Bibliographic Information (best version for telling): Galdone, Paul. The Little Red Hen. Clarion Books, New York, 1973.

Ethnic Origin: English, Anglo-Saxon

Running Time: 6 minutes

Power Center(s):

Excitement about eating the cake, but being denied because never helping when asked. Watching the Little Red Hen eat the cake to the last crumb.

I selected this for two reasons. It is important for others to help when asked. However, it is important to be specific and ask someone for help, rather than look for volunteers from a group of nappers. 

Characters:  Cat, Dog, Mouse, and Little Red Hen (LRH)


1. Introduce LRH and napping housemates

2. LRH finds wheat seeds while working in garden

3. Little Red Hen asks for, but is denied help with four pre-flour steps and request to make a cake from flour

4. Cat, Dog, and Mouse smell aroma of baking cake and LRH asks “Who will help me eat this cake?”

5. LRH reminds them of all she did by herself, sets them up to watch her eat cake “to the last crumb”

6. Cat, Dog, and Mouse are eager helpers with household chores


Little Red Hen is denied assistance with household chores from housemates Cat, Dog, and Mouse. Her discovery of wheat seeds in the garden leads to cultivation of wheat, taking it to be processed, and baking a cake with the flour. Although she asks “who will help me,” before proceeding to the next step, no one volunteers. While cake is baking, the aroma entices Cat, Dog, and Mouse to leave their napping locations and answer “I will” to Little Red Hen’s request for help eating the cake. Watching her eat the cake to the last crumb teaches them to become eager helpers.

Rhymes/Special Phrases/"Flavor":

Repetition of the “Not I,” said by Cat, Dog, and Mouse; “Then I will,” by LRH.

Napping comfortably then awakening to wonderful smell of cake baking.

Audience (why is this story appropriate for the audience? developmental characteristics?):

This story is intended for children at approximately age 3. According to Erik Erikson, this is the transition from Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (birth to 3 years) and Initiative vs. Guilt (ages 3 to 6).

The storyline does not make the punishment extremely severe so it provides just a hint at guilt.

 Bibliographic information on other versions/variants (at least two)?

 Barton, Byron, The Little Red Hen. Harper Collins Publishers, New York. 1993.

Zemach, Margot, The Little Red Hen. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York. 1983.

Brief comparison of all versions/variants in terms of language, rhythm, "tellability," "flavor," content, etc. Stress the differences in style rather than those of content.

In Barton’s picture-book version, the Little Red Hen does not have the martyr personality developed in Galdone’s version. Characters are not engaged in napping and don’t seem as enticed by the cooking of bread as in Galdone’s version with the cake. It’s harder to think about how to describe the scenes when the pictures in Barton’s book are so basic felt-looking cutouts, almost abstract.

Zemach’s version included more text to support more realistic pictures. The “friends” of the Little Red Hen seemed to be more distracted from helping because of varying activities (as in not resting the whole time) – watching with hands in pockets, playing cards, general disinterest – and there was not the resolution/lesson as with Galdone’s version.

Both versions that I looked at and chose not to tell included the Little Red Hen’s chicks in the storyline, which might work for someone to tell who has parenting experience. I could not imagine doing all that work with three offspring at my heels. Also, I liked the Galdone version’s ending where Little Red Hen ate the cake “to the last crumb” to prove the point of why one should offer help.