14 Inspirational & Motivational Short Stories for Kids

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Teaching children through storytelling gives them a unique look into new worlds. It offers a creative opportunity to learn new ideas–sometimes without even realizing it. Children can learn valuable life lessons through listening to an engaging story.

Stories don’t just help develop literacy for children–they can also teach values, attitudes, and social norms which help shape a child’s reality. Children may be inspired to behave, think, and act by the characters that they hear about in short stories.

The Importance of Inspirational Stories for Children

Stories help bring new information to life in meaningful ways that allow children to feel connected to the message. Inspirational stories can bring valuable lessons to life through a compelling narrative.

In this article, we will look at 14 inspirational and motivational short stories that are geared toward children. Let’s get started.

14 Inspirational & Motivational Short Stories for Kids

1. Nail On the Fence

The Story

Once there was a man who lived with his wife and young son. Despite their beautiful home, the man noticed as his son was growing up that he was developing a bad temper and would often get angry at his parents and other kids at school.  The boy’s words started hurting other people and his friends started to avoid him.

One morning, the man gave his son a bag of nails and a hammer and instructed him to hammer a nail into their wooden fence every time the boy lost his temper.

While this sounded odd to the boy, he followed the instructions. After the first day, he had already hammered 43 nails into the wooden fence. This was alarming to the boy and he decided to try to control his anger.

Over the next few weeks, the number of nails he was hammering into the fence slowly decreased because the boy discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive the nails into the fence.

Eventually one day, the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father the news, and his father responded by telling the boy that he should pull out a nail every day he keeps his temper under control.

Several weeks passed and the boy had removed all of the nails because he had changed his behavior.

His father took him to the wooden fence in the yard and said “You have done very well, but look at the holes in the fence–it will never be the same. When you say things in anger, it leaves a scar just like this one. No matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”

The Moral

People can say things out of anger that they later regret. The wounds that hurtful words create are like holes in the fence, which cannot be repaired, even with an apology.

If you're mindful of your words, you will become aware of your behavior and notice the triggers that make you angry. This can help you change your response to those stimulants.

Having good emotional health and positive communication skills will help improve your relationships and work to build new ones, which will improve your overall well being.

2. The Starfish Story

The Story

There was once an old man who went to the seaside every morning to write after walking along the beach. One morning, he stumbled upon a stretch of beach where thousands of starfish had washed up.

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“The Starfish Story” is a poignant tale that reminds us of the power of making a difference.

The old man noticed a little girl approaching in the distance. As she walked, she would stop every so often to bend down and pick up an object and throw it into the sea.

As she came closer, the man asked what she was doing. She paused, looked up, and replied, “Throwing starfish into the sea.”

The man asked her why, to which she replied, “The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t go back to the sea by themselves. When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The man noted, “But there are miles and miles of beach and there are thousands of starfish all along every mile, how will you make much of a difference?”

The girl bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she turned towards the old man, gave a smile and said, “I made a difference to that one!”

The Moral

This story is about how one step towards changing the world can make a big difference. Be the change for someone and inspire others to do the same.

We all have opportunities to create positive change. However, we often think we can’t do enough to make a big difference so we delay our actions or wait for someone else to initiate. We start procrastinating by thinking, “How much of a difference can I really make?” 

While you may not be able to change the whole world, you can make a big change for a small part of it.

3. Self Appraisal

The Story

One winter morning, a little boy came across a telephone booth. He found a carton nearby to climb on so he could reach the phone and make a call. A nearby observer curiously listened to the boy’s conversation.

The little boy spoke into the phone, “Madam, I am poor, can you give me the job of cutting in your grass?”

The woman on the other end of the phone line replied, “Sorry, I already have someone who cuts my lawn.”

The little boy offered to cut her lawn for half the price of what she is paying now.

The woman replied, “I’m already satisfied with the person who cuts my lawn. He is doing a good job.”

With perseverance, the little boy said, “Madam, I’ll even sweep your sidewalk, so you will have the prettiest lawn on the block.”

The woman declined.

When the call was over, the observer walked over to the boy and said, “Son… I like your attitude and your positive spirit and would like to offer you a job.”

The boy politely declined.

The man said, “But you were pleading for a job when you were talking to the lady on the phone.”

