One of the best ways to open up a child’s world is to read stories to them. Bedtime stories build vocabulary, listening skills, concentration and so much more.
These short stories with morals were written for this blog by my dear friend Valerio Gargiulo, an Italian author who has been living in Iceland for over 10 years. His stories are all inspired by Icelandic folk tales as he brings trolls, elves and magical flowers to life in these beautiful tales.
They will delight young kids while teaching morals and giving them a dose of culture at the same time.
Here are the stories Sharing is Caring, The Island of Talking Rocks and Home Sweet Home.
Sharing is Caring
Written by Valerio Gargiulo.
The sun was shining brightly one morning when Holtasóley decided to take a peaceful walk while all the children were in kindergarten.
Holtasóley was a special flower. She was a white Arctic-alpine flowering plant, and she flourished in every part of Iceland. Above all, her petals were magical.
In fact, she could release a special powder that attracted the attention of children. By talking to them, Holtasóley could cheer them up if they were sad. She was always keen to put a smile back on a child!
That day, Holtasóley started walking and immediately noticed that the leaves were starting to fall from the trees. Autumn was just around the corner.
In the distance, she heard the voices of a little girl and a father who seemed to be arguing.
Alba, you must learn to share your toys with friends otherwise no one will want to play with you anymore.
Holtasóley watched the scene from afar, but she could clearly see that Alba’s face was sad and thoughtful.
The next morning Holtasóley carefully watched all the children entering the kindergarten, until the flower noticed the little girl from the previous day walking with her toy car.
So, Holtasóley slowly approached her and released the magic powder from her white petals, but, to her surpise, the little girl was frightened.
What is going on?
Alba walked faster to get away from the powder. Holtasóley couldn’t believe her eyes – usually kids liked this spell, but not this time!
The following morning Alba passed by again, and she was still a little sad.
I must come up with an idea! Shouted Holtasóley.
The closer the little girl got to Holtasóley, the more the magic flower sagged. Then, the little girl leaned towards the flower and spoke.
How strange! Flowers don’t talk. How come you talk? Maybe you are a ghost?
I’m not a ghost, but come over here and let’s talk.
Alba accepted and sat down next to Holtasóley. The flower immediately asked the reason for her sadness.
A few days ago, it was my birthday, and my parents gave me this colourful toy car! I like to take it to kindergarten, but I don’t want to lend it to anyone! I’m afraid it might break… this toy can break easily.
Do you prefer playing with your friends or by yourself?
With my friends, of course! But I don’t want to lend my toy to anyone, replied Alba.
Holtasóley then said:
I’ll give you a little advice: bring your toy car to kindergarten tomorrow. When your friends come over to play and ask you for it, give it to them, but tell them to be careful not to break it.
Alba was a little uncertain, but she promised Holtasóley to do as she had advised.
The following morning Alba took her little car and went to kindergarten. She arrived with the toy in her hands, and immediately her best friend Siggi approached saying:
Alba, shall we swap toys?
Alba, remembering the promise she made to Holtasóley, replied:
Yes, but please be careful not to break it because I really care about it.
Siggi treated Alba’s little car very well. She understood that Holtasóley had given her good advice.
Siggi and Alba ended up spending the whole morning playing together. Holtasóley watched from afar, delighted to have helped another child.
By learning to share toys, you get to share experiences with friends too!
The Island of Talking Rocks
Written by Valerio Gargiulo.
Did you know that there is an island where the rocks talk to each other?
If you listen carefully in silence and search inside your heart, sooner or later you too will find the island of talking rocks.
Few children know it, but not very far from here, there is an island where there are peculiar rocks with strange shapes, covered with bright green moss: they are rocks that speak…
Yes, but you must listen very carefully or you won’t hear anything.
Up there in the great North, where winter storms rage violently against the windswept coasts and the Arctic Ocean, there is a secret place.
As soon as you arrive at this place – a lava desert – you must slowly enter the green moss along the tiny paths. During the day, the polar sun penetrates the holes of these peculiar rocks, lighting up the green moss with golden threads.
On the ground, among the soft and fresh green moss, you can see the heads of mushrooms, colourful flowers, and plants full of bluish-black blueberries; here and there, climbing bushes where juicy blackberries and red raspberries grow.
