Let these updated children’s fables edify you and your children.
The Ant and the Grasshopper
An ant gathered food and stored it for the winter. It was difficult work, but rewarding. The ant reassured himself that his hard work would pay off with survival, and maybe something of a home vacation if he just did enough. So the time passed as the ant toiled, at first under the blazing sun of late Summer and later until a cold chill permeated the autumn air.
This whole time there was a grasshopper. As the ant worked hard every day, the grasshopper mocked him for it, spending his days relaxing or at play instead. When he wasn’t lazing about in the shade or partying with the other bugs, he would curiously stare at the ant, wondering what on earth could possess someone to live like that when there was fun to be had!
When winter came and the first snow fell, the ant took stock of what he had gathered; it was enough for over a year. He wisely believed that, if a hard winter came, there would be a need for more than just three months! As he began to relax and pat himself on the back, the grasshopper knocked upon his door.
“Let me in! I can’t find a single bit to eat out here in the cold! Please, ant, feed me!” he shouted.
“Ah, dear grasshopper, I think we have learned a lesson here,” the ant smiled. “I will be happy to share with you, but I think next year you should not be so lazy!”
Upon hearing this, the grasshopper was at first confused, as he did not know how laziness could have brought him his misfortune. But then, without a second thought, he became very indignant, and his irritation quickly turned into hot rage.
“How dare you, little ant! You think I was lazy? You must have stolen all this food from me, you little devil!”
The ant began to protest and attempted to reason with the grasshopper, but it was to no avail. Though he was kind, and though he was patient, he was doomed. Within seconds, he was within the grasshopper’s frightful jaws. The green beast tore him limb from limb, and then moved on to kill the other ants in the vicinity, deciding that all of them were wicked thieves.
That evening the grasshopper gorged himself on all the ant had gathered up. Then he starved to death.
The Three Little Pigs
There were three little pigs who decided each should make his home. The youngest, eager to take his daily nap, made a hut of straw with a curtain for a door. The middle pig did not know how to make a home, but decided he would try his best anyway, and the finished product was a small cabin made of sticks. The oldest pig, on the other hand, had more imagination, and he pictured himself living in a beautiful house made of the finest bricks.
The youngest pig woke up from his slumber to footsteps and heavy breathing. The Big Bad Wolf was there, snarling at the hut made of straw. “Little pig, little pig, let me in,” the wolf said. Being afraid, the pig said nothing and pretended he wasn’t home. With no answer, the wolf sat there perplexed. Certainly he smelled a piglet, and he could have sworn he heard a piglet, but he did not see a piglet nor hear it now! So the Big Bad Wolf grumpily moved on, and the youngest pig sighed with relief. Thankfully, the the piglet knew when to be quiet.
While this was happening the sun set, and the middle pig had just finished his ugly, haphazard stick cabin. “It’ll have to do for now” he said, wiping his sweat off and retiring into his new home. The oldest pig, however, was just getting started. He wanted the perfect home; he spent half the day planning how to make the perfect foundation for the house, and the other half of the day making bricks.
But the Big Bad Wolf was still on the prowl. He still smelled a piglet somewhere about, and he could swear he was still hearing piglets oinking, but all he saw was an ugly beaver-dam in the middle of the woods! Surely, he reasoned, there was no way a piglet lived there. So the Big Bad Wolf moved on and the middle pig was safe. Thankfully, the middle pig was wise enough to make do with what he had.
Now it was night time, and the oldest pig was still at work. He imagined the perfect house, and by golly he just knew he was going to get it if only he worked hard enough! So he fetched a light and continued to work through the night, making bricks and loudly tossing them into sections: one pile of bricks for this future wall, another pile for that. He would not settle for anything less than perfection, so he did not even notice when the Big Bad Wolf snuck up behind him. The oldest pig was devoured quickly, because his imagination kept him from living in the real world.
The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg
Once upon a time, Farmer Sam found and caught a wild goose. There was a famine in the land, and he thought himself quite lucky to find a big bird like this – just in time for dinner, no less! So he took the goose into his barn, put her in a cage, and prepared to butcher her. But just then, the goose let out a mighty HONK, and laid a golden egg in front of the farmer with a loud CLUNK.
