That's a wrap! Congratulations to all our winners. The Book Arts Bash now has its own domain name, and a brand new web site for a new Bash in 2010. Visit us here!

Please visit the Favorite Poem Project, and hear Americans read the poetry they love.

Submission Guidelines:

We're looking for two types of legends!

The first type of legend is a story of a great hero who defeats a monster (or other obstacle) to win a prize (or other benefit). This is called a Heroic Legend.

Examples of the stars of familiar heroic legends: El Cid, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, Perseus, William Tell, Kikuyu, Rama and Tisa, Hine-moa, Siegfried, King Arthur, Robin Hood.

The second type is a story that explains a phenomenon in the natural world. This second type is called a Pourquoi Legend. In French, Pourquoi means "why?" and these Pourquoi stories usually have the word "why" in the title.

Examples of Pourquoi Legends: You are probably familiar with Rudyard Kipling's "Just So Stories" (including "How the Camel Got Its Hump," "How the Leopard Got its Spots." There are also origin stories in most cultures' folk tales, including Native American, African, and South American. Also falling into this category are creation myths from all different cultures, including the Native American story of the world carried on a turtle's back and the Egyptian story of an original god emerging from a lotus blossom.

Legends should be between 500 and 5000 words. Legends must be typed in 12 point font, double spaced, and printed on one side of the paper. One page of 12 point font, double spaced, roughly translates to 250 words, so we're looking for between 2 and 20 pages. Legends should be stapled, entry form clipped to the front, and your name should appear on every sheet of paper you submit. Illustrations are optional. If you illustrate your legend, include the pictures in the sheaf you staple together, but please put each on a separate sheet of paper.

Teaching This Genre:

Heroic Legend:

For a sampling of heroic legends from lots of different cultures, we recommend An Illustrated Treasury of Myths and Legends by James Riordan and Brenda Ralph Lewis. Of course we all know the Greek and Roman heroes, but how about delving into Babylonian myths, Celtic, Norse, Egyptian, and Native American myths for inspiration?

Who will the American heroes be? Who will write their legends? Here's a great way to connect with a history lesson: Write the story of one of the people you're learning about as a myth, complete with a monster to defeat and a prize to win.

Here's a cool lesson that lets you choose from a "menu" to write your heroic legend.

Here are some interesting lesson ideas based on myths and legends, including writing prompts.

Pourquoi Legend:

Having read Kipling's stories or a collection of similar folk tales, most children will have lots of ideas of their own. It might also be fun to choose a science book and brainstorm ideas for legends from random facts you find there. This is a great way to teach across the curriculum, as you can reinforce science concepts with a creative story about why these facts are true.

How the Electron Got its Spin
Why Gravity Pulls Down
How the Palm Tree Got Its One Root
Why Tadpoles Lose their Tales
Why the Sky is Blue
How the Kidney Got its Shape

Here's a collection of Pourquoi Legend books and sites from Scholastic.

Here's a lesson plan for teaching Pourquoi Legends from Scholastic. Among other things, this lesson explores two varying "explanations" for the existence of the sun and moon, from legends in different cultures. 

Here's a lesson that encourages students to write a Pourquoi Legend about loons.

2008 Finalists:

3rd-6th Grade:

Joel L., "Why The Sand Is Yellow".
Michael DC., "Paul Bunyan and The Quick Trip To Canada".

7th-9th Grade:

Sam S., "The Tale of King Lokat and The Dragon".
Bekah O., "The Legend of The First Rain".
Rebecca A, "Why Dogs Hate Oats".

10th-12th Grade:

Vienna H., "Oracle-Wolf, or Why Wolves Howl at the Moon"
Camille M., "The Myth of Jacinda"

For 2008 results, look at our winners page.