Tales, Rumors, and Gossip: Exploring Contemporary Folk Literature in Grades 7-12

Explores the stories and themes that capture the imagination of young people today. After a fascinating overview and discussion of contemporary legends (commonly referred to as modern urban legends and often told as “true”), de Vos examines them in their relationship to rumors and gossip, ostension (acting out the legends), the role of the media in formulation and dissemination, and related tales (e.g., literary horror tales). A sampling of tales is organized into broad subject areas, such as contaminated food, threats to children, and satanic legends, and the legends are analyzed according to function, structure, and international variants. De Vos discusses some of the literary and visual adaptations in popular culture and offers suggestions for adapting tales for the junior high and high school curriculum. A fascinating professional book, this is a great resource to use with young adults.


“De Vos offers a scholarly yet entertaining compendium of …contemporary legends of special interest to young adults. …Of particular interest is the section in each chapter listing literary and visual adaptations of legends mentioned, including books by Alvin Schwartz and Stephen King. An appendix of classroom discussion topics is noteworthy, as are the indices of legends, their subjects, and literary works mentioned in the text. This title would be useful for libraries serving young adults or for those researching folklore or storytelling.”-Nancy Bell, Alief Independent School District, Houston, TX, School Library Journal

“This is a fascinating, hard-to-put-down resource–for storytellers, teachers, librarians and anyone else who works with teenagers–and for the casual browser, who just wants to check out a rather dubious story she overheard at the mall.”–Story Bag

“Another useful resource for teachers and librarians…Creative teachers and librarians should be able to find numerous ways to integrate the contents of Tales, Rumors, and Gossip’s contents into a variety of subject areas.”–Emergency Librarian

“Should be of great value to teachers in the middle and high schools…Also a good resource for those in the studies of social science, and can provide a great source of ideas and content for storytellers.”–Guild Gazette


1997 Storytelling World – Storytelling Honor Award, Special Storytelling Resource