrated Joseph Jacobs' Fairy Tale books, including this image from his 1894 More English Fairy Tales.

John D. Batten illustrated Joseph Jacobs’ Fairy Tale books, including this image from his 1894 More English Fairy Tales.




This is another misnamed tale, for the story is about Janet. Oh, Tam LIn has been through a great deal, but that’s another story!

In this one, it is Janet who challenges the words on the well; Janet who calls Tam Lin; Janet who smiles and takes his hand, promising her maidenhood; Janet who returns at midnight; Janet who braves the lizard, the snake, the lion, the bear, the cold iron, the molten lead; Janet who rescues her love; Janet who takes Tam Lin home to marry.

I am willing to compromise; I call the tale “Janet and Tam Lin.”

Which Tam Lin? Consider a novel, a YA, and a juvenile retelling:

Dean, Pamela, Tam Lin, with an introduction by Terri Windling. Firebird (Reissue) 2006.

Jones, Diana Wynne, Fire and Hemlock. HarperTeen, 2002.

Yolen, Jane, Tam Lin, illustrated by Charles Mikolaycak. HMH Books for Young Readers, 1998.


My version of Janet and Tam Lin is on my Web site.

S is for Scheherazade

"Scheherazade went on with her story" by Virginia Frances Sterrett. The Arabian Nights, Penn Publishing Company, 1928.

“Scheherazade went on with her story” by Virginia Frances Sterrett from The Arabian Nights, Penn Publishing Company, 1928.




When I first visited a mosque, I suddenly understood Scheherazade—how she had to save not just herself and Dunyazad, but all the women.

Stepping into the women’s room, awkward and barefoot, I felt instantly, abundantly, embraced, as though I’d been longed for and had arrived! The women caressed me, subsumed me, spoke to me in Farsi with desperate affection, re-wrapped my scarf properly, showed me, cued me, clued me, guided my arms, moved my hands, touched hips as we prostrated ourselves to pray.

Aha! This joyous room of women was part of – the heart of – Scheherazade’s own being.

Embrace these volumes of Scheherazade’s magic: a new translation, a student volume, and a “sequel” for puzzle lovers.


The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights: Volumes 1, 2 & 3 (Penguin Classics), translated by Malcolm Lyons and Ursula Lyons, with an introduction by Robert Irwin.  Penguin, 2010.

McCaughrean, Geraldine, One Thousand and One Arabian Nights (Oxford Story Collections) illustrated by Rosamund Fowler. Oxford University Press, USA, 2000.

Smullyan, Raymond M., The Riddle of Scheherazade: And Other Amazing Puzzles, Ancient and Modern. Knopf, 2012.nightscd



And now you know where the cover art for my Storytelling World Honors Award-winning CD came from!

R is for Red Riding Hood


Maxfield Parrish’s LRR graced the program cover for a theatre production in 1897.



James Thurber did not just fracture the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood,” he shattered it with this outrageous ending:

She had approached no nearer than twenty-five feet from the bed when she saw that it was not her grandmother but the wolf, for even in a nightcap a wolf does not look any more like your grandmother than the Metro-Goldwyn lion looks like Calvin Coolidge. So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.

(Moral: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.)


Grand -librarian, what a big shelf of 398.2 you have!

Pinkney, Jerry, Little Red Riding Hood. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2007.

Thurber, James, Fables for Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated. Harper Perennial, 1990.

Starbright Foundation (with various celebrities), Once upon a Fairy Tale: Four Favorite Stories. Viking Juvenile, 2001.)

Q is for Queens

“Ah, we shall soon see that!” said the queen mother, however, she said not a word of what she was going to do . . .  Illustration for “The Princess and the Pea,” by Edward Dulac from the Snow Queen and Other Stories from Hans Christian Andersen, 1911.

“Ah, we shall soon see that!” said the queen mother, however, she said not a word of what she was going to do . . .” Illustration for “The Princess and the Pea,” by Edward Dulac from the Snow Queen and Other Stories from Hans Christian Andersen, 1911.



Metaphorically speaking–and fairy tales are metaphorical, so let’s do!–Queens are women in midlife.

They have aging issues as they watch their beautiful daughters blossom.

They have princely sons to marry off to a worthy bride—by hook or crook.

They have husbands with midlife crises whom they must nurture or manipulate back into a healthier relationship.

And, suddenly, they have stepdaughters more charming and lovable than their own snooty brats!

So, they behave just like living, breathing human women do in our 40s and 50s.

No snickering, gentlemen! At least not until you’ve read about fairy tale kings!

Have you shelved these queens?

Brothers Grimm, Snow White, illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia. Harper Design, 2012.

“Clever Manka” and “The Lute Player” may be found in . . .
Phelps, Ethel Johnston, Tatterhood and Other Tales. The Feminist Press at CUNY, 1993.

The Princess and the Pea retold by Xanthe Gresham, illustrated by Miss Clara. Barefoot Books, 2013.





“The Lute Player” is also on my CD Ghostly Gals and Spirited Women. If your Texas library does not have a copy, let me know and I’ll see that they get one.


P is for Pushkin

photo 2

This tiny lacquer box from Mstera (2″ wide) illustrates The Tale of the Dead Princess, or The Princess and the Seven Bogatyrs. Unlike Pushkin’s other tales, it was not previously a Russian classic, but rather the Grimm’s Snow White retold by a consummate writer. Now, Russians claim it as their own!




Like Browning or Spenser, Longfellow or Poe, Russian poet Alexander Pushkin created a body of narrative poetry. He drew from the Russian Wonder Tales, setting them in the more “academically respectable” form of poetry and paving the way for the high art of opera by Rimsky-Korsakov and others. Look for Tsar Saltan, The Golden Cockerel, Ruslan and Ludmilla, Tale of the Dead Princess, Fisherman and the Golden Fish . . .

I often introduce Russian folktales with imagery from Pushkin’s evocative Prologue to Ruslan and Ludmilla, spoken in prose: “By the shores of a bay, there is a green oak tree . . .

Not to be pushy, but here are some Pushkin books you might like:

Lowenfeld, Julian Henry, author and translator, My Talisman: The Poetry and Life of Alexander Pushkin (English and Russian Edition). Green Lamp Press, 2010.

Pushkin, A.  S., Pushkin’s Fairy Tales. P-2, 2007.

Pushkin, Alexander Sergeyevitch Pushkin, Collected Narrative and Lyrical Poetry, translated by Walter Arndt. Overlook TP, 2009