Kids love bedtime stories. Whether it's a story about magical lands with fairies in it or one where animals know how to speak - children can’t get enough of stories, especially when they’re tucked in their bed for the night. Wouldn’t you love to narrate to your kids some classic Indian small stories that would also teach them valuable lessons about life?
If you’re one such parent who is on the lookout for interesting stories for children in English, then our list of bedtime stories about popular Indian characters will excite you. These classic tales will not just entertain your kids and prepare them for a night of blissful sleep, but will also give wings to their flights of fancy.
1. The Crow and The Pitcher
On a hot day, a crow was feeling thirsty. He saw a pitcher of water with a long and narrow neck, into which his beak could not reach. The crow thought of a brilliant idea to get to the water. He picked a few small pebbles lying around and dropped them into the pitcher one by
one till the level of the water rose. Then, he simply dipped his head inside the pitcher and quenched his thirst.
Moral: When you’re in a difficult situation, use your head and come up with innovative ideas to solve the problem.
2. The Boy Who Cried Wolf
Once there was a naughty boy who had the habit of scaring the villagers by falsely shouting out that a wolf had come into their village. The poor villagers would believe him every time and would come running to save him, only to find that he had been lying to them. This made the villagers very angry. One day, a wolf actually attacked him when he was alone, but when he shouted for help, the villagers thought he was tricking them again and no one came to save him.
Moral: No one believes a liar, even when he is speaking the truth.
3. Sweet Talk
A fox is scouring the area for food. He sees a crow eating cake while perched on the branch of a tree. The fox devises a scheme to obtain the cake by singing praises of the crow. The flattered crow opens her mouth to thank the fox and the cake falls out of her mouth. The fox picks it up and runs away with it, fooling the crow.
Moral: Don’t fall for sweet words.
4. The Fox and The Drum
There was once a cowardly fox who was scared of every little thing. She once heard a loud strange sound which made her afraid, but she still decided to investigate. It turned out to be just a harmless drum being struck by a tree branch. The fox heaved a sigh of relief and felt brave.
Moral: Feel your fear but don’t be paralysed by it.
A scholar gets into a boat to cross a river and is surprised to find that the boatman doesn’t know how to read or write. He looks down upon the boatman and thinks of him as a useless fellow. But when a storm ensues and their boat overturns, the scholar doesn’t know how to swim and is scared for his life. It is the illiterate boatman who comes to his help and saves him.
Moral: One should always be humble and respectful.
6. Changing color
A crow is starving. He observes a group of white doves being fed by people. He too wants to eat the grains. The doves, though, shoo him away. The crow dives into a pail of white paint so that it resembles the doves. Now when he goes to eat the grains, the doves don’t shoo him away and he eats to his heart’s desire. But when he returns back home, his friends refuse to recognize him and turn away from him.
Moral: Always remain true to yourself.
7. The Hare and The Turtle
A quick and overconfident hare and a slow but steady turtle race to the finish line. Thinking that he couldn’t possibly lose to the slow turtle, the hare takes a break from the race and falls asleep under a tree. The turtle steadily maintains his pace and finally reaches the finish line before the sleeping hare realises that he has lost to him.
Moral: Consistency wins and overconfidence loses, always.
8. The Lion and The Mouse
A lion makes fun of a mouse for his size and calls him incapable of doing anything consequential. But when the same lion gets caught in a hunter’s trap, it is the mouse who comes to his rescue by tearing away at the net with his sharp teeth.
Moral: Love and kindness can be shown by anyone, big or small.
9. The Magic Well
Once, a woodcutter’s axe mistakenly falls into a well. A fairy rises from the well and offers the woodcutter a golden axe instead. He refuses her and tells her that the golden axe doesn’t belong to him. Next, she shows him a silver axe and again he refuses to take it. This time he tells the fairy that his axe is made up of simple iron and wood. Astounded by his honesty, the fairy rewards him with all the axes.
Moral: Don’t desire the things that do not belong to you.
