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The Ugly Duckling Story – Inspiring Tale for Kids

As kids, we’ve spent a lot of our time trying to get our parents to read to us, and most times, we’ve been successful! Bedtime was the best time for parents to spend an extra hour just making sure we went to bed happy, full of stories we’d just heard. The Ugly Duckling was one such tale that made the list very early on, and what made it extra special was that there was a moral that one could learn from it. Now, it’s time to pass on this talk to our own kids, knowing that there’s so much they can learn from it, and use as they grow up.

Origin & History Of The Ugly Duckling

The ugly duckling story dates back to the 1880s, written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, a reputed author, famous for his poems and fairy tales. This playwriter and novelist introduced the phrase, ‘ugly duckling’. In simple words, it means that no one should judge the skills or capabilities of others by their physical appearance. A person can look very simple and ordinary but can be groomed into a beautiful individual. A person may be very quiet but knowledgeable.

Ugly Duckling – Bedtime Story For Kids In English

Close to a farm, there was a little pond where a mother duck was watching over the eggs she had laid. They cracked open, one egg at a time. She pampered all her newborn ducklings as they fussed around her. However, there was one large egg that was to be hatched. She had to wait for a long time before it finally cracked open. What emerged out of the egg was unlike her other duck babies. This one looked different. It was bigger and had dark grey feathers. “My big baby! You look so different but adorable.” She allowed him to mingle with the others, but they exclaimed, “you are so very different from us. Look at our soothing yellow feathers. You have dull, grey feathers. You are so ugly”. And together, they moved away from him. The mother realised his pain and told him not to worry, and it was typical of siblings. But the grey duck was hurt. The next day the mother took her little ducklings to introduce them to the other farm animals. The horse, pig, chickens, and the cows welcomed her and her little ones, but as soon as they saw the grey-coloured duck, they exclaimed, “Oh gosh! How can you be so different and ugly!”

This behaviour continued for many days and affected the grey duckling a lot. One night, when his mother and siblings were fast asleep, he crept out of the farm to avoid the insults. He wandered around the countryside and came across other ducks and animals but whoever set eyes on him insulted him and his looks. He came across a farm where the farmer and his wife kept him for a while, but the other animals were rude and made fun of him. The grey duck was disappointed and sad. He thought, “I guess it is time for me to move from here.” One morning, before the sun came up, he quietly slipped outside and moved in search of a place where he would be accepted. Tired and hungry, he finally came upon a spot where he heard very happy chatter! The fear of being ridiculed made him hide in the nearby bushes. From there, he was able to see the most beautiful white-coloured birds. They were simply stunning. Their long slender necks, delicate beaks and soft sounds made the ugly duckling want to go out and meet them. But he feared they would fly away. He admired them until they all flapped their wings and majestically rose into the air and disappeared.

Every day and night, he would move softly, searching for food and shelter, hoping no one would drive him away. But he did not come across a single friendly individual. He often thought about the beautiful white birds he had spotted once and wondered if he would see them again.

One fine day, as he was moving softly along a long stretch of a small stream, he was struck by what he saw. He found a few of those beautiful white birds perched on a few pebbles on the stream and staring at him. “Oh! They will hurt me”. He bent his head low and was surprised at the reflection staring at him. He was white! He looked beautiful. He couldn’t believe his eyes. Suddenly, he found himself surrounded by the beautiful swans. They told him, “You are so beautiful and strong. Why are you all alone. Come with us.”. He felt a renewed energy and realised his wings had grown strong. He smiled and moved happily with them. A little ahead was a garden with some of the village folk. They were feeding birds with cakes and other goodies. “Oh look! There’s a new member in that family of pretty swans.” The now pretty swan was so happy to hear the words, ‘a new member in the family.’ After having their fill, the swans took him with them, and they rose together, making everyone admire their grace and beauty.

Ugly Duckling

Summary Of The Ugly Duckling Story

A family of newborn ducklings are unwilling to accept one of their other siblings who looked bigger than them and was grey instead of yellow, like them. Hurt by the insulting remarks of everyone; the ugly duckling leaves home to find his place in the world. However, wherever he sets foot, he is insulted and rejected. Time passes, and he has grown into a beautiful white bird but is unaware of it. He comes across several beautiful swans who welcome him with open arms one fine day.

Moral Of The Story

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” – This phrase forms the essence of this beautiful short story. The moral of The Ugly Duckling story is to accept people for their qualities, their values, their friendship, and their humility. Do not judge others because of how they look. Appearances are misleading, and it is always better to accept a person for their many good qualities than accept them based on physical looks.

This endearing story helps cultivate good qualities in children at an early age. This tale is narrated by parents around the globe to their little children while tucking them into bed!

Shraddha Mishra
Writer, journalist and content creator, she has worked across several publications. She takes a keen interest in travel, food and culture. A new mother, she loves talking about her parenting journey and watching her toddler play, learn and grow. When not working, you will find her watching a movie or web series, or reading a novel, chasing a good story everywhere.


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