Stories from around the world, told in English, for children to read along with.
The red and blue coat
2:54The red and blue coat Once there were two boys who were great friends, and they were determined to remain that way forever. When they grew up and got married, they built their houses facing one another across a small path. One day, a trickster from the village decided to fool them. He dressed himself in a two-colour coat that was divided down the middle. So, one side of the coat was red, and the other side was blue. The trickster wore this coat and walked along the narrow path between the houses of the two friends. They were each working opposite each other in their fields. The trickster made enough noise as he passed them to make sure that each of them would look up and see him passing. At the end of the day, one friend said to the other, "Wasn't that a beautiful red coat that man was wearing today?" "No", the other replied. "It was a blue coat." "I saw the man clearly as he walked between us!" said the first, "His coat was red." "You are wrong!" said the other man, "I saw it too, and it was blue." "I know what I saw!" insisted the first man. "The coat was red!" "You don't know anything," the second man replied angrily. "It was blue!" They kept arguing about this over and over, insulted each other, and eventually, they began to beat each other and roll around on the ground. Fighting, in other words! Just then, the trickster returned and faced the two men, who were punching and kicking each other and shouting, "Our friendship is OVER!" The trickster walked directly in front of them, and showed them his coat, laughing at their silly fight. The two friends saw that his coat was red on one side and blue on the other. The two friends stopped fighting and screamed at the trickster saying, "We have lived side by side like brothers all our lives, and it is all your fault that we are fighting. You have started a war between us." "Don't blame me for the battle," replied the trickster. "I did not make you fight. Both of you are wrong, and both of you are right. Yes, what each one of you saw was true. You are fighting because you only looked at my coat from your own point of view and didn’t consider the point of view of your friend."
Hercules and the lazy man
1:28Hercules and the lazy man A man was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy way in a cart. Finally, he came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into the mud, the more the horses pulled, the deeper the wheels sank. So, the man threw down his whip, knelt down, and prayed to Hercules the Strong. "Oh Hercules, help me out of this mess." He said. But Hercules appeared to him, and said: "Tut, tut, man, don't lie there grovelling and begging for help. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel! Help those horses with your own effort!" And, the moral is. The gods help those that help themselves.
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Aesop's Fables-The Dog and the Reflection.
1:45The Dog and the Reflection. A Dog had got a piece of meat and was carrying it home in his mouth so that he could eat it in peace. Now, on his way home he had to cross a plank of wood lying across a running brook(小溪). As he crossed, he looked down and saw his reflection in the water beneath(在水底下). Thinking it was another dog with another piece of meat, he made up his mind to have that meat as well as his own. So, he tried to snatch(一把抓起) the tasty morsel(一块食物) from the reflection in the water, but as he opened his mouth, the piece of meat he had fell out of his mouth and dropped into the water, never to be seen again. And, the moral is. Beware, in case you lose something real while desiring an illusion.在你渴望幻觉中的东西时,却失去了真实的东西
Aesop's Fables- The Wind and the Sun
2:03The Wind and the Sun The Wind and the Sun were arguing over which of them was stronger. They saw a traveller coming along the road, and the Sun said: "I see a way to settle this argument. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak will be the stronger one. You begin." So, the Sun hid behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely the traveller wrapped his cloak around him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on, and so he took it off. And, the moral is. Kindness and gentleness are more effective than aggression and anger.
The Man Who Never Lied
2:41The Man Who Never Lied Once upon a time there lived a wise man by the name of Mamad. He never lied. All the people in the land, even the ones who lived twenty days away, knew about him. The king heard about Mamad and ordered his subjects to bring him to the palace. He looked at the wise man and asked: " Mamad, is it true, that you have never lied?" " It's true." "And you will never lie in your life?" " I'm sure of that." "Okay, tell the truth, but be careful! The lie is cunning and it can get on a person’s tongue easily." Several days passed and the king called Mamad once again. There was a big crowd: the king was about to go hunting. The king held his horse by the mane, his left foot was already on the stirrup. "Go to my summer palace and tell the queen I will be with her for lunch tomorrow. Tell her to prepare a big feast. You will have lunch with me then." Commanded the King. Mamad bowed down and went to tell the queen. Then the king laughed and said: "We won't go hunting and now Mamad will lie to the queen. Tomorrow we will have a laugh at his expense." But the wise Mamad went to the palace and said: "Maybe you should prepare a big feast for lunch tomorrow, and maybe you shouldn't. Maybe the king will come by noon, and maybe he won't." "Tell me will he come, or won't he?" - asked the queen. "I don't know whether he put his right foot on the stirrup, or he put his left foot on the ground after I left." Everybody waited for the king. He came the next day and said to the queen: "The wise Mamad, who never lies, lied to you yesterday." But the queen told him about the words of Mamad. And the king realized, that a wise person never lies, and says only that which is seen with their own eyes.