The little boy replied, “No Sir, I was just checking my performance at the job I already have. I am the one who is working for that lady I was talking to.”

The Moral

This inspiring story encourages seeking feedback to prepare oneself to work constructively on self-improvement. This feedback will help you take corrective action before trouble arises.

Getting feedback can also help boost your self-confidence. Doing a self-appraisal by looking inward can help you find your weaknesses so you can work hard to improve them. If you do a good job, you can become irreplaceable.

4. The Baby Camel and His Mother

The Story

Once there was a baby camel who lived with her mother. She asked her mom one day, “Why do camels have humps?”

The mother camel smiled and replied, “As desert animals, we need to store water so we can survive for long periods of time without drinking.” The baby camel thought for a moment and then asked, “Okay, why are our legs long and we have large, round, soft feet?”

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The baby camel's story teaches the importance of leveraging your natural strengths in your environment.

The mother replied, “Our long legs keep our bodies further away from the hot ground and our large soft feet prevent us from sinking into the sand. This way we can move around the desert better than anyone else can!”

The baby camel then asked, “Mom, why do we have long eyelashes?”

The mother camel responded, “Your long thick eyelashes protect your eyes from the desert sand when it blows in the wind.”

The baby replied, “I see. So the hump is to store water when we are in the desert, the legs are for walking through the desert and these eyelashes protect my eyes from the desert.”

The mom agreed.

Confused, the baby camel asked, “If God has given us so many talents to live in deserts, then why are we in the Zoo?”

This left the mother speechless.

The Moral

The story of the baby camel teaches the importance of living and working in an environment where you can best use your natural strengths. Your skills, knowledge, talents, abilities and experiences are only beneficial if you are in the right place where you can use them appropriately.

You cannot grow or excel in an environment that limits your potential. This story can help teach children the importance of finding their strengths and passions and using them in ways that are beneficial.

5. The Wealthy Father and Wise Son

Watch the Video of This Story:

The Story

A wealthy man once took his son on a trip to the country. The father’s sole purpose was to show his son how poor people live so the son could appreciate their good fortune.

On their journey, they reached a small village where they spent a couple of days and nights on a farm with a very poor family.

When they were going home, the father asked his son how his trip was.

The son replied with excitement, “It was a great trip!”

The father asked, “Did you notice how the poor people live? The purpose of the journey was to make you understand how fortunate we are with all of our wealth.”

“‘Yes!” said the son, smiling. The father asked, “So, tell me; what did you learn from the trip?”

The son answered, “Dad, I notice a lot of things about how they live. We have one dog and they have three. We have a swimming pool in our yard but they have a river that has no end. We have fancy lanterns in our garden but they have the stars at night. Our patio stops at our front yard, but they have the whole horizon.”

The father didn’t understand his son’s answers.

The son continued, “We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, but they have friends to protect them. We spend our free time with tvs and phones, but they spend their free time with family and friends.”

The son summed up his experience on his trip to the village by saying, “Thanks Dad, for showing me how poor we are!”

The Moral

While money can buy many things that offer comfort, it cannot buy the things that truly make you rich like love, kindness, compassion, friendships, values, or family.

It’s easy to forget what you have in life and concentrate on what you don’t have. Sometimes it takes the perspective of a child to remind us what’s important in life.

6. A Group of Frogs

The Story

A group of frogs was traveling through a forest looking for a pond. While on their journey, two frogs fall into a deep hole. As they are trying to escape, the other frogs gather around and proclaim how impossible it will be to escape.

The two frogs pay no attention to the other frogs and keep trying to jump out of the hole. Eventually, one of the frogs gives up, but the other keeps jumping as hard as it can.

After a big struggle, the frog makes it out of the hole alive. Surprised, the other frogs asked how it managed to make it out of the hole even though they were telling him to give up. The frog explained that it is deaf and he had just assumed that everyone was cheering him on.

The Moral

People’s words can make a big impact on our attitude and behavior. It is important to ignore naysayers in life and focus on the positive support you have around you.

7. The Egg, Potato, and Coffee Bean

The Story

One day, a little boy named James was crying to his father about all of his problems in life. James’s father patiently listened and then brought over a bowl with a potato, an egg, and some coffee beans in it.

He asked James to touch and feel the ingredients in the bowl, and talk about what they felt like. James described how each ingredient felt.

