Stories are, perhaps, the best way to teach life lessons to children. You can teach them the values and morals without being preachy. These short moral stories for kids will keep them engaged.
1) The Boy who Cried Wolf
Once upon a time, there lived a shepherd boy who was bored watching his flock of sheep on the hill. To amuse himself, he shouted, “Wolf! Wolf! The sheep are being chased by the wolf!” The villagers came running to help the boy and save the sheep. They found nothing and the boy just laughed looking at their angry faces.
“Don’t cry ‘wolf’ when there’s no wolf boy!”, they said angrily and left. The boy just laughed at them.
After a while, he got bored and cried ‘wolf!’ again, fooling the villagers a second time. The angry villagers warned the boy a second time and left. The boy continued watching the flock. After a while, he saw a real wolf and cried loudly, “Wolf! Please help! The wolf is chasing the sheep. Help!”
But this time, no one turned up to help. By evening, when the boy didn’t return home, the villagers wondered what happened to him and went up the hill. The boy sat on the hill weeping. “Why didn’t you come when I called out that there was a wolf?” he asked angrily. “The flock is scattered now”, he said.
An old villager approached him and said, “People won’t believe liars even when they tell the truth. We’ll look for your sheep tomorrow morning. Let’s go home now”.
2) The Midas touch
In ancient Greek, there was a king named Midas. He had a lot of gold and everything he needed. He also had a beautiful daughter. Midas loved his gold very much, but he loved his daughter more than his riches.
One day, a satyr named Silenus got drunk and passed out in Midas’ rose garden. Believing that Satyrs always bring good luck, Midas lets Silenus rest in his palace until he is sober, against the wishes of his wife and daughter. Silenus is a friend of Dionysus, the god of wine and celebration. Upon learning Midas’ kindness towards his friend, Dionysus decides to reward the keg.
When asked to wish for something, Midas says “I wish everything I touch turns to gold”. Although Dionysus knew it was not a great idea, he granted Midas his wish.
Happy that his wish was granted, Midas went around touching random things in the garden and his palace and turned them all into gold. He touched an apple, and it turned into a shiny gold apple. His subjects were astonished but happy to see so much gold in the palace.
In his happiness, Midas went and hugged his daughter, and before he realized, he turned her into a lifeless, golden statue! Aghast, Midas ran back to the garden and called for Dionysus. He begged the god to take away his power and save his daughter. Dionysus gives Midas a solution to change everything back to how it was before the wish. Midas learned his lesson and lived the rest of his life contended with what he had.
3) The Needle Tree
There were once two brothers who lived on the edge of a forest. The elder brother was very mean to his younger brother and ate up all the food and took all his good clothes. One day, the elder brother went into the forest to find some firewood to sell in the market. As he went around chopping the branches of a tree after tree, he came upon a magical tree. The tree said to him, ‘Oh kind sir, please do not cut my branches.
If you spare me, I will give you my golden apples’. The elder brother agreed but was disappointed with the number apples the tree gave him. Greed overcame him, and he threatened to cut the entire trunk if the tree didn’t give him more apples. The magical tree instead showered upon the elder brother hundreds upon hundreds of tiny needles. The elder brother lay on the ground crying in pain as the sun began to lower down the horizon.The younger brother grew worried and went in search of his elder brother.
He found him with hundreds of needles on his skin. He rushed to his brother and removed each needle with painstaking love. After he finished, the elder brother apologised for treating him badly and promised to be better. The tree saw the change in the elder brother’s heart and gave them all the golden apples they could ever need.
4) Counting wisely
Akbar once put a question to his court that left everyone puzzled. As they all tried to figure out the answer, Birbal walked and asked what the matter was. And so they told him the question.
‘How many crows are there in the city?’
Birbal immediately smiled, went up to Akbar and announced that the answer to his questions was twenty-one thousand five hundred and twenty-three. When asked how he knew the answer, Birbal replied, ‘Ask your men to count the number of crows. If there are more, then the crows’ relatives from outside the city are visiting them. If there are fewer, then the crows are visiting their relatives outside the city.’ Pleased with the answer, Akbar presented Birbal with a ruby and pearl chain.
