Aesop's Fables


Aesop’s Fables are short and entertaining, and each one has a good message. It is no surprise that they have withstood the test of time. Aesop’s Fables would be great for ESL reading if the wording were not so highly poetic. If you are new to English, the poetic language can overwhelm you. If you already know English, the poetic language can make you sick. Here are some fables, rewritten and simplified for ESL students.

Contents:

1. The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
2. The Lion and the Mouse
3. The Lion’s Share
4. The Hare and the Tortoise
5. The Ant and the Grasshopper
6. The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf
7. The Dog and the Wolf
8. The Kid and the Wolf
9. The Man Who Loved Gold
10. The Goose with the Golden Eggs
11. The Fox and the Grapes
12. The Crow and the Pitcher
13. The Ant and the Cocoon
14. The Bat, the Birds and the Beasts

1. The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

A wolf had a hard time getting sheep to eat because the shepherd and his dog were always watching the sheep carefully. One day the wolf found the skin of a sheep. He put it on and walked right up to the sheep. For a long time, he was able to make friends with sheep and lead them away. Then wolf would take off his disguise and laugh and say, “Appearances are deceptive!” Then he would eat the sheep.

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2. The Lion and the Mouse

A lion was taking a nap. A mouse came and started to play. The mouse ran up and down on the lions back. Soon the lion woke up. The lion caught the mouse and held him down with his large paw. “Pardon me,” cried the little mouse. “If you let me go, I will never forget your kindness, and perhaps I can help you someday!” The lion laughed, and he decided to let the little mouse go. But later the lion was caught in a trap, and the hunter tied the lion to a tree with a strong rope. The mouse came and nibbled the rope and set the lion free. The lion said, “Little friends might turn out to be great friends.”

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3. The Lion’s Share


A lion went hunting with a fox, a jackal and a wolf. They caught a deer and killed it, but then they began to argue about how they should divide the meat. The lion stood up and said “I will divide the meat equally”. He cut the deer into four pieces. Then he said, “The first part is for me because I helped kill the deer. The second part is for me because I helped decide how to divide the meat. The third part is for me because I am the king of the beasts. The fourth part is for me because both of you are afraid of me and you are afraid to take it from me.” The fox grumbled, “You may share the work of great people, but you will not share any of the credit.”

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4. The Hare and the Tortoise

One day the hare was bragging about how fast he could run. “I have never yet been beaten,” he said. “I challenge any one here to race with me.” The tortoise said quietly, “I accept your challenge.” “That is a good joke,” said the hare; “I could dance around you all the way.” “Do not brag until later,” answered the tortoise. “Shall we race?” So the race began. The hare ran very fast and very far, but then he stopped and lay down to take a nap. The tortoise kept going, and when the hare woke up from his nap, he saw the tortoise was almost ready to cross the finish line. He could not get there in time to win the race. Then the tortoise said, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

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5. The Ant and the Grasshopper

A grasshopper was jumping around dancing and singing. He was very happy. An ant walked by carrying a big ear of corn. He was working very hard gathering food for the winter. The grasshopper asked, “Why are you working so hard? Why don’t you come over and sit and chat?” “Winter is coming and there won’t be any food to eat,” said the ant. “I think you should gather some food too.” “Why worry about winter?” said the grasshopper. “There is plenty of food today.” But the ant kept working. When winter came, the grasshopper was hungry, while the ant had plenty of food. The ant said, “It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.”

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6. The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf


A shepherd boy was watching a flock of sheep near a village. He was bored, so he cried out “Wolf! Wolf! A wolf is attacking the sheep!” The villagers came running to help. The boy thought it was a lot of fun, and he laughed at the villagers. Then he did it again. He cried, “Wolf! Wolf! A wolf is attacking the sheep!” And the villagers came running again. He laughed and laughed. The villagers were very annoyed. After they went away, a wolf really did come out to attack the sheep. The boy cried, “Wolf! Wolf! A wolf is attacking the sheep!” But none of the villages came. So the wolf ate every last sheep. Later, the villagers said, “You cannot believe a liar, even when he tells the truth.”

