The Ugly Duckling

Listen While You Read Along!

Part 1: One By One

ONCE ON A FARM LONG AGO, a Mama Duck sat on her nest.  “How long must I wait for my babies to hatch? I have to sit here all by myself!”  But what could she do? A Mama duck must keep her eggs warm till they hatch.  

At last, the eggs began to crack.  One yellow duckling stepped out of its shell, then another.  Each little chick shook its wings. “Quack, quack!”

“Look at you!” cried Mama Duck with joy.  “You're all so cute!”

"Look at you!" cried Mama Duck with joy.

“Quack, quack, QUACK!” they said with pride.

“Come line up," said Mama Duck.  "We will go down to the lake for your very first swim.”  She counted – one, two, three, four, five. “Oh dear!” she said with a frown.  “I had six eggs.  I should have six ducklings.”

Mama duck and chicks

One large egg was still in the nest. “Well!" said Mama Duck, "it looks like that big egg will take more time.” So she went back to sit on her nest again and wait some more.


Part 2: Unlike The Others

The next day, the big egg started to hatch!  Out popped a baby boy bird. 

The Ugly Duckling

Yet - my goodness! How different this one looked!  He was much larger than the others. He was not yellow, but dark-gray all over.  And after he stepped out of his egg, he walked with a funny wobble.

One of the yellow ducklings pointed.  “What's THAT? He can't be one of us!”

“I have never seen such an ugly duckling!” said another.  

“How can you say such a thing?” said Mama Duck in a very stern voice. “You are only one day old!  Your brother hatched from the very same nest as you did. Now line up. We will go to the lake for your very first swim.”

"How can you say such a thing?" said Mama Duck in a very stern voice.

All the way the other ducklings quacked, “Ugly!  Ugly! UGLY!” The Ugly Duckling did not know why the other ducklings were yelling at him.  He fell behind to take the last spot in line.

When they got to the lake, each yellow duck jumped in and swam behind Mama Duck.  When it was his turn, the Ugly Duckling jumped in too, and he started to paddle.  “At least he can swim,” Mama Duck thought to herself.

When the yellow ducklings got out of the water and started to play, the Ugly Duckling tried to play with his brothers and sisters.  They yelled at him, “Go away! We will not play with you! You are ugly. And you walk weird!”

The Ugly Duckling

When Mama Duck was close by, she would not let them talk this way.  “Be nice!” she would scold. But she was not always close by.


Part 3: Get Out!

One day, one of the yellow ducklings said to the Ugly Duckling, “You know what?  You would do us a big favor if you just went away!” All of them started to quack: “GO!  Go away!”

“Why won’t they let me stay with them?” thought the Ugly Duckling.  He hung his head down low. “They must be right. I should go.”

That night, the Ugly Duckling flew over the farmyard fence to the other side of the lake.  There he met two grown-up ducks.

The Ugly Duckling

“Can I please stay here for awhile?” said the Ugly Duckling.  “I have nowhere else to live.”

“What do we care?” said one of the ducks.  “It's a big lake.  Just don’t get in our way.”

“Woof! Woof!”  Suddenly a big hungry dog came tearing by, chasing the two ducks.  They quickly flew up in the air, and their feathers fell down on the ground.  The poor Ugly Duckling froze in fear. The dog sniffed and sniffed at the Ugly Duckling, then it turned around and walked away.  “I am too ugly even for that mean old dog,” said the Ugly Duckling in a sorrowful voice.

The sky turned dark.  CRACK!  A bolt of lightning lit up the sky.  Then came a big storm, with heavy rains pouring down.  In just moments, the Ugly Duckling was soaked through and through. A cold wind started to blow.

CRACK!  A bolt of lightning lit up the sky.

“Brrr!” He held both wings close to his chest.  “If only there was someplace I could dry out.”

All at once, a tiny light blinked far off in the woods.  Could it be someone’s hut?

The Ugly Duckling flew to the door.  “Quack?” said he.  The door of the hut creaked open.

