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Storytime lessons
'Little Red Hen' has a message worth repeating
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The scent of fresh-baked bread is sure to draw people to the kitchen. In the classic story, “The Little Red Hen,” it also brings all of the lazy farm animals, who are more than willing to help the hen eat what comes out of the oven.

But, as the well-known fable unfolds, the hen has asked for help at every step of the process, from planting seeds to tending the garden and then harvesting the wheat. She took the wheat to the mill so it could be made into flour and mixed that flour with other ingredients to make a loaf of bread. As each step of the way, the little red hen asked the other animals who would help her, and one by one they said, “Not I.” 

There were always excuses. The others were too busy or too tired or thought they were just too important to pitch in. The only time she had volunteers was when she asked who would help her eat the bread. Everyone was willing, but the hen’s question was rhetorical; she planned to enjoy the fruits of her labor all by herself.

November is the month for the Great Bend Reading Initiative and little children throughout the city will get to read “The Little Red Hen” with their families and hear the age-old story. November is also Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Month, and small children are getting to hear someone read the book, “I Like Myself.” This book by Karen Beaumont is a rhyming ode to self-esteem that encourages kids to appreciate everything about themselves:

Inside, outside, upside down,

from head to toe and all around,

I like it all! It all is me!

And me is all I want to be.

It only takes a few minutes to tell a story or read a book to a child, but it can be time well spent. There are lessons worth learning, naturally, but the best reason to read to young children is that it stimulates their imagination and helps them develop language skills — including listening and enjoying the written word. So, if a preschooler asks you, “Who will read this book to me?” the best answer is always, “I will!”