Tuesday, January 16, 2018


The Snow Queen: An Early Reader Version Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen. 

The Snow Queen
By Елена Ринго - www.elena-ringo.com,
CC BY 3.0,
The Wizard’s Mirror
Once there was an evil wizard who made a mirror that had a special dark magic.  Anything good or beautiful, when reflected back in this evil mirror, only looked rotten and gray.  
The wizard was very pleased with his evil mirror!  He laughed and laughed, and wanted to show it to the whole world.  So he flew up high into the sky, but the mirror started to shake.  It shook so much that the wizard could no longer hold on to it, and it dropped down to earth.  The mirror smashed into millions, billions, trillions of tiny sharp bits of glass that flew all over the place.
If a tiny sharp bit of that evil glass landed in anyone’s eye, from that time on, the person would see only the bad and dark in people and things, and no more see the light and good.  So it was in this land for hundreds of years.
Years later, a boy named Kai and a girl named Gerda lived next door to each other.  When they opened their bedroom windows, they could easily talk to each other.  What’s more, there was a roof gutter that ran between the two attic windows.  Inside the gutter their families had planted a garden where vegetables and roses grew.  Kai and Gerda’s families were poor and they had no toys to play with, but they did not mind.  That garden was where the two friends played, and they were happy.

When their bedroom windows were open, they were so close they could easily talk to each other.

One day, Gerda and Kai were reading a book in the garden.  All of a sudden, a gust of wind blew a bit of that sharp evil glass into Kai’s eye.  Kai threw down the book, right on top of the roses.  He yelled that he did not want to read any more.  Gerda picked up the book and set the broken roses up again.  She asked if he wanted to play a clapping game instead?  But Kai cried out “No!”  He said he never wanted to play with Gerda, ever again!  
The Snow Queen
The next day, Kai pulled his sled to town.  He wished his sled would go faster!  Then he saw a big white sleigh coming up the road.  As it passed, Kai quickly tied his sled’s rope to the back of the sleigh.  Now he could ride very fast behind the sleigh!  But what Kai did not know is that one driving the sleigh was the Snow Queen herself.  
The Snow Queen, in her white fur coat, had known that Kai was up ahead on the road.  She had slowed down her sleigh when she got closer to Kai, giving him a chance to tie his rope to her sleigh.  Then she had ridden off very fast, with Kai speeding behind her.

The one driving the sleigh was the Snow Queen herself.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


We are proud to present the newest addition to our Early Reader Collection: 

The Velveteen Rabbit-"Early Reader" English Stories for Kids

In a boy’s toy box there lived a soft and plushy Velveteen Rabbit.  For a short time, the boy played with the Velveteen Rabbit, but that was before brighter toys came along.  Some of these toys could move if you pushed a button.  Others would bounce high if thrown in the air.  
Velveteen Rabbit had no button to make it move.  If thrown in the air, Velveteen Rabbit would only fall softly to the floor.  All the other toys in the toy box talked with pride about the fine things they could do.  And with them, Velveteen Rabbit did not say much.
Only one other toy in the toy box was like Velveteen Rabbit.  Skin Horse was a soft, plushy toy.  But he was old.  Most of his hair had been worn away a long time ago, and he had only one eye left.  Skin Horse said to Velveteen Rabbit, “Soft toys like us are lucky because we can get loved the most.  And when soft toys are loved enough, we can become Real.”
“What is Real?” said Velveteen Rabbit. 

Monday, January 8, 2018


Our January themed stories are up! This month's short stories focus on the Themes of Service/Helping/Justice. Such stories of a king who goes in disguise to see how his people live, a story about a poor man who entrusts his life savings to a king who steals it, and even a true tale about a rebellion in Spain against their overlord. Our Moral Stories feature positive messages and will leave a lasting impression! Look for lesson plans for these stories coming soon! 

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Theme of Self-Reflection Part 2: The Girl Who Changed Her Fate


girl-change-fate-playDetermining One's Fate & the Theme of Self-Reflection Part 2

Looking for a great story to excite your students about the New Year, while also reinforcing the theme of Self-Reflection and the idea that we all have control over our own fate? Would you also like to have some fun in your literary classroom before Winter Break by having the students participate in Reader’s Theater? Then we have the perfect tale for you from Greece, The Girl Who Changed Her Fate. Offered in both a story and play script version, this is sure to round out the end of your school year and excite your students about the possibilities that the New Year brings.

