Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Stories to Grow by Announces Kids Art Contest! Calling all Artists!

Stories to Grow by Announces Kids Art Contest! Calling all Artists!

Stories to Grow by is looking to feature Kids Art in our new Audio Storybook series! We are looking for children ages 6-14 to submit original artwork for our Early Reader Stories: The Velveteen Rabbit, Rumpelstiltskin, Rapunzel, Beauty & the Beast, Mulan, The Snow Queen and The Emperor’s New Clothes.
We are asking for submissions by April 1st. The winning drawings (10-15 depending on story length) will be featured in our new Audio Storybooks, published on our award-winning website:www.storiestogrowby.org as well on bookcreator and Ibooks.
For a sample Audio Storybook, see our “A Spider and Robert the Bruce” version:https://www.storiestogrowby.org/a-spider-and-robert-the-bruce-audio-story-book/
Please email submissions or questions to: wdischinger@storiestogrowby.org Include child’s first name only, age, state and country. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

March Themed Stories are Up! GIRLS OF COURAGE

Stories to Grow by is proud to present our March Theme featuring many of our new "Early Reader" Classic Short Stories in English. Our March focus is on the theme of "Girls of Courage". What an important message in your classroom, specifically in this time of our history. Multicultural Stories such as Mulan, The Girl & the Chenoo, Janet & Thomalyn, and the ever popular "Snow Queen" which the Disney movie "Frozen" is based from. We hope you will find these stories inspiring to read at home as Bedtime Stories or in the classroom. Disney's Mulan is one of my sons favorite Disney movies so be assured that both girls and boys will come away from these stories having learned valuable moral lessons. Happy Storytelling! 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Velveteen Rabbit Lesson Plan ~ Valentine’s Day

The Velveteen Rabbit Lesson Plan ~ February Theme of Love 
The Velveteen Rabbit Short Story for Kids
Velveteen Rabbit Lesson Plan Ideas for Valentine's Day: Creative Writing Tasks  
The Velveteen Rabbit is a beautiful, classic tale of a child's love for his stuffed animal. A motif, as also seen in the Disney movie "Toy Story", of the old toy thrown aside as new, shiny, toys with buttons and lights are received. The stuffed bunny, Velveteen Rabbit, and the Skin Horse wonder about their life as discarded toys.  But Skin Horse assures Velveteen Rabbit,"When soft toys are loved enough, we can become real." 
This story is a favorite childhood classic and our early reader version can be easily used in the classroom for grades K-3rd. It is perfect for Valentine's Day  with the theme of love which is easily accessible to all children. The love for their favorite stuffed toy.  In Kindergarten and 1st grade, the lesson could include am oral reading of the story and the children drawing a picture of their favorite stuffed animal coming to life. Meet standards by having students write a descriptive sentence "I love my ____ because_____." For 2nd and 3rd grade, it can be read for Independent Reading or Read Aloud and then include a writing task: Write a paragraph describing your own beloved stuffed animal. Extend the learning by having students be creative and write a short story about how their stuffed animal became real. Or a persuasive story about why their stuffed animal deserves to become real. Happy Valentine's Day & Happy Storytelling! 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Beauty and the Beast Classic Fairy Tale Lesson Plan

February Theme of Love: Finding Love Where You Least Expect It

February: the month of LOVE and surely there are plenty of stories which cover the “traditional” love story. Our worldly stories, however, teach us so much more about love than just that.  This month we will explore love stories, each from a different country and each with their own unique message about what it means to love and be loved in return. This week’s stories are about finding :Love Where You Least Expect It".  Below you will find suggestions for a Beauty and the Beast Love Lesson Plan for both grades 2-4 and 4-6.
beauty and the beast Beauty & the Beast Love Fairy Tale 
The classic tale from France of a beautiful, smart, young girl who finds herself entrapped with a hideous Beast to spare her father’s life; a Beast who turns out to be more than what he seems. A tale as old as time…..
A story from France, this European Folk Tale is a wonderful tale of love that builds from friendship. Much like Disney’s version, but with some differences, there is also a secondary plot regarding three sisters, Beauty being the youngest, most humble, and the one to put the love for her father above her own wants and needs. She willingly goes to take his place and live with the Beast, whilst her older sisters only care about their selfish ways, getting their riches back and finding husbands who will “suit” them. An exploration of love in many forms, this tale analyzes love between a father and daughter as well as love that comes from truly learning to value another for their heart and not their looks. Beauty finds “Love Where She Least Expects It”, a love grown from friendship and true admiration for ones’ best qualities.
We offer two versions of this story: The Classic Version suited for a 4th-6th reading level and an "Early Reader" version in simple English suited for those with a 2nd-4th reading level.  This Fairy Tale offers a wonderful opportunity to meet Common Core Standards of Comparing/Contrasting Text to Film. The animated Disney version varies from the new recent version, which more closely meets the original classic tale. Another idea is to use the text to Debate Ethics:Does the punishment meet the crime? Last, I like to use this tale to analyze Point of View and write a Fractured Fairy Tale. What would this story look like from the Beast's perspective?

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!