“What is all this noise?” said an old woman, looking right and left.  Her eyes were not that good, but she could hear. She looked down. “A duck!”  She picked up the Ugly Duckling and dropped him inside her hut. “You might as well stay here," she said.  "But mind you, I expect you to lay eggs.”

A tomcat and hen both crept up to the Ugly Duckling.  “Who do you think you are?" the tomcat hissed.  "Coming here and taking up room by the fire!”   

"Who do you think you are?" the tomcat hissed.

“Squawk!” said the hen.  “I'm the only one around here who lays eggs. You don't know the first thing about laying eggs.”

“You got that right,” said the Ugly Duckling.  “I'm a boy duck.”

“Then why are you here?” sneered the tomcat.  “Didn't you hear what the old woman said?”

“Imposter!  Get out of here!” yipped the hen.  

“Go away!" jeered the tomcat.

The door was still a bit open, so the poor Ugly Duckling crept out the door and back into the storm.

“No one ever wants me,” said the Ugly Duckling with a tear in its eye.  



Part 4: A New Lake

The storm ended.  Finally he found another lake.  Looking in the water, the Ugly Duckling saw a reflection from above - a flock of large birds were flying overhead, above him.  He turned to admire them. They were the most beautiful birds he had ever seen.  Their long bodies and slender necks winged through the sky with ease and grace. He watched until the very last one had disappeared from view.  

The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling stayed at the lake as the days grew shorter.  The leaves turned deep red and gold, and fell to the ground.  Winter came, setting its blanket of white snow. The cold wind blew and the clouds darkened.   He had to dive into small holes in the ice to find fish to eat. Under the ice, it was all he could do to keep paddling so the water wouldn't freeze around him, trapping him underneath the lake.

The cold wind blew and the clouds darkened.

He became terribly tired. The ice got thicker still and the wind blew harder.

In a moment, two giant hands swept him up.  “You poor thing!” said a farmer. He held the Ugly Duckling close to his thick warm wool jacket.  "You didn't fly south with the others?" The farmer was carrying him someplace - where?  

The next months were lovely.  Warmth from the heat of the fire and from the heart of the farmer enveloped our poor hero. For the rest of the winter, the farmer cared for the Ugly Duckling.  


Part 5: Spring

At last, spring came. Little dots of green spotted the tree branches. Short, bright flowers popped up from the ground.  

“It's time for you to go back to the lake to swim again, as you were born to do,” said the farmer.  He took the duckling back to the lake where he had found him and set him on the water.

“I feel good!” said the young bird, flapping his wings.  “Why, I don't think I ever felt as strong as I do right now!”

Spring passed, then summer.  The leaves started to change colors when one day, the Ugly Duckling heard quiet splashing sounds behind him.  He turned around.  A flock of those same beautiful birds he had once seen winging through the sky now sat on the lake.

The leaves started to change colors when one day, the Ugly Duckling heard quiet splashing sounds behind him.

“Don't worry!” he said to the beautiful birds, holding out one of his wings.  “I am leaving. I won't make trouble for you.” When he happened to glance down at the lake, he saw a reflection in the water that looked like one of those beautiful birds.  Why was the bird so close to him? He jumped back. The reflection jumped back, too.

“What's this?” he thought, puzzled.  Our troubled hero stretched his neck and strangely, the reflection of the beautiful bird in the lake stretched its neck, too.

“Why are you leaving so soon?" called out one of the beautiful birds. 

"Come back!” said another.  

“Stay with us!” said yet another swan.  “We’ll be friends.”

The Ugly Duckling

Then, the bird who used to be the Ugly Duckling realized what had happened.  He was no longer an ugly gray bird that wobbled when it walked.  He had grown into a beautiful swan!  Then a dark thought crossed his mind.

He had grown into a beautiful swan!

"You only want me because I'm a swan and I look like you," said he.

"That's not it at all!" said the first swan who had spoken. "We saw you all alone down here and thought you might want to join us.  We don't care how birds look.  Why, take a look at Pelican over there." 

"No one would take me for a swan," squawked Pelican.  

"How did you end up with them?" asked our hero, who used to be an Ugly Duckling.

"Stayed up too late the night before," shrugged Pelican.  "Slept till noon. My flock took off without me.  Was sure glad the swans came along when they did. Thanks, guys!" 