The story of Alena, the youngest of three sisters, who has been determined to have an ill-fate. She leaves her home so that she no longer brings ill-will to her sisters, only to find that her ill-fate follows her no matter where she goes. Determined to change the course of her life, she goes in search of her fate. Can she change her fate, literally and figuratively? 
A story from Greece, this is a great tale to tie into a unit on Greek or Roman Mythology. We love it to be a New Year’s story, one of Self-Reflection, to spark the discussion with your students on the idea of determining one’s own fate and the chance that New Year’s brings to change and renew ourselves and our goals in 2017.

Teaching the Girl Who Changed Her Fate:
This story meets Common Core Standards for 3rd-6th grade and is a great springboard to create a Story Map of your students “Story for 2018” with short and long-term goals for the new year and beyond. You could also further the learning with higher level thinking skills by doing a unit on Greek Mythology and/or by having a classroom debate over Greek Philosophy: those who think are destinies are planned by Fate/s vs. those that think we have complete control over our destiny. Extend your standard learning of the literary skills with a story that your students will sure to ponder and love. Happy Storytelling!

A positive message while teaching an important literary skill: this is what you will find in all the Stories to Grow by Stories and accompanying Reader’s Theater scripts.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Using Fairy Tales to Debate Ethics

Using Fairy Tales
To Debate Ethics

By Elaine L. Lindy

What better way to spark a spirited classroom debate on ethics than by exploring the complex messages often found in fairy tales? In this Education World story, guest editor Elaine L. Lindy introduces three tales -- Puss in Boots, Jack and the Beanstalk, and a Tibetan tale, From the Elephant Pit -- that can be used for starters! Included: Tips for managing an ethics debate in the elementary or middle school classroom!

What better way to spark a spirited classroom debate on ethics than by exploring the complex messages often found in fairy tales?
Children enjoy a cozy familiarity with fairy tales. By basing a discussion of ethics on fairy tales, you are launching from common ground. Children aged eight and older typically are ready for meatier ethical concepts, concepts that skirt into gray areas of lesser evils or relative priorities.
Following are a few suggestions drawn from the land of fairy tales to get your students' thought wheels humming.
In this classic French fairy tale, a clever cat engineers a succession of hoaxes and lies for the benefit of his master. As a result, his master eventually marries the king's daughter and appoints Puss in Boots prime minister, and all parties live happily ever after.
You can print a text version of Puss in Boots from the Internet. A well-illustrated version of the story is also available in The Golden Book of Fairy Tales, by Marie Ponsot (Golden Books).
Elaine L. Lindy's Tips for Managing a Classroom Debate on Ethics

