The Little Red Hen

There’s a folk tale called “The Little Red Hen” (Project Gutenberg link) and it generally goes step by step in the process of a little hen growing wheat, harvesting it, making flour, and baking bread.  At each stage she asks other animals for help and they are always too busy or not interested, I can’t remember which.  Finally it comes time to eat the fruits (well, bread) of her labor.  The other creatures are keen on taking part only to be told that our protagonist is not going to share her bread because no one helped her at each stage of preparation.

I told my son the story last night – he was keen on baking sugar pumpkins so I asked for his help taking out the seeds and pulp from inside.  The “pumpkin guts” weren’t appealing and my story ensued.  He, by then helping me scrape out the pumpkins, frowned and asked, “can you tell me a happy story about the little red hen where she shares with her friends?”

Baked Sugar Pumpkins
Photo: Our baked pumpkins

Anyway, I’m not going anywhere in particular with this, it just made me contemplative.

3 thoughts on “The Little Red Hen

  1. He’s a cutie, and now I want sugar pumpkin 🙂

    I suspect “The Little Red Hen” was developed as a bit of a morality tale about working hard and doing your part. In some versions of the similarly-themed fable “The Ants and the Grasshopper”, the hard-working ants leave the plays-all-summer grasshopper to starve during the winter.

    In other versions, the ants take pity on him and invite him to spend winter with them, so they all eat together and he entertains them with his music. I wonder if there’s an alternate version of “The Little Red Hen” with a “happy” ending 🙂


    1. We’d bought a decorative one and he wanted to bake it, so back to the store we went for a baking pumpkin. He and E ate some of the baked pumpkin with a bit of cinnamon and sugar and we saved the rest for pie or bread down the line. Winter starvation is more grim than not getting some bread so I guess of the two, the Little Red Hen is better than the Ants and the Grasshopper for the four year old set. I guess we should just read Leo Lioni’s “Frederick” instead. 🙂


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