American Stories: Chicken Little
And now an American Children's Story from VOA Learning English.2 Today's story probably had its start long before it was published in Europe long ago.3 It might have first been known as "Henny Penny." But the story has been told to American children at least since the mid-1800s under a title similar to "Chicken Little."4 Generations have heard and thought about the lessons of the little chicken who causes big problems for a group of well-meaning but not-so-thoughtful birds.5 Today's version is based on two examples of the story. One is called Remarkable Story of Chicken Little. John Green Chandler had it published in the city of Boston, Massachusetts in 1842. Katharine Pyle published her 1918 version in Mother's Nursery Tales.6 The story has taken on its own American qualities and is a little like a parable, a story that teaches a moral lesson. Later retellings including a few movie versions have made changes to some of the characters or aimed to teach different ideas.7 Here is the story Chicken Little in VOA Learning English.8 One day, Chicken Little fell asleep under some flowers.9 Cow wandered by, reached over the fence and bit off some flowers.10 The noise wakened Chicken Little just as a flower petal fell on her tail.11 "Squawk! Squawk!" cried Chicken Little, frightened by the petal's landing.12 "The sky is falling," she continued, her call rising louder with her terror. "Squawk! Squawk!"13 And, she jumped up and began to run, moving as fast as her two legs would carry her. She did not stop running until she came to the barnyard. There, she found Henny Penny scratching in the dirt of the barnyard.14 "Oh, Henny Penny, do not scratch-run!" cried Chicken Little. "The sky is falling."15 The scratching stopped. Then Hen called out: "How do you know that, Chicken Little?"16 "I saw it with my eyes, I heard it with my ears, and part of it fell on my tail. Let us run, until we get some place."17 "Squawk! Squawk," cried Hen in return, a look of shock on her face. Then, run she did, speeding away from the barnyard.18 Chicken Little followed close behind.19 They almost ran right past the little lake, just as Ducky Lucky was going in for a swim.20 "Oh, Ducky Lucky! Ducky Lucky! Do not try to swim," cried Henny Penny. "The sky is falling."21 "Seriously, Henny Penny? Why do you think that?" asked Ducky Lucky.22 "Chicken Little told me."23 "How do you know the sky is falling, Chicken Little?"24 "I saw it with my eyes, I heard it with my ears, and part of it fell on my tail. Oh, let us run until we get some place."25 Ducky Lucky was persuaded.26 "Yes, we had better run," he yelled.27 And the three took off, Ducky Lucky waddling faster than he ever had before. The birds ran and ran until they came to a green meadow, and there was Goosey Loose eating the green grass.28 "Oh, Goosey Lucy, Goosey Lucy, do not eat; run," cried Ducky Lucky.29 "Why should I run?" asked Goosey Lucy.30 "Because the sky is falling."31 "How do you know that, Ducky Lucky?"32 "Henny Penny told me."33 "How do you know that, Henny Penny?"34 "Chicken Little told me."35 "How do you know that, Chicken Little?"36 "Because I saw it with my eyes, and heard it with my ears, and part of it fell on my tail. Oh, let us run some place."37 "Yes, we had better run," cried Goosey Lucy.38 Away they all ran, Goosey Lucy in the lead, and they ran and ran until they came to the turkey yard, and there was Turkey Lurkey strutting and gobbling.39 "Oh, Turkey Lurkey! Do not strut!" cried Goosey Lucy.40 "Why should I not strut?" asked Turkey Lurkey.41 "Because the sky is falling."42 "How do you know it is?"43 "Ducky Lucky told me!"44 "How do you know, Ducky Lucky?"45 "Henny Penny told me!"46 "How do you know, Henny Penny?"47 "Chicken Little told me!"48 "Chicken Little, how do you know this for a fact?"49 "I could not help knowing! I saw it with my eyes, I heard it with my ears, and a part of it fell on my tail. Oh, let us run until we get some place."50 "Yes, it would be best to run," said Turkey Lurkey, so away they all ran, first Turkey Lurkey, and then Goosey Lucy, and then Ducky Lucky, and then Henny Penny and then Chicken Little.51 They ran and ran until they came to Foxy Loxy's house.52 Foxy Loxy was resting, spread out across the doorway. She kept yawning, opening her mouth wide so that all her sharp teeth showed. But, her mouth snapped shut at the sudden arrival of the frightened birds, Turkey Lurkey and Goosey Lucy and Ducky Lucky and Henny Penny and Chicken Little.53 Her eyes softened and her ears stood up. She was so very happy to see them all and smiled sweetly.54 "Well, well," the fox said, "what brings you all here?"55 "Foxy Loxy, prevent yourself from yawning," cried old Turkey Lurkey, "Indeed, the sky is falling."56 "How do you know that, Turkey Lurkey?" asked the fox.57 "Goosey Lucy informed me."58 "How do you know that, Goosey Lucy?"59 "Ducky Lucky told me."60 "How do you know that, Ducky Lucky?"61 "Henny Penny told me."62 "How do you know that, Henny Penny?"63 "Chicken Little."64 "How do you know that, Chicken Little?"65 "I could not help knowing, for I saw it with my eyes, and I heard it with my ears, and part of it fell on my tail. Oh, where shall we run? We ought to go someplace."66 "Well," said the Fox, "you come right into my house, and I will protect you and take such good care of you that, even if the sky falls, you will not know anything about it."67 So, in ran Turkey Lurkey and Goosey Lucy and Ducky Lucky and Henny Penny and - Chicken Little.68 Foxy Loxy waited for a while and then shut the door firmly behind her. She would not let the falling sky threaten her guests, you see. She was going to take special care of them all.69 And, maybe she did. But no one ever saw Chicken Little or her friends again.70 Mario Ritter, Jr. adapted this story for VOA Learning English from stories in the public domain.71 _____________________________________________________________________72 Download a lesson plan with activities related to this story below.73 ____________________________________________________________________74 Words in This Story75 petal -n. a flat, soft colorful part of a flower76 waddle -v. to walk with short steps while moving from side to side like a duck77 meadow -n. a wide flat area covered with grass that is often surrounded by forest78 strut -v. to walk in a confident or proud way79 yawn -v. to open the mouth wide and take a deep breath usually as a reaction to being tired or bored80 curl -v. to form into a rounded shape81 We want to hear from you.82 We have a new comment system. 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