Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Aarnav. Aarnav Wonders, “Do fables have to start with "once upon a time"?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Aarnav!

Once upon a time . . . Some of the best stories begin that way! Kids everywhere love hearing those four magical words at bedtime. It means they’re in for a great story. Many times, those stories are age-old fables.

What is a fable? It’s a short, fictional (made-up) story. It usually features animals, although fables can also include mythical creatures, inanimate objects, or forces of nature, too.

In a fable, these characters are given human characteristics. This is called anthropomorphization. Finally, fables tell a simple story in a way that teaches a moral lesson, which is usually summed up at the end with an easy-to-remember phrase.

Fables are one of the most long-standing forms of folk tales. They have been spread from country to country throughout time, mainly through oral storytelling. Almost every culture in the world has its own unique fables.

One of the most famous fable writers of all time was the legendary Aesop. Aesop is believed to have been an enslaved person in ancient Greece. “Aesop’s Fables” contains many classic fables, including “The Tortoise and the Hare” and “The Lion and the Mouse.”

Let’s take a closer look at Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare”:

One day, a hare made fun of the short legs and slow pace of the tortoise.

The tortoise just laughed and said, “Even though you are as swift as the wind, I will beat you in a race.”

The hare thought the tortoise couldn’t be more wrong, so it agreed to the race. The tortoise and the hare asked the fox to choose the course and set the finish line.

On the day of the race, the two started together. The tortoise never stopped once. It simply walked with a slow but steady pace to the finish line. The hare, though, believed it would win easily. So it stopped to rest for a while and fell asleep.

When the hare finally woke up, it moved as fast as it could. However, it saw the tortoise had already reached the finish line and won the race. Slow but steady wins the race!

What lesson does this fable teach? Do you see how the last line—slow but steady wins the race—sums up the moral lesson of the fable? It means that if you keep working, you finally succeed in achieving your goal.

Can you think of any other fables? Do you have any favorite stories that might fit this category? Maybe you’ve even made up a fable or two on your own!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.6, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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