5) The Midas Touch
This is the story of a very greedy rich man who chanced upon meeting a fairy. The fairy’s hair was caught in a few tree branches. Realising he had an opportunity to make even more money, he asked for a wish in return for helping the fairy. He said, ’All that I touch should turn to gold’, and his wish was granted by the grateful fairy.
The greedy man rushed home to tell his wife and daughter about his new boon, all the while touching stones and pebbles and converting them into gold. Once he got home, his daughter rushed to greet him. As soon as he bent down to scoop her up in his arms, she turned into a gold statue. He realized his folly and spent the rest of his days searching for the fairy to take away his wish.
6) The Milkmaid and Her Pail
Patty the milkmaid had just finished milking her cow and had two full pails of fresh creamy milk. She put both pails on a stick and set off to the market to sell her pails of milk. Along the way she started to think of all the milk in her pails and all the money she would get for them.
‘Once I get the money, I’ll buy a chicken’, she thought. ‘The chicken will lay eggs and I will get more chickens. They’ll all lay eggs and I can sell them for more money. Then I’ll buy the house on the hill and be the envy of everyone in the village. They’ll ask me to sell the chicken farm, but I’ll toss my head like this and refuse’. So saying, Patty, the milkmaid tossed her head and dropped her pails. The milk spilled onto the ground while Patty cried.
7)When Adversity Knocks
This is a story explaining how adversity is met differently by different people. Asha’s father placed an egg, a potato, and some tea leaves in three separate vessels with boiling water. He asked Asha to keep an eye on the vessels for ten minutes. Once these ten minutes were over , he asked Asha to peel the potato, peel the egg and strain the tea leaves. Asha was left puzzled.
Her father explained , ‘Each of these items was but in the same circumstance of being in a pot of boiling water. See how they’ve responded differently. The potato is now soft, the egg is now hard, and the tea has changed the water itself. We are all like these items. When adversity calls we respond in exactly the way they have. Now are you a potato, an egg or are you tea leaves?’
8) The Golden Egg
Once upon a time, a farmer had a goose that laid a golden egg every day. The egg provided enough money for the farmer and his wife for their day-to-day needs. The farmer and his wife were happy for a long time. But one day, the farmer got an idea and thought, “Why should I take just one egg a day?
Why can’t I take all of them at once and make a lot of money?”
The foolish farmer’s wife also agreed and decided to cut the goose’s stomach for the eggs. As soon as they killed the bird and opened the goose’s stomach, to find nothing but guts and blood. The farmer, realizing his foolish mistake, cries over the lost resource!
The English idiom “kill not the goose that lays the golden egg” was also derived from this classic story.
9) The Miser And His GoLd
An old miser lived in a house with a garden. The miser hid his gold coins in a pit under some stones in the garden. Every day, before going to bed, the miser went to the stones where he hid the gold and counted the coins. He continued this routine every day, but not once did he spend the gold he saved.
One day, a thief who knew the old miser’s routine, waited for the old man to go back into his house. After it was dark, the thief went to the hiding place and took the gold. The next day, the old miser found that his treasure was missing and started crying loudly.
His neighbor heard the miser’s cries and inquired about what happened. On learning what happened, the neighbor asked, “Why didn’t you save the money inside the house? It would’ve been easier to access the money when you had to buy something!”
“Buy?”, said the miser. “I never used the gold to buy anything. I was never going to spend it.”
On hearing this, the neighbor threw a stone into the pit and said, “If that is the case, save the stone. It is as worthless as the gold you have lost”.
10) The Tortoise And The Bird
A tortoise was resting under a tree, on which a bird had built its nest. The tortoise spoke to the bird mockingly, “What a shabby home you have! It is made of broken twigs, it has no roof, and looks crude. What’s worse is that you had to build it yourself. I think my house, which is my shell, is much better than your pathetic nest”.