The Wolf and the Kid
1:01The Wolf and the Kid A Kid, (the proper name for a baby goat) was perched up on the top of a house, and looking down, saw a Wolf passing by under him. Immediately he began to shout at his enemy. "You murderer! You rotten thief !" he cried, from the safety of his high perch. "What are you doing here? You’re lucky I’m up here, if I were down there, I’d kick you to bits and pieces! How dare you show yourself! Do you think no one knows what a rascal you are? Run away before I lose my temper!" "Curse away, my young friend," said the Wolf. "It is easy to be brave from a safe distance."
THE SINGING BONE
6:44THE SINGING BONE Once upon a time in a certain country there was great concern about a wild boar that was destroying the peasants' fields, killing the cattle, and ripping people apart with its tusks. The king promised a large reward to anyone who could free the land from this plague, but the beast was so large and strong that no one dared to go near the woods where it lived. Finally, the king proclaimed that whoever could capture or kill the wild boar should have his only daughter in marriage. Now in this country there lived two brothers, the sons of a poor man. They decided that they would each attempt to kill the boar. The older brother, who was crafty and shrewd, did so out of pride and greed. The younger one, who was innocent and simple, did so because of his kind heart, he wanted to stop the destruction the boar was causing. The king said, "In order to be more certain of finding the beast, you should enter the woods where it lives from opposite sides." So, the eldest son entered the woods from the west, and the younger one from the east. After the younger son had walked a while, a little dwarf stepped up to him. He held a black spear in his hand and said, "I am giving you this spear because your heart is innocent and good. With it you can confidently attack the wild boar. It will do you no harm." The younger son thanked the dwarf, put the spear on his shoulder, and walked on fearlessly. Before long he saw the beast. It attacked him, but he held the spear toward it, and in its blind fury it ran into the spear with such force that its heart was slashed in two. The youngest son put the monster boar on his back and turned towards home, intending to take it to the king. Emerging from the other side of the woods, he came to a house where people were making merry drinking wine and dancing. His older brother was there too. Thinking that the boar would not run away from him any time soon, he had decided to drink himself some real courage. When he saw his younger brother coming out of the woods with the prize, his envious and evil heart gave him no peace. He called out to him, "Come in, dear brother. Rest and refresh yourself with a beaker of wine." The younger brother, suspecting no evil, went in and told him about the good dwarf who had given him the spear with which he had killed the boar. The older brother kept him there until evening, and then they set out for the king’s palace together. After dark they came to a bridge over a brook, and the older brother let the younger one cross first. When the younger brother reached the middle above the water, the older one hit him such a blow on the head from behind that he fell down dead. The wicked brother buried his dead sibling beneath the bridge, took the boar, and delivered it to the king, pretending that he had killed it. And so, he received the king's daughter in marriage. When his younger brother did not return, the wicked brother said, "The boar must have ripped him apart," and every one believed the story, after all, many had been destroyed in this way by the monstrous boar. But as no evil deed remains hidden forever this murderous lie was also to come to light. After many long years a shepherd was driving his herd across the bridge and saw a little snow-white bone lying in the sand below. Thinking that it would make a good flute, he climbed down, picked it up, and then carved a flute out of it. When he blew into it for the first time, to his great astonishment the bone began to sing by itself: Oh, my dear shepherd, You are blowing on my little bone. My brother killed me, And buried me beneath the bridge, To get the wild boar For the daughter of the king. "What a wonderful flute," said the shepherd. "It sings by itself. I must take it to the king."