His father then smiled and asked James to put them all in different bowls and pour water on them. His father then let each bowl boil for a few minutes. Once cooled, James’s father asked him to touch the ingredients once again and feel the egg, potato, and coffee beans.

James described them differently this time. He said the potato’s skin was easy to peel, the egg had hardened, and there was a fresh coffee smell coming from the beans. Listening to James, his father smiled and told him how the potato, egg, and coffee beans each reacted to an adverse situation differently.

The potato became soft, the egg turned strong, and the coffee beans changed their form completely during their time in the boiling water.

The Moral

We will all face adversity and problems in life. What is important is how we react to those problems and how we let them change us. It is important to be strong during tough times and to learn to be resilient in the face of adversity.

8. A Butterfly’s Struggle

The Story

One day, a man sees a butterfly trying to emerge from its cocoon. As he watches the butterfly struggle to get out, he decides to help the butterfly by using scissors to cut the cocoon until it’s completely open.

The butterfly is then able to easily escape; however, it came out with a swollen body and undeveloped wings. The man watched as the butterfly struggled to fly or even just crawl around.

While he had tried to do a good deed for the butterfly, he realized he ended up hurting its chances of living a healthy life.

The Moral

Some struggles are important to go through in life because they shape us into strong people.

Nature designed the butterfly’s body to go through a struggle before it can fly.

9. How to Hunt a Monkey

The Story

One day, a man told his child, “Did you know that hunters used to trap monkeys by putting a heavy glass jar with a narrow neck on the floor with the monkeys’ favorite food inside?”

He went on to explain that the hunters would then step back and hide, waiting for an unsuspecting monkey to approach.

When it did, the monkey would reach inside, grab the food, and try to pull it out. However, the narrow neck of the jar would stop the poor monkey from getting its hand out!

No matter how hard the monkey pulled, there was no way to get its hand out of the jar without letting go of the food. However, the monkey would always refuse to let go and it would continue to persevere.

The hunters would then approach and catch the monkey.

The man went on to explain, “Don’t be like that monkey. In life, you must pick your battles and know when to quit, when to move on, and when to let go of whatever’s holding you back.”

The Moral

Sometimes in life you have to decide to let go and give up what you have now to gain something better in the future. Don’t let stubbornness be your downfall.

10. The Value of Money

The Story

On the first day of school, a teacher holds up a $100 bill and asks his class who wants it.

Everyone raised their hand excitedly at the prospect of receiving the money. The teacher then says, “I will give this money to someone here, but first, let me do this…”

He takes the bill and crumples it up in his hands, and then asks, “Who still wants it?”

The students’ hands stay up.

The teacher then drops the bill on the floor, steps on it, and grinds it into the ground. He picks it back up. “Does anyone want it now?” he asks again.

The hands stay up.

“Class, It didn’t matter what I did to this $100 bill, you still wanted it because its value stayed the same. Even with its creases and dirtiness, it’s still worth $100.”

He continued to explain, “There will be similar times in your life when you’re dropped, crushed, and worn down. But no matter what happens, you never lose your value.”

The Moral

Life’s hardships are inevitable and we’ll all be put through the ringer at some point, often through no fault of our own.

Don’t let these challenges alter your feelings of self-worth. You’ll always have something unique and special to give and offer the world.

11. The Two Wolves

Watch the Video of This Story:

The Story

An old Indian chief sat down to teach his grandson about life.

“There’s a fight going on inside me,” he tells the boy, “a fight between two wolves.”

“One wolf is evil. It’s full of spite, hatred, cruelty, self-pity, and false pride. The other is good. It’s full of unity, love, joy, harmony, and humility.”

The grandson pondered this for a moment before asking, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”

The old man smiled and replied, “The one you feed.”

The Moral

Good and evil exist within each of us. But it is our responsibility to do what we can to nurture the good. You can always be more positive in life and at work, which will replace any negativity and make your life more joyful.

12. Big Dreams

The Story

Mary is a shy little girl who enjoys playing soccer. Her friends and classmates make fun of Mary for her love of soccer, but she is determined to pursue her passion and become a successful soccer player.

Every day after school, Mary finishes her homework and then practices soccer. Her mom supports her because she understands Mary’s love for the sport.

