Once upon a time: eight Colombian children’s stories worth reading

These eight children's stories have left a mark in the lives of Colombians. Any child can narrate at least one of these stories by heart. Do you know them?

Colombian children’s literature is based on simple and daily stories that teach values ​​and entertain children. Many stories have been translated into different languages and turned into games or even theater plays. For that reason, characters like Pastorcita, Juan Matachín, and Gato Bandido have not only entertained several generations, but have also taught them myriad moral lessons. These are the eight Colombian children’s stories that are a must-have for your library:


El Renacuajo Paseador / The walking tadpole

Author: Rafael Pombo

It’s impossible not to mention Rafael Pombo and his fantastic literary legacy that influenced (and still does) thousands of children in Colombia. Also known as “Rinrin, renacuajo,” this story is about how headstrong and stubborn we can often be and how we can get carried away by bad friends. The impact of this story has been such that, in 1936, Mexican musician Silvestre Revueltas composed his ballet ” El renacuajo paseador / The strolling tadpole.”


Simón el bobito

Author: Rafael Pombo

Once again, this Bogotá-born poet presents us with a story in which, through innocence and curiosity, he invites us to preserve the spirit of a child. Pombo studied fables in the United States and found a way to turn them into fun and simple poems. “Simón el bobito” is a favorite for old and young.

In 2008, the story became part of the “Pombo musical” an album tribute to Rafael Pombo, where Colombian artists such as Juanes, Fonseca, Aterciopelados, and Andrés Cabas sang the author’s stories. The album, promoted by Carlos Vives, received support from the Rafael Pombo Foundation and, in 2009, received the Latin Grammy for the Best Latin Children’s Album.


La pobre viejecita / The poor old woman

Author: Rafael Pombo

This fable teaches us that wealth does not always lead to happiness and that what is truly important is what lies inside the heart. Today, representations of this emblematic and charismatic character are used in parades and carnivals. However, in 1977, Colombian director Fernando Laverde produced an animated film, the first one in the country.

In recent years, theme parks in Colombia, such as Mundo Aventura and the National Coffee Park have used animatronics of this children’s story.



Author: Jairo Aníbal Niño

This story has been described as the most poetic children’s work of recent years in Colombia. In it, Jairo Aníbal Niño recounts the adventures that a jungle boy, together with an old man and a “tente” bird, must face while looking for his people. Along the way, he meets a singing glass tiger and giants with glass skin and befriends an ice eagle and two travelers from the Sun.

Thanks to this story, considered by many as an ode to imagination, Jairo Aníbal Niño won the Enka Prize for Children’s Literature in 1977. “Zoro” has been translated into several languages, including English, French, German, Slovak, and Chinese.


Los amigos del hombre

Author: Celso Román

This is a story about the value of friendship. In “Los amigos del hombre,” Matías Lanas, a dog, and Mateo Crines, a horse, join forces to save their master who is about to die. In this adventure they stumble into a moonlight that will guide their way, as well as their old friends: Ananias Pelos, the cat, and Elías Cantero, the rooster.

Although this work was originally written for children, it has been praised by readers of all ages since it was published in 1980.


El Terror de Sexto B / The Terror of Class 6B

Author: Yolanda Reyes

This set of seven short stories narrates, from the perspective of children, some school stories that many of us also experienced in our day: from classroom jokes and last-minute homework to that first kiss.

These are simple, entertaining, and fun stories, whose author, director of the Espantapájaros Workshop, a cultural project to train readers, presents the school period as a true adventure. “The Terror of Class 6B” won the Fundalectura Award in 1994 and was selected to be part of the Honor list of the Munich Youth Library. It has been translated into Portuguese.


La historia en cuentos / History in stories

Author: Eduardo Caballero Calderón

His stories focused on teaching children history through simple narratives. The lives of Colombian and South American heroes are conveyed in stories adapted for children. The Ministry of Culture of Colombia declared 2010 as the year of Caballero Calderón, in postmortem tribute to the author for his valuable contribution to the country’s culture.


Catalino Bocachica

Author: Luis Darío Bernal Pinilla

This story won the National Children’s Novel Prize in 1979 and narrates the adventures and misadventures of a child in the Caribbean coast struggling to recover his mother, whom he lost through dramatic circumstances. For this, he does not stop at any sacrifice, always with the support of his uncle Pepillo.

The great tradition of Colombian authors makes Colombia a country full of magical and fantastic stories. Learn more about other great Colombian writers and discover #TheBestOfColombia.

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