9:41THE RIDDLE Once upon a time there was a prince who had a sudden desire to travel about the world. He took no one with him except a faithful servant. One day he came to a great forest, and when evening fell, he could find no shelter, he didn’t know where he and his servant would spend the night. Then he saw a girl who was walking toward a little house, when he came nearer, he saw that the girl was young and beautiful. The prince spoke to her, saying, "Dear child, can my servant and I find shelter for the night in this little house?" "Oh, yes," said the girl in a sad voice, "You certainly can, but I do not advise you to do so. Do not go inside." "Why not?" asked the prince. The girl sighed and said, "My stepmother practices evil arts, and she does not like strangers." Then the prince realised that he had come to a witch's house, but because it was dark, and he could go no further, and not really feeling afraid, he and his servant entered. The old woman was sitting in an armchair by the fire. She looked at the stranger with her red eyes. "Good evening," she croaked, pretending to be quite friendly. "Sit down and rest." She blew into the coals on which she was cooking something in a small pot. Because the daughter had warned the two to be cautious, to eat nothing, and to drink nothing, they refused offers of sustenance and slept soundly until early morning. While they were getting ready to leave the next morning, and the prince had already mounted his horse, the old woman said, "Wait a moment. Let me give you a farewell drink." While she was getting it the prince rode away, but the servant, who had to tighten his saddle, was there alone when the wicked witch came with the drink. "Take this to your master," she said. But that instant the glass broke and the poison spilled onto the horse. It was so strong that the animal immediately fell down dead. The servant ran after his master and told him what had happened. However, scared though he was, the servant did not want to abandon his saddle, so he ran back to get it. When he reached the dead horse, a raven was already sitting on the horse, pecking out its eyes. "Who knows if we shall find anything better to eat today?" said the servant. So, he killed the raven and took it with him. The prince and his servant wandered in the woods the whole day, but could not find their way out. As night fell, they found an inn and went inside. The servant gave the raven to the innkeeper to prepare for supper. Now, they had stumbled into a den of murderers, and twelve murderers arrived in the dark, intending to kill the strangers and rob them. But before doing so they sat down to supper, and the innkeeper and the witch sat down with them. Together they ate a dish of soup into which they had cut up the raven meat. They had scarcely swallowed a few spoonful’s when they all fell down dead, for the raven had passed on to them the poison from the horsemeat. Now there was no one left in the house but the innkeeper's daughter. She meant well and had not taken part in the evil deeds of the witch and the outlaws. She opened all the doors for the stranger and showed him piles of treasure. However, the prince said that she should keep everything. He wanted none of it, and with his servant he rode on his way. After traveling about for a long time, they came to a town where there was a beautiful but proud princess. She had made it known that she would marry any man who could ask her a riddle that she could not solve. However, if she solved it his head would be cut off. She had three days to think about it, but was so clever that she always solved the riddle that she had been given before the deadline. When the prince arrived nine men had already died in this manner. However, he was blinded by her great beauty and was willing to risk his life for it....
