Asgard stories: Tales from Norse mythology is the rusult of the author’s experience in telling mythological stories to classes of children. The insight and interest displayed by the children encouraged the authors to hope that other teachers and pupils may enjoy the retelling of these northern myths.
At the dawn of the twentieth century there was a great interest in the teaching of myths to young children. Asgard stories was written to give the Norse myths a form that is suitable for use with pupils as well as for the children’s home reading. There is a vast amount of collections of the Greek tales, but the literature dealing with the Norse myths seem to be more or less cumbered with detail, and, therefore, not adapted to very young readers.
The experience of the authors satisfies them that the teaching of myths should begin with those of the North, and that the Greek tales should be given later, with comparisons and references to the Norse myths. The stories which were dear to our own northern forefathers stir our children more deeply and are more congenial to them than those which come down to us from the Greeks. This is perfectly reasonable. The graphic descriptions in the Norse tales of the hard struggle with rugged nature and the severe climate of the North naturally come home more closely to us than the less rigorous and sturdy conditions of the southern nations. Then, too, the moral tone of the Norse myths is higher, purer, and more steadfast than that of the Greek tales, and is more congenial to our Teutonic point of view.
Much depends, of course, upon the teacher’s careful study of the myths and insight into their significance. They should be presented in such manner as to awaken the interest of the children and lead them to make use of their own imagination.
The value of the Norse myths has been urged by Carlyle, Dasent, Anderson, and others. “To me there is in the Norse system something very genuine, very great, and manlike,” wrote Carlyle. “A broad simplicity, so very different from the light gracefulness of the old Greek paganism, distinguishes this Norse system. It is thought, the genuine thought of deep, rude, earnest minds, fairly opened to the things about them,—a face-to-face and heart-to-heart inspection of things,—the first characteristic of all good thought in all times.”
(This description of Asgard stories: Tales from Norse mythology is based on the preface by the authors)
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