Booklists Stories for Children

10 Panchatantra stories you MUST read to your 4-6 year olds

Elephant and rabbit (Hare)
Written by Tell A Tale

The Panchatantra collection of short stories was written in Sanskrit by Indian scholar and author, Vishnu Sharma, between 1200 CE – 300 CE. Some scholars also believe that it was written in around 3 CE. Panchatantra stories are one of the most widely translated books in the history and are known for their wisdom on practical life. The stories themselves are delightfully narrated, with animals and birds often being the central characters. Thus they provide valuable life lessons in a light-hearted manner. While some of the stories may not be appropriate for children in this age group, most of them appeal to early stage learners, due to the colorful characters.

Here we list 10 of the most famous stories from the Panchatantra for kids:

1. The Monkey and the Crocodile

monkey and the crocodile panchatantra

The most popular and most widely narrated of the Panchatantra stories. The monkey and crocodile become friends, but the crocodile’s wicked wife has other intentions. She wants to eat the monkey’s heart! Read the complete story here.

Moral of the story: Choose your friends wisely.

Kids love the monkey who saves his skin from a deceitful friend through quick thinking. The story teaches kids the importance of choosing the right friends and also possessing presence of mind. Both of these are valuable lessons for your toddlers as they set out to meet their first friends at school.

2. The Stork and the Crab

the stork and the crab panchatantra

An old stork finds an easier way of hunting fishes. He promises them that he will take them safely to a bigger lake, with lots of water; but instead carries them to a rock where he kills and eats them. However, he soon meets his match in the form of the crab. How? Read it here.

Moral of the story: A sharp mind is the greatest strength.

Another story that teaches the importance of choosing the right friends and also the importance of the presence of mind. Kids will love the crab that turns a hero for all the fish in the tank by killing the bad stork.

3. The Loyal Mongoose

“Think before you act” ! Once a loyal mongoose is left to guard his master’s sleeping infant. When the mongoose sees a snake coming to bite the infant, he attacks and kills the viper. The farmer’s wife, who has not seen the snake and mongoose fight, sees the blood on the mongoose’s mouth on returning home and expects the worst. She kills the mongoose in a fit of anger, only to realize her mistake later. [Complete Story]

Moral of the story: Think before you act.

The message is conveyed in a brutal yet effective manner. Although kids rarely think before they act, it never harms to start teaching them this habit early.

4. The Brahmin’s Dream

Building castles in the air never gets you anywhere. Once a poor Brahmin (pious man) is gifted a pot of flour. He returns home and daydreams about all that he will achieve with a pot of flour. Only to wake up in the end, and find himself surrounded by broken pieces of the earthen pot and covered in flour !

Moral of the story: Do not build castles in the air. They will fall.

The story is full of actions and sounds; enact it to your kids and they will love it. On a serious note, it will remind kids that hard work is more important than day-dreaming.

  • Buy the Complete collection of 365 Panchatantra short stories in English from Amazon (IN) and Amazon.com.
5. Union is Strength

Long ago, there lived a flock of pigeons in a dense forest. One day all the pigeons were caught in a hunter’s net. How did they get out? By being united of course. Flap, flap your wings and fly away! Read the complete story here.

Moral of the story: Unity is strength.

This story is as much for adults as for kids, serving as a reminder that the greatest obstacles can be overcome by staying united. Kids at this age have their first encounter with the outside world. You can stress how important it is to stay together and not discriminate.

6. The Cat’s Judgement

A partridge and a rabbit get into an argument. They decide to find a third person to settle their argument and come across a praying cat…Read this story to find out what happened next (Hint: It’s not so difficult to guess!)

Moral of the story: Never trust a stranger, even though he may seem very friendly.

7. The Guest

Once a family of bed-bugs, living in the palace, reluctantly invite a guest mosquito to feast on the King’s blood as he sleeps. They warn him not to bite the King anywhere but on his feet, so as to not get them caught. However, they grossly misjudge the mosquito’s trustworthiness, and pay a dear price for it. Read the complete story here.

Moral of the story: Never trust strangers.

8. The Elephants and the Mice

A herd of elephants looking for water pass through a deserted city, populated only by mice. The mice, afraid of being trampled by the large herd, request the elephants to take a different path, a request their leader graciously agrees. Years later, the mice hear of the elephants that the King’s hunters have captured for his army, and rush to help them. They gnaw at the ropes tying the elephants and set them free.

Tell your child the importance of standing up for your friends just as the mice stood by their friends, the elephants, and saved them from the King’s hunters.

Moral of the story: A friend in need is a friend indeed.

9. The Mice that Ate Iron

A merchant leaves an iron chest in the care of his friend, while he travels to a neighboring village. On returning, the friend (who is very greedy) tells the merchant that the mice ate up his iron chest. How does the merchant get his revenge? Read this story to know.

While the story is a bit serious for toddlers, it’s ideal for kids aged 6-9.

Moral of the story: What goes round, comes round. A lie never goes undetected.

10. The Tortoise and the Geese 

Three friends – two geese and a tortoise, decide to migrate to a new place in search of food and fresh water. The geese can fly, but the tortoise can’t. So the three devise a way of carrying the tortoise between the geese as they fly. What happens as they fly? Does the tortoise reach safely? Read this story to know.

Moral of the story: Think before you act.

Did you like this post? Here are 4 more stories from Indian folklore that your 4-6 year old will love to listen to over and over again.

Buy the Complete collection of 365 Panchatantra short stories in English from Amazon (IN) and Amazon.com.

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