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The Enduring Allure of Paul Bunyan Folklore

The Enduring Allure of Paul Bunyan Folklore

Folklore stories exist in almost all communities around the world. They are stories that are passed down orally from one generation to another within a particular community, culture, or group (Kittilä, 2020). I asked my friend Liam about his favorite classic children’s story, and he mentioned the Paul Bunyan folklore. He said that what appealed to him about the Paul Bunyan tales was the sense of adventure, humor, and the larger-than-life characters.

Liam recalled how the story described Paul Bunyan as a giant lumberjack with incredible strength and a blue ox named Babe. As noted by Galda et al. (2017), folklore is known to exaggerate the riches and strength of America. Liam affirmed this when he said that Paul Bunyan was portrayed as having strength beyond human capabilities. For example, he could clear vast forests in a day or create natural wonders like the Grand Canyon with a single swing of his axe. This exaggeration was meant to symbolize the incredible resources and potential of the American frontier during the time when these stories were popular. Liam found these exaggerated adventures to be both entertaining and imaginative.

Further, Liam also shared that what fascinated him about Paul Bunyan folklore was how it embodied the pioneering spirit and the ruggedness of American frontier life. He mentioned that the stories celebrated resourcefulness, hard work, and the ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. Additionally, Liam mentioned that the stories often featured humor and exaggerated exaggerations, like Paul Bunyan’s gigantic flapjacks that were so large they needed to be cooked in a lake. This whimsical aspect of the folklore always made him laugh and added to the charm of the tales. Overall, Liam’s fondness for the Paul Bunyan folklore stemmed from the combination of thrilling adventures, humor, and the larger-than-life nature of the characters, making it a timeless classic in his eyes. Top of Form


Galda, L., Liang, L. A., & Cullinan, B. E. (2017). Literature and the child (9th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Kittilä, S. (2020). Folklore as an evidential category. Folia Linguistica, 54(3), 697–721.


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The Enduring Allure of Paul Bunyan Folklore

The Enduring Allure of Paul Bunyan Folklore

Story: Texts and Resources:
● L. Galda, L. Sipe, & L. Liang (2016). Literature and the child. (9th ed.). Independence, KY: Cengage Learning
ISBN-10: 1305668847 ISBN-13: 9781305668843

Discussion #4: Digging into the Past

Ask your parent, grandparent, an older relative, friend, or coworker about their favorite classic children’s story. Ask them what they remember about and why it appealed to them.

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