As evening falls, the rocks transform into trolls and talk to each other. The trolls talk to every creature living in the wild, such as the polar foxes and the little mice that live in the lava desert.
Before sunrise, the trolls turn back into rocks.
Some trolls are gigantic, some quite small, but all are very old. Trolls look like humans but only have four toes on each foot.
They also have such long noses that female trolls often use them to stir the soup in a pot. They are hairy and shaggy, and have tails that resemble those of cows.
As a sweet melody fills the air and a light chilly breeze blows from north to south, and west to east, the trolls speak loudly.
The earth is what we all have in common, said Floki – the albino troll – to his brothers.
Our planet’s fight for life! Replied Atli, a troll with a red beard.
They talk about the many disasters that affect the environment such as air pollution, cutting down trees, drought, and too much waste.
The trolls, friends of Mother Nature, are afraid for the future of the Earth, but they have a solution.
Children are our future. If we teach them to respect trees and woods, rivers and lakes, flowers, and plants, they will save our world! Shouted Birna, a female troll with a huge nose.
Some say that this island of fire and ice doesn’t exist, others, sailing the seven seas in the silence of the night, with only a dim torch, have managed to hear the voices of these worried trolls.
I’ve been asking for directions to this magical place for a while, but no one seems to know where it is.
I have faith. Take care of nature wherever you go and whatever you do, and always try to protect it.
Sooner or later, I will find it and I will finally be able to hear the voices of these talking rocks… well, worried trolls.
Home Sweet Home
Written by Valerio Gargiulo.
Summer was coming and Lilia, a young elf, missed her home in Hellisgerdi, where elves, fairies and trolls live in peace. She was away from her land and house, away from the skies of home.
I’ve been around the world, but there’s no place like home, she often said.
While Lilia was looking up at the night sky, she saw in the silver glow of the moon the silhouette of her faithful friend Jaja, a Siamese cat.
She opened the window of her cottage Joyfully.
Your mother asked me to come and pick you up. Please, jump on my back, and I will take you away to Hellisgerdi! Shouted Jaja.
Meanwhile Hulda – Lilia’s mother and the queen of the elves – was organizing a big welcome party for her daughter. She summoned all the hidden people: elves, fairies and trolls.
Magnus, the king of the trolls, Regina, the queen of the fairies, and all the other magical beings arrived at Hellisgerdi. They brought their gifts to the party: cows’ milk, ostrich eggs, blueberry jams and ginger biscuits.
Lilia was eager to go back home and to meet her family and friends. So, she mounted on the cat’s back, and away they went at a fast pace until they reached the enchanted park.
When dawn broke, Lilia and her cat arrived at Hellisgerdi. Hulda was waiting for her daughter at the park´s gate.
The queen smiled at her as her body lit up with radiant light from within. Lilia hugged her mother tightly.
I missed you. I missed you so much, mom!
I missed you too Lilia!
Together they walked towards the party, where the voices of all her friends could already be heard from afar.
Waiting for Lilia were not only her best friends but also a group of young trolls accompanied by howling foxes. The hidden people had all gathered to celebrate Lilia’s return. Everything was now ready, and everyone was eager to meet Lilia again after such a long time.
The party has just begun!
Hulda called everyone together and invited them to welcome her daughter with a song. Lilia’s cheerfulness had returned, and her lively blue eyes shone.
The food was plentiful, and everyone was invited to participate in the feast. Even the foxes were rewarded with good food.
A choir of fairies entertained everyone with a memorable singing performance, which was quite unusual and very entertaining.
Among the howls of the foxes and the joyful laughs of the trolls, Lilia and her cat did a wild dance, with leaps and fast pirouettes.
Lilia was delighted to be back in her world and among her friends. Then Hulda took Lilia’s hand and looked at her with love and affection.
Home will always be the beginning of love, hope and dreams, said the queen of elves.
Lilia felt her heart fill with joy and peace, but above all, she felt safe because she was back home.
About the author:
Valerio Gargiulo is an Italian-Icelandic writer of supernatural fiction and fantasy, based in Reykjavik, Iceland. He is a member of Rithöfundasamband Íslands, the Writers’ Union of Iceland. Gargiulo was born in Naples, Italy. He acquired Icelandic citizenship in 2021. Find him on Goodreads and Amazon.
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