menu

Fables & Fairy Tales That Teach a Lesson or Moral


Anyone who has attempted to hold a child's attention span for longer than a few minutes knows how difficult this can be. However, fables and fairy tales are ideal for a young audience because they are short and creative stories, and they can teach children valuable lessons.

The Fox and the Cat

In "The Fox and the Cat," a fox and a cat meet in the woods. The fox brags to the cat that he has an endless supply of tricks for outsmarting dogs. The cat modestly responds that she knows one trick: climb a tree. Suddenly dogs appear, and the cat nimbly escapes by climbing up a tree. The fox, however, is captured. The lesson of the fable is to avoid boastfulness. Since the fox was busy boasting about how talented he is, he did not notice the approaching dogs. The cat, however, was less focused on herself and she was able to avoid being captured.

Mercury and the Workman

The "Mercury and the Workman" tells of a workman who accidentally drops his ax into a deep lake. A character named Mercury appears and offers to fetch the workman's ax. Mercury dives into the lake and reappears with first a gold ax and then a silver ax. Both times, the workman honestly informs Mercury that neither is his ax. The third time, Mercury appears with the workman's ax, a plain ax not as valuable as either the gold or silver axes. The workman claims that ax as his own and as a reward is given all three axes to take home. The lesson is that honest actions are rewarded. Because the workman was honest, he received all three axes; if he would have lied and claimed either the gold or silver ax, he would have received only that one ax.

The Princess and the Pea

In "The Princess and the Pea," a queen is searching for a princess to marry her son, the prince. When a princess approaches their castle, she does not look like the traditional princess. Her hair is messy and her clothes are torn. To test the girl, the queen invites her to stay the night and puts a small pea under her mattresses, for only a true princess would be sensitive enough to feel the pea under the mattresses. The next morning, when the girl complains of an uncomfortable mattress, the queen knows the girl is a princess and agrees to let the prince and the princess marry.

The lesson is that you should not judge others by their appearance. Some people might not look as you might expect them to look, but appearances can be deceiving. The queen did not expect the princess to look like she did, but a person's identity is not rooted in her hairstyle or clothes.

The Crumbs on the Table

In "The Crumbs on the Table," a rooster tells the hens to jump on their master's table and eat the crumbs while the master is away. The hens protest, knowing they are not allowed to do so. The rooster assures them that their master will never find out, and eventually the hens jump on the table and eat the crumbs. As they are eating, the master returns home and punishes the hens for jumping on the table.

The lesson of this tale is to trust your instincts and not give in to peer pressure. The hens got into trouble because they let the rooster pressure them to do something they knew they shouldn't do. If they would have ignored the rooster, they would not have been punished.

About the Author

Christine Maddox Martorana has been writing professionally since 2003. Martorana has been teaching college-level composition and journalism classes since 2007. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English at Florida State University.

Photo Credits
  • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images