* Before you begin a lesson that will lead to a debate about ethics issues, let children know that you are going to read a story and that you will be asking some questions about that story.* At the end of the story, allow children time to consider their personal responses to your questions, and ask each child to write down her or his response.
* Break the class into small groups for discussion. Then hold a general discussion. You might want to list the arguments cited, pro and con, on different sides of the chalkboard.
* Continue to look for opportunities in stories to raise questions for ethical debate. Your best source material will be stories that children already enjoy, such as fairy tales and folktales. However, modern stories and popular television shows and movies also provide opportunities for ethics discussions.
* Here's a final rule of thumb: If the children enjoy the story, consider it a candidate for an ethics debate! Over time, as long as you keep those discussions alive, the capacity for youngsters to understand ethical issues will grow.
The story begins with the introduction of a young man whose poor father has died and left him with nothing but a cat named Puss in Boots. The cat proves tireless in his devotion to his master and begins by delivering a sequence of gifts (rabbits, pheasants, and other game) to the king and queen. Each time, Puss in Boots announces that the gifts are from "the Marquis of Carabas." Naturally, the king comes to believe the Marquis of Carabas is a person of great consequence.
Here, you might ask young readers, "Was Puss in Boots wrong to lie to the king and to deceive him?" The absolute quality of honesty can be leveled against the compelling urges of loyalty and friendship.
After several clever tricks, Puss in Boots leads the king and his lovely young daughter to a castle belonging to an ogre. Running ahead of the group, the frisky feline dares the ogre to transform himself into a mouse. When the ogre successfully transforms himself, Puss in Boots promptly pounces on the hapless creature and devours him. That enables his young master, who arrives moments later with the king and his entourage, to claim that the castle is his own. In so doing, the young man clinches his nuptial prospects with the king's daughter.
Here, you can further challenge your students: "Was the cat wrong to trick the ogre and then kill him?" Youngsters who argued earlier that the king was in no way damaged by the verbal deceptions and exaggerations of Puss in Boots must reckon with an act leading to an untimely death.Finally, pose this question: "Is trickery ever justified?" Challenge students to support their positions, whatever they may be, with at least three cogent arguments.
Your students might enjoy acting out a play version of Jack and the Beanstalk.
This classic story offers a twist on the theme of honesty. We all know the story of young Jack, whose impoverished mother is left with nothing but the family cow. Jack is sent to market to trade the cow for as much money as he can. Jack trades the cow for a handful of beans, and in despair, his mother throws the beans out the window.
Overnight, a giant beanstalk grows into the sky. When Jack climbs to the top of the beanstalk, he finds the home of a mean giant. Narrowly escaping from the giant with his life, Jack scampers down the beanstalk with two treasures stolen from the giant -- a goose that lays golden eggs, and a magic harp. Thus, Jack happily secures the future for himself and his mother.
You might begin by reiterating that Jack faced imminent danger in the giant's house ("Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman!"). Ask: "Since the giant wanted to eat Jack, was it OK that Jack stole the giant's goose and harp?"

Listen carefully to the arguments raised, pro and con. You might follow up with this remark: "Remember that Jack was an intruder in the giant's house. Since Jack chose to enter the giant's house, does that change your opinion?"

This exercise is also recommended: "Pretend you are the giant. Describe what happens when Jack arrives in your house and how you feel about it."
In a 19th-century version of Jack and the Beanstalk, a fairy is introduced when Jack is climbing up the beanstalk. The fairy informs Jack that Jack's father was a wealthy and prosperous landowner but that a mean giant killed the father, stole everything his father owned, and reduced Jack's mother and her infant son to poverty. That giant, according to the fairy, is the one who lives at the top of the beanstalk, and by destroying the giant, Jack will restore his family wealth.
This version of the fairy tale opens another line of questioning: "Since the giant had stolen everything from Jack's father, do you think it was OK for Jack to take it back?" Most youngsters will heartily agree.
Follow up with this question: "What if it had been the giant's father who had stolen everything from Jack's father; would it still be OK for Jack to take the treasures?" Then ask: "What if it had been the giant's grandfather who had stolen everything from Jack's grandfather?" And then ask: "What if it had been 100 years before that the giant's ancestor had stolen everything? Do you think it would still be OK for Jack to take the treasures?" Try to find the amount of elapsed time necessary, according to students, to justify Jack's taking the treasures. Then challenge them to defend their point of view.
A lesser-known Tibetan folktale From the Elephant Pit is about a hunter who happens upon an elephant pit in which a man, a lion, a mouse, a snake, and a falcon are trapped.
The lion warns the hunter not to rescue the human, saying, "I and the other animals will prove grateful to you and will help you for your kindness to us, so rescue them. But please leave the man in the pit, for I warn you, he will forget your kindness and do you harm." However, the hunter rescues all the animals and the man.
The other animals indeed later repay the kindness to the hunter, and as the lion foretold, the man betrays him. Still, by the end of the story, the betrayal of the man is revealed, the hunter is appointed chief hunter to the king, and all ends well.
On the Absolutely Whootie Web site, children are asked this question:
"Do you think the hunter was better off because he rescued the man from the pit? If you think yes, why? If you think no, why not?"
Following is a sampling of responses from youngsters who responded at the Web site:
"Yes, you should always save someone in need."
-- Vance, age 10

"No, because if he would have left him he wouldn't have gone through all that trouble."
-- Tara, age 11

"No, because the man tricked the hunter and ruined his life."
-- Newt, age 9

"Yes, because he did something very kind, which is the best reward anyone could get."
-- Laura, age 10

"Yes, because he got to be the king's top man."
--Shawn, age 7
Read More About It!

