Engaging Read Alouds: The Little Red Hen

'The Little Red Hen' is a classic folk tale, possibly of Russian origin, that's commonly available as a picture book for children. The most popular version in the U.S. is the Little Golden Book edition, originally published in 1954. The simple story and clear moral make 'The Little Red Hen' an excellent book for reading aloud to your child.

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the little red hen folk tale read aloud story

About the Story

The story begins with the titular red hen finding a grain of wheat on the ground. She asks the other barnyard animals for help planting the seed. The duck, goose, pig and cat all refuse to help her, so she plants the wheat herself.

Despite the other animals' earlier refusal, the hen again seeks their help once the wheat has grown tall. When it's time to reap, however, the animals again won't help her. They also don't help when she must carry the wheat to the mill. Each time she is denied help, the hen decides to do the task at hand herself.

After arriving at home, the hen continues to solicit help in making dough and baking bread. Again, the duck, goose, pig and cat refuse in quick succession. When the bread is done and it's time to eat, she asks one last time if anyone will help her. All the animals say that they will help her, but she says, 'No, I will eat it myself!'

Ideal for Reading Aloud

The Little Red Hen is told with repetitive language that will facilitate your child connecting with and remembering the story. Each time the hen asks who will help her, each animal responds, 'Not I!' in sequence. Once your child understands the pattern, he or she can participate in the story by playing the role of the other barnyard animals. You or your child can create different voices for the various animals in order to add a theatrical flair to reading the story.

Learning from the Story

The Little Red Hen teaches your child that in order to enjoy the benefits of the end product, he or she should make an active contribution. The duck, goose, pig and cat are asked repeatedly to assist the hen and they repeatedly say no. They are flummoxed when the hen ultimately refuses to share her bread, yet it's their failure to help that led to this conclusion.

A secondary but also valuable lesson from The Little Red Hen involves understanding how bread is created from wheat. The story follows the path of the wheat, from planting to harvesting to milling. Through The Little Red Hen, your child will understand the basics of wheat and bread.

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