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Books and Anthologies

Dr. Kathleen Ragan's anthologies are available at a number of sellers' websites. Click on the links below to purchase.


Since prehistory, in every culture, in every era, under starry skies, and on computer screens, storytelling has shaped how humans think. Storytelling is such an important survival tool, even three month old babies can distinguish narrative as different from other forms of speech.

When humans invented language, it was accompanied by a major shift in our brains.  When humans invented writing, our storytelling acquired different patterns. Recently humanity has awakened to find ourselves in the midst of a third revolution – computer mediated communication and the dawn of electronic thought. Computer-assisted thought will change our world.  But how?  What capabilities are we losing?  What insights are we gaining? 

To unravel the mystery of the future, to understand where we are going, we must turn back and look at where we have been. Why We Tell Stories asserts that our most ancient and enduring form of literature, the folktale, has been key to human survival. This is the first book to bring a uniquely female perspective to the examination of storytelling across time, cultures, and traditions to ask the question: What is the future of human thought in the electronic age?

"Anyone interest in the evolution and significance of storytelling must read Kathleen Ragan’s latest book: Why We Tell Stories. She acutely explains why we must move backward in history first if we want to move forward and understand where we humans are going. It is through storytelling that we have managed to survive and shall continue to survive if we let our stories breathe. Ragan succinctly maps out the new technological obstacles that confront us now and block communication and community. In many respects her book is not only a superb study of language and storytelling, but also a warning that our minds will be depleted by new technological advances that threaten our minds if we do not listen to the past."




Dismayed by the predominance of male protagonists and heroes in her daughter's books, Kathleen Ragan set out to collect the stories of our forgotten heroines: courageous mothers, clever young girls, and warrior women who save villages from monsters, rule wisely over kingdoms, outwit judges, kings, and tigers. Gathered from around the world, from regions as diverse as Sub-Saharan Africa and Western Europe, from Native American cultures of North and South America and New World settlers, from Asia and the Middle East, these 100 folktales celebrate strong heroines.

Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters is for all women who are searching to define who they are, to redefine the world, and to shape the collective sensibility. It is for men who want to know more about what it means to be a woman. It is for our daughters and our sons, so they can learn to value all kinds of courage, courage in battle and in love. It is for all of us to help build a more just vision of women.

"Anthologist Kathleen Ragan has, with the publication of this book, become an important figure in the restoration of the feminine aspects of the hero. She gives us the broadest selection of female hero stories that has ever been published. Her finds come from all corners of the globe; her female heroes are all ages and in all stages of life. These women save villages, ride into battle, figure out riddles and rituals, rescue themselves from ogres, make predictions, call down storms... In her own way, Ragan is a hero, too, battling the demons of publishing, going into the depths of old libraries, and bringing back to her people... a boon."


 from the preface by JANE YOLEN, editor of Folktales from Around the World


A multicultural collection of hopeful, engaging, inspirational folktales for all ages that tackle our most elemental human scourge - fear.

Humans of all eras and cultures have lived with fear - whether fear of becoming a jaguar prey, of being besieged by Vikings, or of nuclear holocaust. For millennia, huddled around campfires and in cottages, we have created folktales to help us transform this fear into action, into a solution, into hope. Inspired by the residual fear and the need for stories of resilience following September 11, Kathleen Ragan, editor of Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters, has scoured the globe and collected these 63 tales that respond to fear it its wide variety of incarnations. From the old Japanese woman who tricks the tengu monster to the bluebird who uses the Chinook wind to teach her mother compassion, Outfoxing Fear is a collection of positive, even utopian, folktales arranged thematically around topics such as the nature of fear, courage, the importance of laughter, and the need for hope.

"Kathleen Ragan is a contemporary Scheherezade, who, like her ancient predecessor, wants to outsmart tyranny. But this time it is the tyranny of fear that she wants to 'outfox' with her collection of unusual folktales gathered essentially from around the world. Obviously, her situation is somewhat different from the fictitious Scheherazade, but her intent is just as admirable if not more darings: she seeks to cope with the insanity of our present-day world and with the fear that has arisen from horrific acts and conditions by recuperating old tales that stem from desperate situations in people's lives in our darkened world. She encourages us to turn to these tales to grasp who we are, where we are, and whether there are alternatives to our present dilemma after September 11, 2001. She wants us to 'plunge' into her book and be guided by her frame tale; and there are two ways, if not more, than one can read her extraordinary collection of tales told to restore our sense of security, our sanity, and our sense of justice.

from the introduction by JACK ZIPES

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