If you enjoy the ideas Elaine Lindy shares in this story, you'll want to read another story from the Education World archives:
Folktales of Cooperation for Your K-3 Class Are you looking for a fun and effective way of promoting the spirit of cooperation in your K through 3 classroom? Elaine Lindy, creator of the Absolutely Whootie Web site, shares three favorite folktales that will get kids thinking and talking about the importance of cooperation! After you use the tales in the classroom, why not send them home so the discussion about cooperation can continue? Lindy also shares follow-up activities and tips.
Article by Elaine L. Lindy
Education World®
Copyright © 2003 Education World
Elaine L. Lindy is an expert on storytelling for character education. As CEO of Whootie Owl Productions, LLC, a Massachusetts-based company, she created Absolutely Whootie: Stories to Grow By, a Web site that features dozens of fairy tales and folktales from around the world. Each tale is upbeat, kid-tested, nondenominational, copyright available, amply footnoted, and free! The Web site has been recognized by USA Today, Highlights for Children,Teachers.net, and many others.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


We've heard you and we listened! You are loving our Early Reader versions of our most popular stories so we've added even more and are working on brand new ones for the coming week! We've added "Fur & Feathers" (what will Mama Ostrich do when Mama lion steals her chicks and calls them her own?), "The Empty Pot" (Jun's seed does not sprout...how can he compete with the other boys plants to become Emperor?), "The Ram & the Pig" (A classic tale similar to the Three Little Pigs, Pig & Ram go to build their house in the woods, but what about the wolf?), and a very popular Aesop's Fable "Androcles & the Lion" (Androcles, an escaped slave, meets a lion in the woods. The tale of an unlikely friendship). Be sure to check out our December Themed Stories published this Friday! Our Theme for December is "Self-Reflection" with our focus on three tales: The Girl Who Changed Her Fate, Haku's Power and the Enormous Nose all with lesson plans! Happy Storytelling! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Stories to Grow by is proud to present Early Reader versions of our most popular stories! You will find such stories as "The Apple Dumpling", "A Caterpillar's Voice" and "Fur & Feathers" , plus more on the way!, in shortened form with simpler language for younger students or those learning English. While they are shorter and simpler to make a wonderful Bedtime Story or Classroom edition for the younger grades, they are still full of the wonderful positive messages each one contains! Remember all our stories are kid-tested (my 2nd grader has read each version to ensure an easy, memorable read)! So visit www.storiestogrowby.org, search for a Story or Script by age range, read time or Theme (we have some wonderful stories for Thanksgiving and the Theme of Gratitude) and share a Storytelling experience sure to leave a lasting impression. Stories to Grow by thanks you all for your continued support of our Stories & Mission. We wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Teaching Kindness in the Classroom with "The Talking Fish"

"A kindness is never lost, even if you throw it into the water."

This is the theme of the "The Talking Fish".  A folktale from Armenia, The Talking Fish tells the story of a poor, desperate fisherman's assistant who throws a magical talking fish back into the sea and is fired. On his way home, downtrodden and depressed, he comes upon a "monster" whom offers him a cow to sustain his life for the next three years, but when the monster returns, he must repay him by answering three questions lest he, his wife and the cow become the monsters' property. Seeing no other way, the fisherman agrees. Three years later the monster returns, but how is the poor fisherman to answer his absurd questions? "A kindness is always repaid". Click here to find out the magical ending to this story...

This short story provides an opportunity to cover ELA skills on "Making Predictions and Drawing Conclusions" while also focusing on Character Education and Kindness. In the beginning of the story, students can draw conclusions about the type of character the fisherman was for throwing the fish back despite his poor disposition and possible loss of his job. They can then predict what will happen after the man foolishly agrees to the terms of the monster. Finally, students can predict/draw conclusions on if and how "The Talking Fish" might repay the fisherman's kindness. Lastly, students can work on Determining Theme through explicit text: What does the final statement mean: “A kindness is never lost, even if you throw it into the water.”? 