When he heard this, the farmer marveled at what he saw. Taking the egg from the cage, he went to the jeweler, and found out that – goodness gracious! – the egg was indeed made of solid gold. As he walked home, he wondered what kind of treasures lay inside the goose’s stomach, and asked himself whether he should cut her open to find out.
But then he decided to make the most out of this goose.
So the farmer decided the goose should be his gold-laying slave. He kept her in the cage and force fed her grain until she was laying two golden eggs a day, and she became so fat that she could not move. The goose regularly cried out, yearning for freedom, weeping with great noise and violently flapping her wings. Farmer Sam, upset that she should irritate him so, considered having her vocal cords taken out, but decided against it lest the surgery accidentally kill her – and his source of riches. So instead he had her muzzled, and force-fed sugar-water and buttercream instead of grain from then on.
Farmer Sam was now the richest man in the county, but it was not enough growth, not enough wealth, never enough. He began to shout, every morning, “Things Shall Get Even Better!” He decided that, to grow his business yet more, he must have more geese laying more golden eggs. So he spent a fortune on buying breeding ganders from across the whole world – the roughest, toughest ganders he could find.
Now the poor Goose was whimpering from her sorry state, covered in rotting buttercream and her own filth. When she was not forced to eat, she tried fruitlessly to get the ants off of her body, who would nibble at the flecks of food and filth all around her. It was at this point, her lowest yet, that Farmer Sam came in with his savage breeding geese. As for what happened next, well, we should spare the details about this part for the children.
It was about at this point, the golden eggs became less common; the poor goose was now laying maybe one golden egg a week, with the other eggs either being her children, or normal eggs. To Farmer Sam’s dismay, the goslings she bore never laid any golden eggs either. Instead, they grew to be the nasty, rough kinds of geese and ganders that their fathers were, and they misbehaved every day, making life on Sam’s farm very unpleasant.
Once she got too old to lay eggs anymore, Farmer Sam was furious. At his wits’ end he beat the poor goose to death, cursing her as a wicked and evil goose for not giving him even more. Then he retired, and the rough geese took over his farm. A new famine hit the land, and they all perished in a fortnight.
The Fox and the Grapes
Once upon a time there was a very clever fox. He was so clever that there was no riddle he could not answer and no puzzle he could not solve. All the animals of the forest admired him for his cleverness and kindness, how he taught everyone to be nice to each other – especially nice to foxes.
Every day, the clever fox spent all afternoon teaching the other animals how to use their brains like he could, and at the end of every day he was famished. But alas, there was never any food to be had except some grapes upon a vine. It was very high up, so high up that the fox risked great harm if he decided to climb.
But the fox never risked the climb for the grapes. After all, they were probably very sour. Instead, each day he would pace back and forth, bemoaning that he could not reach them, until a squirrel would notice. The squirrels were very charitable, and they were very grateful for the way the fox taught them. So every day, one would see the fox moaning over his hunger, offer to help, and immediately find himself devoured. Patting himself on the stomach, the fox frequently thought to himself, “Poor fools, these squirrels. I may be smart, but I still have a nature!”
Now, should the fox worry that the squirrels would notice? Of course not. Whenever a squirrel got too smart and saw what was happening, the others would punish and cast them out. So the fox taught them, because he was very clever.
The Little Engine that Could
Once there was an old train that did his best. You might say that he was the best of the best. He was so good at carrying things, that hill and dale could not stop him. Whenever there was a steep climb to be made, he simply said to himself, “I think I can, I know I can, I think I can, I know I can” until he finished the trek – all to the applause of the happy people who needed him. Other trains were quite jealous, because though they were newer, they never could match his good attitude and work ethic.
But then, sadly, there came a day when the little old engine could not. There was a hill simply too big, a load too heavy, and no amount of “I think I can, I know I can” would make even the slightest difference. You might think that the rail officials and conductors would lighten the load to help; after all, everyone loved this train for the things he did, and for his good attitude he had all the time. Wouldn’t they be understanding?
Instead, they believed the engine to be a failure. All that he did for them was forgotten, and the people were so angry at the little engine, that they disassembled him and melted him down for parts.