Short Stories for Children: 2, 3, 4, and 5 Year Olds

Here are some stories for children of various ages.

If you want to save time and keep things really simple, there are some excellent books available. These ones have stories and nursery rhymes, with illustrations:

For a collection with lots of variety, try 365 Bedtime Stories and RhymesThere’s sure to be something here kids will love.

Free Stories for Kids Online

“The Emperor’s New Clothes (Suit)”

An emperor loves nice clothes and spends all his money on them. He ignores his real duties. Two men say they know how to weave the most beautiful cloth that can only be seen by people who are smart and good at their jobs. The emperor pays them a huge sum of money to make him some clothes.

This story can be read in the preview of The Complete Stories and Fairytales.

“King Midas’ Golden Touch”

Midas is the richest king in the world. He loves gold more than anything, even his daughter, Marigold. One day, Midas is visited by a fairy who grants him a golden touch, but it comes with a warning.

Read “King Midas”

“Little Red Hen”

A little hen finds a grain of wheat. No one will help her plant it. When time comes to cut and thresh it, again no one helps. This trend continues.

Read “Little Red Hen”

“The Tortoise and the Hare”

A Hare likes to brag about how fast he is. He especially likes teasing the Tortoise for being so slow. The Tortoise challenges the Hare to a race, claiming he would win.

Read “The Tortoise and the Hare”

“The Boy Who Cried Wolf”

A boy who watches the sheep amuses himself by playing a trick on the villagers.

Read “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”

“Jack and the Beanstalk”

Jack and his mother are very poor. He takes their only cow to the market to sell. On his way, he meets the butcher, who makes him an unusual offer. He will trade five special beans for the cow.

Read “Jack and the Beanstalk”

The following 3 stories can be read here at the noted page.

“The Miller, His Son, and the Donkey”

The miller and his son take their donkey to a fair to sell it. Along the way, they meet people who think they aren’t doing a very good job of it. (PDF Pg. 2)

“Harry and the Haystack”

Harry goes out to play with John. His mother reminds him to stay away from the haystack: it’s dangerous. After playing their usual games, the boys get bored. They turn their attention to the haystack. (PDF Pg. 3)

“Icarus and Daedalus”

King Minos imprisons Daedalus and his son, Icarus, in a tower. All ships leaving the island will be searched in case they escape. Daedalus, a clever inventor, fashions wings for his son. He learns how to use them. (PDF Pg. 5)

“Cat and Mouse in Partnership” by the Brothers Grimm

A cat convinces a mouse they should help each other and live together. They decide to buy a pot of fat and keep it for when they run out of food. The cat suggests hiding it at the church, where no one will steal it. Soon after, the cat makes an excuse to go to the church.

This story is on the darker side.

Read “Cat and Mouse”

“The Ants and the Grasshopper”

In the fall, a family of ants retrieves some of the grain they had stored for the winter. A hungry grasshopper approaches looking for some food.

Read “The Ants and the Grasshopper”

“The Bundle of Sticks”

A father wants to teach his children not to argue all the time. He thinks of a way to illustrate the point. He asks them to bring him a bundle of sticks.

Read “The Bundle of Sticks”

“The Lion and the Mouse”

A lion captures a mouse. The mouse begs to be spared, saying it will repay the lion one day. The lion finds this funny.

Read “The Lion and the Mouse”

“The Three Little Pigs”

Three pigs grow up and leave home. They each build their own house. The first pig is visited by a wolf.

Read “The Three Little Pigs”

“Little Red Riding Hood” by Charles Perrault

A girl’s mother sends her to visit her grandmother, who’s sick. She has to walk through the woods to another village. Along the way, she meets a wolf who’s interested in what she’s doing.

Read “Little Red Riding Hood”