I’m a lover of all things Irish and Picture books. St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect reason to bring them together. Below are a few of my very VERY favorites. I feel like I hold a pretty high standard for my picture books. If you’re looking for a new add to your classroom library or a picture book that works well in both the younger and older grades, check these lovelies out. If you are looking for ideas for St. Patrick’s Day, make sure to check out this post as well!
Fiona’s Luck: So much love for this one. Strong Irish girl, takes on the Leprechaun King. Instead of relying on luck she depends on her wit. Beautiful story, beautiful theme about believing in yourself and making your own luck.
O’Sullivan Stew: Another fun story starring a young Irish heroine that has to rely on her wits to outsmart a King! This one contains hints of Irish folklore that is sure to be appreciated by all. There is also a really sweet moral to be taken away about being kind to everyone. “Everyone is One of Us.”
Brave Margaret: An Irish Adventure: A young Irish Heroine who takes charge of her fate… Are you noticing a theme in my recommendations… also do you notice any similarities to Brave Margaret and another BRAVE princess??? The illustrations are really something else. This book is based on an old traditional Irish story where a prince instead of a princess needs the saving.
Clever Tom and the Leprechaun: Though the Leprechaun’s stature may not be quite right please notice that he is wearing red, with a leather apron! Before we commercialized St. Patrick’s Day this is how leprechauns were described, I love that the look is consistent! This story is an absolute classic that illustrates just how clever a leprechaun is and how hard it would be to outsmart one.
Tim O’ Toole and the Wee Folk: This one makes the list for sticking to Irish Folktale. Love that it correctly refers to the leprechauns as the wee people, and that they stay true to their mischievous slightly dangerous…er violent… nature. Students love it, and it’s a great book for teaching idioms.
Fin M’Coul: The Giant of Knockmany Hill: There are many stories about this Irish Giant that have been passed down for years and years. This story highlights an Irish couple that outsmarts the Giant Fin M’Coul. You can’t go wrong with Tomie De Paola illustratoins! However, if you are looking for a story that sticks to the Fin M’Coul legends you may be interested in this Fin M’Coul story as well!
Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland: I love this introduction to Saint Patrick’s life. This book is religious in nature, simply because the life of Saint Patrick was filled with divine inspiration. I love that Tomie De Paola also tells of the fictional legends that surrounded Saint Patrick’s life, like the removal of snakes from the country. I appreciate that you can pick up on the themes from his life such as never giving up, even if the people around you are telling you to. Remarkable man, remarkable life.
A Fine St. Patrick’s Day: This is a really sweet story and the takeaway and conversation you can have with your class is wonderful. The story is essentially about two cities that compete in a decorating contest every St. Patrick’s Day. One city continues to dominate the competition, this year the other city has a great chance at victory however a stranger comes along and they have to make a tough decision. Great for discussing the importance of being kind, and serving others.
The Irish Cinderlad: Irish Cinderella, with a MALE protagonist! LOVE LOVE LOVE. Great story, that actually combines two Irish Folklores. Perfect to compare and contrast with the more well known telling of Cinderella, (ahem my favorite Disney Princess… we all have one.) Having courage to overcome seems to be a similar theme you can find in both stories! I think you will be surprised with who take on the Fairy Godmother’s role!
S is for Shamrock: Possibly my favorite of the lot. You get a bit of Irish everything with this one: legends, facts, history, sites…etc! Upper grades don’t count this out because it’s an alphabet book. Younger grades don’t count it out because I mentioned Upper grades…
With each letter you get a brief summarized statement, perfect for younger grades, as well as a detailed explanation that delves deeper into the letter’s topic. Perfect informational text for the upper grade ages! Also the illustrations are stunning. See the example of one of the illustrations from this book to the left. Don’t let the simple cover fool you. The pictures are incredibly detailed.
Rince (Ring’-Ka): The Fairytale of Irish Dance: More suited to younger grades, this story aims to tell the origin of Irish Dancing. Interestingly, very little is know about where Irish dancing began. This fun story suggests an ancient dance battle between the fairy race and Irish people.
Too Many Fairies: A Celtic Tale: Another sweet story more suited for younger grades. This is a fun little story adapted from a Celtic Tale with lots of repetition, opportunity for actions, and fun onomatopoeias. The story is essentially about an older Irish woman who despises housework, (anybody else just make a connection?) she complains, and to her surprise fairies arrive to “help”. If your studying folk-tales in younger grades, this is sure to be a delight!
The O’Brien Book of Irish Fairy Tales and Legends: A wonderful collection of Irish mythology, legends, and folk-talkes. You will appreciate the pronunciation guide in the back and the beautiful illustrations. Read ancient tales of giants, the fairy race, and the wee folk!
Celtic Tales: Fairy Tales and Stories of Enchantment from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales: Another collection of folk-tales and legends! I especially love the modern take on the simple, yet detailed illustrations. I also appreciate that the collection of stories have been organized into categories: Tricksters, The Sea, Quests, and Romance. Justify the hardcover on this one, its absolutely beautiful. I may have saved the best for last, this book is as charming as it is beautiful!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you I will earn a small commission if you click through and purchase.
Did I miss any of your favorites? Any books that I’m introducing for the first time?
Can’t wait, THANKS!