This is our catalog of courses. We will occasionally adjust the course listing to reflect the addition of new courses and the retirement of others. 

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Short Stories and Tall Tales: Why Storytelling Matters

Ever wonder what the difference is between a fairytale and a fable? How about a myth and legend? Sign up for this exciting course where we will explore a selection of folktales from around the world, discover some of the recurring patterns and universal themes behind short stories, and even learn how to spin a few yarns of our own!

Total classes: 12

Prerequisite: None

Suggested grade level: 6th to 8th grades 

Suggested credit: One full semester credit of Literature. Follow in the spring semester with the course The Power of Poetry for a full year credit of Literature. 

Special notes: For a full year of literature, also register for The Power of Poetry offered in the Spring semester.


Come with us on an investigation into the importance of storytelling across time and place. Students will learn about folklore classification by studying a selection of myths, fables, fairy tales, and legends. We will then take what we have learned about folklore types and recurring motifs and apply it to several short stories from modern masters of the genre. Prepare to enjoy some old favorites and some new ones as we ponder the purpose of stories to entertain us, illuminate our understanding, and teach valuable lessons.


Class 1 September 3rd: Introduction. We will discuss a few very well-known tales.

Class 2 September 10th: Fables from Aesop to Africa.

Class 3 September 17th: Myths and Legends from Long Ago

Class 4 September 24th: “Once Upon a Time.” European Fairy Tales

Class 5 October 1st: More Legends and Tall Tales

Class 6 October 15th: Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

Class 7 October 22nd: Original Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen

Class 8 October 29th: Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”

Class 9 November 5th: Mark Twain’s “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”

Class 10 November 12th: Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace”

Class 11 November 19th: G.K. Chesterton’s “The Invisible Man”

Class 12 December 3rd: Final projects and reflections

Materials and Homework

Materials: Reading assignments for each week will be will be available as PDFs.

Homework: Before the first class, students will take a short survey on folktales to encourage their critical thinking skills. Thereafter, students should expect about one to two hours of homework each week outside of the classroom, reading one or more stories depending upon length, completing the corresponding weekly comprehension quizzes, and contributing to an online discussion board. There is also a Final Project. Students will choose their hands-on project idea at the beginning of the course for instructor approval. This may include, but is not limited to, a PowerPoint Presentation, illustrated storyboard with captions, fan fiction, or musical presentation. Prepare to be enlightened!

Important Dates

Class dates: Tuesdays, September 3 to December 3, 2024. (No class Oct. 8th & Nov. 26th)

Starting time: 1:00 PM Eastern (Noon Central, 11:00 Mountain, 10:00 Pacific)

Duration: 45 minutes

Choose from courses in all subject areas for your upper grade school, middle school, and high school student—taught by worldwide experts in Catholic education.
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