10. The Three Brothers
Once there was a father who was troubled by his three sons always fighting with each other. He decided to teach them a lesson. He took a single stick home and showed his sons how easily it broke into half. Then, he bundled up three sticks together and tried to break them, but they didn’t budge. That’s how he helped his sons realise that if they unite against the world, they become unbreakable. But if they keep fighting with each other, they become vulnerable to the world’s forces.
Moral: Unity is strength.
11. The Birds and The Net
A flock of birds lands on the ground to eat grains, but a hunter throws his net at them and traps them. They try to fly away in panic but their leader calms them down and guides them to fly in the same direction. Soon after, they take off, carrying the net away with them far from the hunter’s reach.
Moral: Anything can be achieved when you work together.
12. The Cap Seller
Once a cap seller was napping under a tree and woke up to find all his caps gone, except for one. He found that monkeys sitting on the tree above him were playing with his caps. He picked up the single remaining cap and threw it on the ground. The monkeys immediately mimicked him and threw their caps on the ground too. The cap seller quickly gathered all his caps and left.
Moral: Thinking on your feet can save you from difficult situations.
13. The Ant and The Grasshopper
On a pleasant summer day, a grasshopper saw a group of ants collecting food for the winter season. He made fun of them. He himself enjoyed all summer while the ants persevered. But when winter came, he found himself without food and starved in the cold.
Moral: Make hay while the sun shines.
14. Three Little Pigs
Three pigs were sent by their mother to construct their own houses. The first two pigs did not put much effort and made houses of straw and sticks. The third pig worked hard and made a house with bricks. When a wolf attacked the village, the houses of the first two pigs easily fell to the wolf’s attack, but the third pig’s house stood strong and he gave shelter to his brothers too.
Moral: Hard work pays off.
15. Equal Division
Two mice ask a cat to help them divide a piece of chocolate between them equally. The cat divides it, but she deliberately cuts one piece bigger than the other. To make the two pieces equal, she takes a bite of the bigger piece and continues doing this until she has eaten all of the chocolate leaving nothing for the poor mice.
Moral: Be careful of who you trust.
16. The Peacock’s Colour
All the birds line up in increasing order of height to get themselves colored. The tall peacock has to stand last, and only a few quantities of all colors remain by the end. He feels sad, but once he is colored, he becomes the prettiest bird with a beautiful combination of all the colors.
Moral: Don’t lose heart, because everything happens for a reason.
17. The Foolish Thief
Once a robbery takes place in Akbar’s Kingdom and all the suspects are called to court. To find out who the thief is, Birbal gives a stick to each one of them and declares that the thief’s stick will grow by two inches in the morning. The next day he notices a suspect’s stick two inches shorter than the others and recognizes the thief from the group.
Moral: A thief cannot have a clear conscience.
18. The Milkmaid
Once a milkmaid milks her cow and fills two pails of milk with it. She carries these pails on a stick and goes to look the market. On the way, she is very happy and daydreams about what she will do with the money she will get from selling the milk. She begins to skip and hop and forgets about the pails, which fall and all milk spills from them.
Moral: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch!
19. The Two Frogs
Two frogs accidentally fall into a pit. The other frogs discourage them by telling them they are going to die. The first frog loses hope, while the second one leaps out with a huge jump. This is because the second frog was deaf and couldn’t hear the discouragements.
Moral: People's opinions can affect you only if you let them.
20. The Elephant Circus
A circus visitor observes elephants tied by a weak rope and asks the ringmaster why they don’t escape. The ringmaster says that they were made to believe that they were not strong enough from a young age, so they still believe that they cannot escape.
Moral: Don’t give in to the limitations set by people
We hope you liked our list of children’s short stories in English. These make bedtime more exciting and also teach great life skills to kids. You can light lamps at night in your room to ensure a cosy environment while reading the stories. Also, ensure you dress up your little kiddos in comfortable night suits to help them get a restful sleep.