“Yes, it is made of broken sticks, looks shabby and is open to the elements of nature. It is crude, but I built it, and I like it.”
“I guess it’s just like any other nest, but not better than mine”, said the tortoise. “You must be jealous of my shell, though.”
“On the contrary”, the bird replied. “My home has space for my family and friends; your shell cannot accommodate anyone other than you. Maybe you have a better house. But I have a better home”, said the bird happily.
11) The Cows And The Tiger
Four cows lived in a forest near a meadow. They were good friends and did everything together. They grazed together and stayed together, because of which no tigers or lions were able to kill them for food.
But one day, the friends fought and each cow went to graze in a different direction. A tiger and a lion saw this and decided that it was the perfect opportunity to kill the cows. They hid in the bushes and surprised the cows and killed them all, one by one.
12) The Four Students
There were four friends who hated studying. They partied all night before their exams and planned to skip the test by lying to the professor. So they went to the dean and told him that they had been to a wedding the previous night and on their way back, they had a flat tire. They continued to say that they had to push the car all the way back, as they didn’t have a spare tire and hence, were not in a position to write the exam.
The dean listened and agreed to let them take the test on a later date. Happy that they got a second chance, the four friends studied hard and were ready for the exam. On exam day, the dean asked the students to sit in separate classrooms, which the students agreed to.
The examination paper had only two questions, for a total of 100 marks. The questions were thus:
Which tire of the car burst: a) Front left b) Front right c) Rear left d) Rear right
13) The Boasting Traveler
A man came back from a tour and boasted about his adventurous journeys. He talked at length about the different people he met and his amazing feats that got him fame and praise from people everywhere. He went on to say that he went to the Rhodes where he had leaped to such distances that no man could ever match his feat.
He even went on to say that there were witnesses who would vouch for his words. Hearing the man boast so much, a smart bystander said, “Oh good man, we do not need any witnesses to believe your words. Imagine this place to be Rhodes and leap for us”.
The lying traveler didn’t know what to do and went away quietly.
14) The Camel And The Baby
One day, a camel and her baby were chatting. The baby asked, “Mother, why do we have humps?” The mother replied, “Our humps are for storing water so that we can survive in the desert”.
“Oh”, said the child, “and why do we have rounded feet mother?” “Because they are meant to help us walk comfortably in the desert. These legs help us move around in the sand.”
“Alright. But why are our eyelashes so long?” “To protect our eyes from the desert dust and sand. They are the protective covers for the eyes”, replied the mother camel.
The baby camel thought for a while and said, “So we have humps to store water for desert journeys, rounded hooves to keep us comfortable when we walk in the desert sand, and long eyelashes to protect us from sand and dust during a desert storm. Then what are we doing in a zoo?”
The mother was dumbfounded.
15) The Farmer And The Well
A farmer looking for a source of water for his farm bought a well from his neighbor. The neighbor was cunning, though, and refused to let the farmer take water from the well. On asking why, he replied, “I sold the well to you, not the water”, and walked away. The distraught farmer didn’t know what to do. So he went to Birbal, a clever man and one of the nine courtiers of Emperor Akbar, for a solution.
The emperor called the farmer and his neighbor and asked why the man was not letting the farmer draw water from the well. The cunning man said the same thing again, “I sold the well, not the water. So he cannot take my water”.
To this, Birbal replied, “All that sounds fine to me. But if you have sold the water and the water is yours, then you have no business keeping your water in his well. Remove the water or use it all up immediately. If not the water will belong to the owner of the well”.
Realizing that he’s been tricked and taught his lesson, the man apologized and left.
16) A Proud Rose
Once upon a time there was a rose who was very proud of her beautiful looks. Her only disappointment was that she grew next to an ugly cactus. Every day, the rose would insult the cactus on his looks while the cactus stayed quiet. All the other plants in the garden tried to make the rose see sense, but she was too swayed by her own good looks.