My sons are in 2nd grade and Kindergarten and their school theme this year is KINDNESS. They talk about the books "How Full is Your Bucket" and "Have you Filled a Bucket Today". The Principal even went into each class to read these stories to the students. Classes are focused on teaching students to be a "Bucket Filler" not a "Bucket Dipper". Kids write post-its and put them into a Kindness bucket when a fellow class member does something to "fill their bucket". I mention this because our story "The Talking Fish" and many of our other stories teach these important themes effortlessly. They can easily be shared in class as mini-lessons, not only to teach ELA standards, but to work on Character Education. We all want our students and children to be successful with their grades, but most importantly, I think, we want them to be KIND. Happy Storytelling! 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Repost: Teaching the Theme of Gratitude with Stories to Grow by

New Lesson Plan Coming this Week on Stories of Giving and Kindness! Three Stories with a Theme of Gratitude:
For Classroom Use at Thanksgiving and Year-Round

Thanksgiving is almost here! How will you be teaching the theme of Gratitude in your classroom this year?

We look for thought-provoking stories that encompass the virtues we hope our students showcase, not only around the holidays, but all throughout the year.  One free resource is  Stories to Grow by, an award-winning selection of kid-tested multicultural stories. The three tales featured below provide shining examples of Thanksgiving themes such as Gratitude, Friendship, and Kindness.  Dramatic versions of the first two stories are also freely available as Reader’s Theater and can offer entertaining read-aloud opportunities.  

Androcles and the Lion Androcles is an escaped slave who runs away from his cruel Roman master.  Wandering in the woods, he meets a lion in distress. This Fable comes from the collection of “Aesop’s Fables.”  Aesop is credited as author of hundreds of fables, many of which are still taught as morality lessons and used as subjects for various entertainments, especially for children's plays and cartoons.  Help yourself to Stories to Grow by’s Reader’s Theatre script for “Androcles and the Lion.

Baba Yaga Natasha is sent deep into the forest by her stepmother to face the witch Baba Yaga.  Baba Yaga has the frightening power to embody her hut, such that the hut stands on hen’s legs and hops about to chase its child-victims. In this classic Russian fairytale, Natasha befriends several enchanted creatures trapped by Baba Yaga, and they in turn help Natasha to escape.  Help yourself to Stories to Grow by’s Reader’s Theatre script for “Baba Yaga.

The Queen and the Mouse:  A Queen is captured and imprisoned, along with her infant daughter, in the tallest room of a tower.  She has but one friend – a charming dancing mouse. This French fairytale drives to a moment of reckoning when a magical old woman offers the Queen a chance to free her baby daughter – but only if the Queen hands over the mouse.

The content of the three tales can also prompt skill-building for “Making Predictions” as well as “Cause and Effect.” Additional stories and Reader’s Theatre scripts, as well as teaching materials and Common Core alignments, are available at storiestogrowby.org.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

November Themes of Giving and Kindness: New Lesson Plans Coming Soon!

pumpkin in a jar
Happy November! 
Themes of Kindness and Giving

I can hardly believe it has been a year since I started this blog to bring you Lesson Plans surrounding our wonderful stories. I hope that you have found them to be useful in your classroom or at home with your little ones. Reading is so much more than just the words on the page; it is an experience to be shared, a lesson to be learned, a value to be appreciated. I am so proud that our stories bring to life lessons from the past, passed down from generation to generation to bring enlightenment and wonder to children from all over the world. Our stories connect people, children and adults alike and I hope you have found a way to use them to both teach and inspire. 

This month our Lesson Plans will focus on stories surrounding Kindness and Giving. If you've been with us since the beginning, you will see familiar lessons on such stories as "The Apple Dumpling" and "Wali Dad". New Lesson Plans starting next week with focus on such stories as "The Talking Eggs", "The Talking Fish" and "The Troll's Ride". These are some of our most popular stories and I am proud to present them to you and offer ways to use them in your classroom or at home to promote Kindness and Giving, not just at this time of year, but all year round. Happy November!