Short folktales with morals are cultural stories passed down from generation to generation that encourage children to adopt values that benefit both them and their societies. These stories are simple enough for children to understand and often originate from an ancient oral tradition.
Because human nature has not changed significantly over the centuries, these folktales remain relevant and are still retold as of 2014. "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" is a tale told to remind children not to cry for help unless they really need it. "Pinocchio" is a tale told to help children remember to tell the truth. "The Ugly Duckling" instructs people not to judge others by outward appearances and to remember that those they make fun of today may turn out to be the people they admire in the future. These timeless tales are examples of Western European culture that continues to inform society.
Short folktales with morals are known variously as fables, fairy tales and myths. They are found all over the world, but the term "folk" comes from the German word "volk," which means "people." These tales are often those of common, unsophisticated people who share a culture and wish to pass down lessons learned from experience.