Sacred Myths: Stories of World Religions by Marilyn MacFarlane When I was in the sixth grade at a religious school, my teacher skipped the brief pages on other religions at the beginning of our religion text. She was trying to teach us Christianity, not those other false religions.
For those who want their children to have a somewhat broader exposure to the world’s many religious traditions, I recommend this book. Each of seven major world religions is given a one-page summary, including its version of the Golden Rule in large and decorative type. While Mr. FP had no patience for these sections, he was mesmerized by the five myths told for each religion. All are illustrated with images from appropriate religious art enmeshed in bright graphic design – hard to describe, but interesting to look at. Religions included are Buddhism, Hindusim, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Native American and Sacred Earth. Stories include the births of Buddha, Ganesh, Mohammed and Jesus, as well as many less well-known stories; a pre-Hellenic retelling of Demeter and Persephone, where Persephone goes willingly to the Underworld to help the spirits there; and Mr. FP’s favorite, “How Grandmother Spider Stole the Sun.” The stories are engagingly told and brief enough to work for older preschoolers (OK, my preschooler – Publisher’s Weekly says age 10… judge your own child) up through adult. It also includes a helpful pronunciation guide, glossary, and books for further reading. For educators, her website says that she also has a classroom guide available, with questions for discussion as well as explanations of all the symbols in the pictures. I’ve not seen the guide, but the stories are well worth reading.