6:52THE MOON In days gone by there was a land where the nights were always dark and the sky spread over it like a black cloth, for there the moon never rose, and no stars shone in the deep darkness of sky. Four young fellows once went out of this country on a travelling expedition, and arrived in another kingdom, where, in the evening when the sun had disappeared behind the mountains, a shining globe was placed on an oak-tree, which shed a soft light far and wide. By means of this, everything could be seen very well, even though it was a far softer light than the sun’s. The travellers stopped and asked a countryman who was driving past with his cart, what kind of a light that was. "That is the moon," answered he; "our mayor bought it for three heavy coins, and fastened it to the oak-tree. He has to pour oil into it daily, and has to keep it clean, so that it will always burn clearly. He receives a heavy coin a week from us for doing it." When the countryman had driven away, one of them said, "We could make some use of this lamp, we have an oak-tree at home, which is just as big as this, and we could hang it on that. What a pleasure it would be not to have to feel about at night in the darkness!" "I'll tell you what we'll do," said the second; "we will fetch a cart and horses and carry away the moon. The people here can buy themselves another moon." "I'm a good climber," said the third, "I will bring it down." The fourth got a cart and horses, and the third climbed the tree, bored a hole in the moon, passed a rope through it, and let it down. When the shining ball lay in the cart, they covered it over with a cloth, so that no one might observe the theft. They brought it safely into their own country, and placed it on a high oak. Old and young rejoiced, when the new lamp let its light shine over the whole land, and bed-rooms and sitting-rooms were filled with it as it shone through the windows. The dwarfs came forth from their caves in the rocks, and the tiny elves in their little red coats danced in rings on the meadows. The four friends took care that the moon was provided with oil, cleaned the wick, and received a heavy coin, every week from their fellow countrymen, but in time they became old, and when one of them grew ill, and saw that he was about to die, he appointed that one quarter of the moon, should, as his property, be laid in the grave with him. When he died, the mayor climbed up the tree, and cut off a quarter with the hedge-shears, and this was placed in his coffin. The light of the moon decreased, but not so much that you’d notice the difference. When the second man died, the second quarter of the moon was buried with him, and the light diminished noticeably. It grew weaker still after the death of the third, who likewise took his part of it away with him; and when the fourth was borne to his grave, the old state of darkness recommenced, and whenever the people went out at night without their lanterns, they knocked their heads together. When, however, the pieces of the moon had united themselves together again in the world below, where darkness had always prevailed, the dead became restless and awoke from their sleep. They were astonished when they were able to see again; the moonlight was quite sufficient for them, for their eyes had become so weak that they could not have been able to stand the brilliant light of the sun. The dead people rose up and were merry, and fell into their former ways of living. Some of them went to the theatre and to dance, others hastened to the public-houses, where they asked for wine, got drunk, brawled, quarrelled, and at last took up cudgels, and hit each other with them. The noise became greater and greater, and at last reached all the way up to heaven. Saint Peter, who guards the gate of heaven, thought the lower world had broken out in revolt and gathered together the heavenly troops,.........
Weighing the Elephant
3:23Weighing the Elephant A long time ago, people who lived in China knew that a strange, amazing beast called an elephant, lived in a faraway land, but no one had ever seen one. One day, a ruler from a distant country came to see the Emperor of China. He brought a gift, and that gift was a real, live elephant! Never had anyone in China seen anything like it. It was all anyone at court could talk about. “This elephant is bigger than a water buffalo!” said one mandarin. “Are you kidding?” said a second. “It’s bigger than a rhino!” “You must be joking,” said a third. “This elephant is bigger than TWO rhinos!” One day the Emperor said to his council, “I want to know how much this amazing elephant weighs. Who can tell me how to weigh it?” “I can!” said the first mandarin, who used to be a merchant. “We will just put it on a scale.” “Not likely,” said the Emperor. “There is no scale that could hold the weight of an elephant without breaking.” “I can tell you!” said the second mandarin, who used to be a tailor. He said, “We will measure the elephant.” “No,” said the Emperor with a sigh. “Even if you measured all the different parts of an elephant, you would still not know how much it weighs.” “I can tell you!” said the third mandarin, who used to be a baker. “We will cut up the elephant and cook it. Then we will know.” “We will surely NOT do that, idiot!” roared the Emperor. “Is there NO ONE who can tell me how to weigh the elephant?” Then a small voice said, “I can.” All eyes turned to the voice. It was the Emperor’s son! “Son!” said the Emperor. “You should be in bed.” “But I know how,” said the boy. “It’s easy.” “Very well,” said the Emperor with a smile. “Tell me how to weigh the elephant.” So the boy said. “You put the elephant in a big boat and take the boat out on the water. Draw a line on the side of the boat where the water comes up to. Then bring the boat back to shore and take the elephant off the boat. Put rocks on the boat, one by one. When the boat sinks to the same watermark line it had when the elephant was in it, bring the boat to shore again. Take out the rocks and weigh them, one by one, then add the weight of all the rocks up. That is how you can tell how much the elephant weighs!" "Wonderful! Wonderful!" shouted everyone. “It will work!” called out the first mandarin. “What a clever plan!” said the second. “Who knew this child would know?” said the third. And the fame of Emperor's clever son travelled far and wide.