One summer, the well present in the garden grew dry and there was no water for the plants. The rose began to wilt. She saw a sparrow dip her beak into the cactus for some water. Though ashamed, she asked the cactus if she too could have some water. The kind cactus readily agreed and they both got through the tough summer as friends.
17) True Friends
Lord Krishna and Sudama were childhood friends. While Krishna thrived and prospered, Sudama didn’t. He lead the life of a poor Brahmin man, living in a small hut with his wife and kids. Most days, the kids wouldn’t even get enough to eat from what Sudama got as alms. One day, his wife suggested that he go and ask his friend Krishna for help.
Sudama was reluctant to seek favors, but he also didn’t want his kids to suffer. So his wife borrows some rice from the neighbors to make some rice snacks that Krishna liked, and gave it to Sudama to take it to his friend. Sudama took it and set out to Dwaraka. He was amazed at the gold that was used to build the city. He reached the palace gates and was obstructed by the guards, who judged him by his torn dhoti and poor appearance.
Sudama requested the guards to at least inform Krishna that his friend Sudama has come to meet him. The guard, although reluctant, goes and informs the lord. On hearing that Sudama was here, Krishna stops doing whatever he was doing and runs barefoot to meet his childhood friend.
Krishna hugs Sudama welcomes him to his abode and treats him with utmost love and respect. Sudama, ashamed of the poor man’s rice snacks he got for Krishna, tries to hide it. But the all-knowing Krishna asks Sudama for his gift and eats his favorite rice snacks that his friend brought for him.
Krishna and his friend spend time laughing and talking about their childhood but Sudama, overwhelmed by the kindness and compassion showed by his friend, is unable to ask Krishna for help. When he returns home, Sudama finds that his hut has been replaced by a huge mansion and his wife and kids are dressed in fine clothes.
Sudama realized how lucky he was to have a true friend like Krishna. He didn’t even ask, but Krishna knew what Sudama wanted and gave it to him.
18) Elephant and Friends
A lone elephant wandered the forest looking for friends. She came across a monkey and asked, “Will you be my friend, monkey?” “You are too big and cannot swing on trees as I do. So I cannot be your friend”, said the monkey.
The elephant them came across a rabbit and asked him if she could be his friend. “You are too big to fit inside my burrow. You cannot be my friend”, replied the rabbit.
Then the elephant met a frog and asked if she could be her friend. The frog said “You are too big and heavy. You cannot jump like me. I am sorry, but you cannot be my friend”.
The elephant asked a fox, and he got the same reply, that he was too big. The next day, all the animals in the forest were running in fear. The elephant stopped a bear and asked what was happening and was told that a tiger has been attacking all the animals.
The elephant wanted to save the other weak animals and went to the tiger and said “Please sir, leave my friends alone. Do not eat them”. The tiger didn’t listen and asked the elephant to mind her own business. Seeing no other way to solve the problem, the elephant kicked the tiger and scared it away.
She then went back to the others and told them what happened. On hearing how the elephant saved their lives, the animals agreed in unison, “You are just the right size to be our friend”.
19) The Tale Of A Pencil
Raj was upset because he had done poorly in his English test. His grandmother sat with him and gave him a pencil. A puzzled Raj looked at his grandma and said he didn’t deserve a pencil after his performance in the test. His grandma explained, ‘You can learn a great many things from this pencil because it is just like you. It experiences a painful sharpening, just the way you have experienced the pain of not doing well on your test. However, it will help you be a better student. Just as all the good that comes from the pencil is from within itself, you will also find the strength to overcome this hurdle. And finally, just as this pencil will make its mark on any surface, you too shall leave your mark on anything you choose to’. Raj was immediately consoled and promised himself that he would do better.
20) The Crystal Ball
Nasir found a crystal ball behind a banyan tree in his garden. When the tree old him it would grant him a wish, he thought and thought but could not think of anything he wanted. So he kept the crystal ball in his bag and waited to decide on his wish. Days went by without him making a wish but his best friend saw him looking at the crystal ball. He stole it from Nasir and showed it to everyone in the village. They all asked for palaces and gold but could not ask for more than one wish. In the end, everyone was angry because no one could have everything. They became very unhappy and decided to ask Nasir for help.
