Thursday, 11 November 2021

Engaging Children with Classical Mythology: 'Once Upon a Myth'

by Athina Mitropoulos-Monk

Once Upon a Myth (Olympia Publishers, £9.99 $12.99) is a collection of five stories that blend fairy tales with Greek myths. Hansel and Gretel meet the Minotaur, Prometheus and Pandora climb the beanstalk, Penthiselea is merged with Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood faces Dionysus, and Snow White is combined with Medusa. Each story is written in rhyming couplets which creates a fun mood to these newly imagined stories. For example, Prometheus, Pandora and the Beanstalks start like this:

In the mythical times, set long ago,

Things weren’t very bright, there wasn’t a glow.

No, our story starts in a cold and dark land,

Where all were under cruel Zeus’ command.

They serve as an introduction to Greek mythology and have a helpful, educational glossary at the back to support the learning of new characters and monsters. 

Having taught Classics for almost ten years, I know that personal interaction and activities are vital to promoting and inspiring an interest in the ancient world. I am therefore also running a series of workshops and talks at various schools and community centres to promote the book and mythology in general. A fee is asked when doing a series of workshops, however this is not applied to state schools or community centres. I have two types, though each is adapted to the given centre. Firstly, I have a Mythology Creative Writing workshop for years 7-9 where I discuss the appeal of mythology over the ages and how it is possible to retell one of these famous stories in a unique way, despite their popularity. Pupils are then encouraged to write their own version of a Greek or Roman myth. Secondly, I offer a Mythical Monsters workshop, aimed at years 4-6. This goes through a wide range of mythical monsters, from the well-known Medusa and Minotaur, to the lesser known Lamia and Chimaera. Pupils create top-trump style cards which are used for an activity and they are then encouraged to design their own mythical monster, inspired by the ones discussed. I am running these at state and private schools, as well as local community centres, and am very keen to continue offering these in the future.

From a recent workshop at Cranleigh Prep School, one pupil reported back that "the talk was excellent, and Mrs Mitropoulos-Monk was very inspiring.” 

Another parent posted “My son absolutely loved it! Thank you. We are reading it every night!”

If you are interested, please email me at

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