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The Tortoise and the Hare

Published February 15, 2008
Countries: None
Age Levels: 4-5 and up

Once upon a time a long eared animal called a hare bragged how he could run faster than anyone.  Instead of bragging to the larger animals like the deer who was very fast, he bragged to the slow moving Tortoise and other small animals.  Hare teased Tortoise.  "You are so SLOW!"

Tortoise was slow to anger.  But, one day, he had enough.  "Who do you think you are?  I admit that you are fast.  Still, even you can be beaten." 

Hare squealed with laughter.  "Beaten in a race?  I don't think so.  Who can beat me?  You?  I don't think anyone in the world can beat me.  Why don't you try to race me?  I dare you!"

Tortoise was tired of hearing Hare brag.  "Someone should beat him just to make him be quiet.  If no one else will, then I will race him."  This is how Tortoise accepted the challenge to race the Hare.

The two planned the race course, the path they would both run.  The next day they stood at the starting line.  At the end of the path was a post marking the finish line.  Animals stood watching.  They knew Hare would win.  Still, they cheered for Tortoise.  Hare had run around the night before telling all the animals how badly he was going to beat the Tortoise.  He had worn himself out.  He yawned as the starter said, "GO!"

The race began.  Tortoise began moving step by steady step towards the finish line.  Hare knew he would beat the Tortoise and took his time.  He yawned.  He stretched.  Then he scratched.  Then he finally began to run.

Tortise found it hard to move fast.  His legs hurt if he stretched them out very far.  He moved step by step towards the finish line.  Hare caught up to the Tortoise and teased him some more.  "You are so slow that I have time to eat a good breakfast before I start running very far." And, that is what he did.  Hare ran down a path to a farmer's field.  He ate a cabage and some carrots and got a good drink of water.  Then he began to run.

Tortoise did not stop.  Tortoise did not eat breakfast.  Tortoise kept moving, step by step towards the finish line.

Hare caught up to the Tortoise in minutes.  He knew he would beat the Tortoise, so he said.  Let's make this a fairer race.  I will lie down and take a nap and still beat you to the finish line.  Ooh, I am fast!

Tortoise did not stop.  Tortoise did not take a nap.  Tortoise kept moving, step by step.

Hare woke up and shook his head.  The race... He needed to get running again.  He again caught the Tortoise in a very short while.  His eyes saw more cabbages in a field next to the path.  He had eaten a good breakfast.  Why not take a break for lunch.  Hare stopped one more time and filled his belly with vegetables from the farmer's garden.

Tortoise did not have lunch.  Tortoise did not stop.  Tortoise kept moving, step by step towards the finish line.

The meal and the hot sun made Hare tired.  He laid down in the shade of a tree and took another nap while Tortoise kept moving, step by step.

Tortoise moved all day.  As Tortoise moved step by step, Hare dreamed of the way he would tease Tortoise after he beat him.  In his dream Hare was almost at the post that marked the finish line.  That is when he woke up.  He saw Tortoise who had been walking all day, one step after another, step by step.  Tortoise was way ahead and nearing that post.

Hare began running.  He was fast.  As he ran by, the breeze he created pulled fallen leaves behind him. He was getting closer to Tortoise, but Tortoise was almost at the post. Hare breathed hard and ran faster.  His muscles ached because he ran so fast.  Hare was getting closer to the finish line.

Then... one of Tortoise's feet crossed the finish line.  Hare leaped for the line, but the rest of Tortoise's body crossed the line before Hare could make it across.  Poor Hare!  He was beaten.  He had let himself get beaten because he had been overconfident.

Hare thought that Tortoise would tease him.  But, Tortoise did not.  Tortoise just said, "Slow and easy wins the race.  Just keep moving - step by step."

Dr. Mike Lockett is an educator, storyteller and children's author from Normal, IL. Dr. Lockett has given more than 4000 programs across the USA and as far away as eastern Asia. Contact Mike by writing to in order to book him for a storytelling program or young authors program or to inquire about purchasing his books and CDs. More stories and information about storytelling can be found at