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7. The Dog and the Wolf

A hungry wolf was almost dead from hunger. A pet dog saw him and said, “My cousin, I knew your wild lifestyle would ruin you. Why don’t you get a steady job like mine? Come with me and I will get you a job with my master.” The wolf agreed and they started to go into town. On the way, the wolf noticed that the hair around the dog’s neck was worn away. The wolf asked the dog to tell him why there was no hair on his neck. The dog said, “Oh, it is nothing. That is where the collar rubs my neck when the master chains me up at night. Soon you will get used to it.” “Is that all?” said the wolf. “Then good-bye to you, Mister Dog! It is better to be hungry and free than to be a fat slave!”

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8. The Kid and the Wolf

A young goat was running from a wolf. He realized he could not get away, so he stopped and said, “I think you want to catch me and eat me. So before you eat me, can I have one last request? Will you sing me a song so I can laugh and dance one last time?” The wolf said, “I am not a very good singer.” But the kid began to cry and begged, “Please, Mister Wolf? Oh please! Oh please!” He asked him again and again until the wolf finally agreed. The wolf began to sing a happy song while the kid laughed and danced. Soon some dogs heard the wolf singing, and they came and chased the wolf away. The wolf growled at the kid, “I deserve this for changing what I am just to please you!” The kid laughed and said to him, “In times of danger, clever thinking is important to outwit your enemy!”

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9. The Man Who Loved Gold

A miser sold everything he had and bought a lump of pure gold. Then he dug a hole and buried it. He went back every day to check on it. He would dig it up, look at it, and the cover it up again. One day a robber saw him, and when the man went away, the robber dug up the gold and stole it. The next day, the miser discovered that his gold had been stolen. He cried and screamed and tore his hair out. A neighbour heard him and tried to make him feel better. The neighbour said, “Just fill up the hole and pretend the gold is still there. You did not really use the gold to buy anything, so it is just as useful to you now as it was when you had it before.”

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10. The Goose with the Golden Eggs

One day a farmer saw that there was a strange egg in the nest of his goose. He looked closer and saw that it was made of pure gold. Every day, the goose laid another gold egg, and the farmer became very rich by selling the eggs. But one day, the farmer became greedy and decided to get all the gold at once by killing the goose. He killed the goose and cut it open, but there were no golden eggs inside. The man's wife said, “Greed often reaches too far.”

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11. The Fox and the Grapes

One summer day, a fox was walking through a vineyard. Suddenly, he saw some grapes hanging down from a vine. “I want those grapes,” the fox thought. “I am thirsty, and those grapes will quench my thirst.” He took a few steps backwards and ran and jumped at the grapes. He tried again and again, but he could not get the grapes. At last he gave up. He walked away with his nose in the air, saying, “I am sure they are sour anyway.” But his friends were watching, and they said, “It is easy to despise what you cannot get.”

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12. The Crow and the Pitcher

A crow was dying from thirst. He saw a tall pitcher and he flew over to it because he hoped to find water. But there was so little water in it that he could not reach the water with his beak. Then he began to collect stones and put them in one at a time until the water level came up to where he could reach it with his beak. Then he enjoyed the water and saved his own life. He said, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and “Little by little does the trick.”

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13. The Ant and the Cocoon

An ant was running around looking everywhere for food. He found a cocoon that was almost ready to change. The cocoon moved a little and the ant stopped to talk. “Oh, you poor creature,” the ant said. “I can run around and go wherever I want, and I can climb the highest tree, but you are trapped in that cocoon.” The creature inside heard the ant, but did not say anything. After a few days, the ant passed by again, but the cocoon was gone. The ant looked up and saw a pair of beautiful wings. “Look at me now, you poor creature!” the butterfly said. The butterfly rose up into the air and disappeared. The ant never saw him again. The ant said, “Appearances are deceptive!”

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14. The Bat, the Birds and the Beasts


There was a war between the birds and the beasts. When the two armies came to fight, the bat refused to take sides. The birds came to him and said, “Join us!” But the bat said, “I am more like a beast!” Then the beasts came to him and said, “Join us!” But the bat said, “I am more like a bird!” At the last minute, the birds and the beasts made peace and they stopped the war. The bat went to celebrate with the birds, but they were angry with him and made him go away. Then he went to celebrate with the beasts, but they were also angry and made him go away. They said, “If you do not define yourself, you will have no friends at all.”

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