When Mary tries out for the soccer team at school, her classmates mock her again. But they are shocked when Mary performs well and the judges select her to be the captain of the team.

Mary never heard another negative comment from a classmate, because her commitment and hard work paid off.

The Moral

Determination, commitment, strong will, and focus can help you achieve your biggest goals, even if other people don’t have faith in you. Focus is a very powerful thing to maintain and it is worth it to try to increase your focus.

13. The Elephant Rope

Watch the Video of This Story:

The Story

A man was passing through an elephant camp when he noticed the elephants weren’t in cages or being held by chains. In fact, the only thing preventing the elephants from escaping the camp was a small piece of rope tied to one of their legs.

It was clear that the elephants could break away at any time– but for some reason, they stayed put.

The man was confused why the elephants didn’t just use their strength to break the light rope and escape the camp. How were these huge creatures being held by just a small rope tied to their leg?

The man came across a trainer and asked,  “Why do these magnificent animals just stand there without attempting to get away?”

The trainer smiled and replied, “Well, when they are young, we use the same size rope to tie them. As babies,  this rope is enough to hold them. They grow up being conditioned to believe they cannot break away. As adults, they believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

The elephants could break free at any time, but because they believed they were stuck, they remained right where they were.

The Moral

The story of the elephants is metaphoric for how your beliefs impact your behaviors. How often do you hold onto a false belief that you cannot do something because you failed at it once before?

Over time, you may begin to believe that you’re not capable of doing a particular task, even if you haven’t tried again. Accepting your initial failure as the ultimate truth can put strong and confining limitations on your life.

No matter how much the world tries to hold you back, believe in your abilities to succeed. You can achieve whatever you want and believing in yourself is the most important step.

False fears or obstacles should not stop you from being successful and achieving the happiness you deserve.

14. Life Is a Race

The Story

Once there was a boy who was a very good runner who lived in a small village. He was very competitive and winning meant everything to the boy.

One day, that boy participated in a running competition where the entire village cheered him and two other little boys throughout the race. The boy took the winning stride and came in first. The crowd cheered and the little boy felt proud and important.

However, there was one wise man in the crowd who remained calm and expressed no sentiment.

A second race was called with two new challengers who came forward to run against the little boy. Sure enough, the little boy finished first once again.

Again, the crowd was ecstatic, but the wise man remained still and calm, expressing no sentiment. The little boy was proud of himself again and pleaded for another race.

Seeing this, the wise old man presented the little boy with two new challengers–one was a frail, elderly lady, and the other was a blind man.

The little boy was confused. “This isn’t hard!”, he exclaimed.

The old wise man replied, “Then race!”

The boy was the only competitor to finish the race, leaving the other two challengers standing at the starting line.

The little boy was ecstatic, but to his surprise, no one from the crowd was cheering this time.

The boy asked, “What happened? Why are they not celebrating my success?”

The wise old man replied, “Race again!! But this time, you all must finish together.”

The little boy approached the starting line and stood in the middle of the frail old lady and the blind man. When the race began, he took both the challengers by the hand and started to walk slowly to the finishing line, crossing it with the other two competitors.

This time at the end of the race the crowd was delighted and cheered for the runners. The wise old man smiled, gently nodding his head.

The little boy felt proud but wanted to know why the crowd only cheered when the team finished the race together. He asked the old man, “Who is the crowd cheering for? Which one of us three?”

The wise old man replied softly, “In this race you have won more than in any race you have ever run before, as you have won people’s respect. The crowd is not cheering for one winner. They’re cheering to show you respect for how you ran.”

The Moral

Is winning the only measurement of your success? If you always win, soon people will stop cheering for you.

When you look at your life, you should ask, “Who is running next to me in this race? If it wasn’t a fair match, did I help others succeed? Did we all finish together?”

It is not always important if you win, what’s important is how you run the race.

Final Thoughts on Inspirational Stories for Kids

Stories with morals help children build their character and learn important values such as kindness, empathy, courage, and compassion. They also engage children’s imagination and help children develop a strong personality.

Share these stories with children and adults alike when life gets difficult and one needs the right motivation to proceed.

These inspirational stories for kids aim at developing self-worth, motivation, and other righteous qualities. So make these stories a part of your routine and inspire others to be positive and responsible individuals.

To learn more about why values are important, check out this article.

Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.

Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.

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