Nasir wished that everything would become as it once was before the villagers had tried to satisfy their greed. The palaces and gold vanished and the villagers grew happy and content once again.
21) Bundle Of Sticks
Three neighbors were having trouble with their crops. All three fields had crops that were wilting and infested with pests. Each day they would try different ideas to help their crops. The first one tried using a scarecrow, the second used pesticides, and the third built a fence on his field, all to no avail.
One day, the village head came by and called all three farmers. He gave them each a stick and asked them to break the sticks. The farmers could break them easily. He then gave them a bundle of three sticks and asked them to break it. This time, the farmers struggled to break the sticks. The village head said, ‘Together you are stronger than when you work alone’. The farmers pooled their resources and got rid of the pests in their fields.
As Hari walked home after school one day, he suddenly felt faint with hunger and knew his mother would not have any food ready for him at home. He grew desperate and went from house to house asking for food. Finally, a girl gave him a tall glass of milk. When he tried to pay her she refused and sent him on his way.
Years later, the girl, now a grown woman, fell very sick and could not find anyone who could cure her. Finally, she went to a large hospital with the city’s greatest doctor. The doctor spent months treating the woman until she was finally cured. The woman was happy but was also afraid she could not pay the bill. When the hospital handed the bill to her, she opened it to read, ‘Paid in full, with a glass of milk.
22) The Fox And The Grapes
A fox was once very hungry and went in search of some food. He searched everywhere, but he couldn’t find anything that he could eat. Finally, with his stomach rumbling, he came upon a farmer’s wall. On top of the wall were the biggest, juiciest grapes the fox had ever seen. The rich purple color told the fox that they were ready to be eaten. The fox jumped high in the air to catch the grapes in his mouth, but he missed. He tried again and missed again. He tried a few more times but missed each time. Finally, the fox decided to go home all the while muttering, ‘I’m sure the grapes were sour anyway’.
23) The Ant And The Grasshopper
There were two best friends – an ant and a grasshopper. The grasshopper liked to relax the whole day and play his guitar. The ant, however, would work hard all day. He would collect food from all corners of the garden while the grasshopper relaxed, or played his guitar, or slept. The grasshopper would tell the ant to take a break every day, but the ant would refuse and continue his work. Soon, winter came. The days and nights became cold and very few creatures went out. The grasshopper couldn’t find any food and was hungry all the time. However, the ant had enough food for him to last through the winter without any worries at all.
24) The Wet Pants
Ajay was a small boy who loved his school and his schoolmates. One day, as he sat at his desk, he suddenly felt damp and realized he had wet his pants! Mortified, Ajay did not know what to do or say as he knew everyone in class would make fun of him for wetting his pants. He sat at his desk praying for any kind of help. Diksha was carrying water in a jug to water the class plants. As she approached Ajay’s desk, she suddenly tripped and dumped the whole contents of the jug onto his lap. Everyone rushed to help Ajay. The teacher reprimanded Diksha and gave Ajay a spare set of shorts. At the end of the day, Ajay met Diksha on the bus. He asked, ‘You did that on purpose didn’t you?’ Diksha replied, ‘I’ve wet my pants before too
25) The Bear And Two Friends
Two best friends were walking a lonely and dangerous path through a jungle. As the sun began to set, they grew afraid but held on to each other. Suddenly, they saw a bear in their path. One of the boys ran to the nearest tree and climbed it within a jiffy. The other boy did not know how to climb trees by himself so he lay on the ground pretending to be dead. The bear approached the boy on the ground and sniffed around his head. Thinking that the boy was dead, the bear went on its way. The boy on the tree climbed down and asked his friend what had the bear whispered in his ear. He replied, ‘Do not trust friends who do not care for you.’