Said the second swan who had spoken, "And there's Egret." 

"We don't care how birds look."

"What can I tell you?" said Egret.  "I love to ride those wind currents!  Then found out my entire flock was gone.  By then there was no way I could catch up.  If the swans didn't come along and invite me to join them, who knows where I'd be now?" 

The hero who used to be an Ugly Duckling considered these stories, yet was still skeptical.  "Winter may get a little cold on the lake," he said, "but no one bothers me here.  And spring comes eventually." 

"Eventually?" said the first swan.  "Why suffer if you don't have to? Where we fly to, the sun shines hot all day long. Imagine it - thick, delicious pondweed for as far as you can see.  Algae, waterside grasses, the works!" 

"I see your point," admitted our hero.

"Besides," said the third swan, "I bet you'd love to fly farther than just circling around this lake.  We sure do." 

"Eventually?" said the first swan.  "Why suffer if you don't have to?"

Another good point.  Our hero often imagined how lovely it would be to stretch out and just fly, fly, and fly some more.

The bird who used to be an Ugly Duckling considered, "These birds may be beautiful to look at, but they are also beautiful inside.  This is the flock for me." 

And so the entire flock, including their newest friend, flapped their wings together.  And in one moment they took off into the clear blue sky.



Posted in 5min Bedtime Stories, Bedtime Stories, Bullying, Denmark, Diversity & Inclusion, English Story for Kids, Europe, STORIES FOR KIDS, World Tales and tagged , , , .


  1. Beauty is not in clothes you wear, beauty is not in make-up you put on. The real beauty is in the good Manner we have.

  2. We should not judge a book by its cover.
    We should not hurt other’s feelings.
    You grow beautiful, no matter what people say you are beautiful.

  3. I am a fellow care taker of my little one (little space) and I read her this story and she fell right asleep. I’m very thankful that this webpage was available because I as a daddy to my little one, I have mental issues so I lack the happiness of imagination, but she wanted a story so this was a lifesaver.
    P.s. she’s so cute when she’s asleep??❤

  4. My 14 year old bestie could not stop playing with her “toys” and actin up in bed so i read her this story and before i knew it she was fast asleep ??? time to do my share ????

  5. Hi! My name is Olivia. I am 5 years old. My daddy read this story to me for bedtime. And I really really enjoyed it. And I love my toys.

    The End

  6. I never felt like I belonged with people my age, because I was tall and I was always so shy to talk irl. At the end it shows that no matter what, you’ll always get through stuff. Looks should not matter because god made us, and everyone is unique and different. I read this for my boyfriend till he fell asleep. This story shows to not be mean to people and always show respect ?.

  7. After I rallied my girlfriend, I read her this story and she fell right asleep! She is 18, police, we’re just enthusiastic. It is her fetish.

  8. I feel like this story belongs to people my age because people should know that looks do not matter and do not judge someone by them. The important lesson is what I said about the the first question.

  9. I’m 15 this year. But my friends didn’t like me cause I’m too short and when we play together, they said that I’m troublesome.

    Well… this story did give me some effect.

  10. This teaches you the you should be kind to other people no matter the image the ugly duck turned into a beautiful swan ?

  11. 1. I did feel like that because I had a very low self esteem but after years went by, I focused more on my schooling career. Now everyone wants to hang out with me and include me.
    2. There’s always hope and there’s always a place for everyone and no matter what anyone has to say you are beautiful. Also never to judge a book by its cover and jump the gun.

  12. 1. I have not ever felt like I didn’t belong.
    2. He found out that he wasn’t ugly and was a beautiful swan. You shouldn’t listen to what others think about you.

  13. At school no one talks to me half the time. Except for Clara.
    That he is not an ugly duckling. And that you’re not always gonna be accepted. But it’s okay. You’re great on your own.

  14. I think this was a amazing story. I felt like you should have added a bit more where the used to be ugly duckling showed his family of ducks what he looks like now. I feel that they would be jealous and sorry for the words they used to make the ugly ducking feel bad about himself.

  15. Yes, right now I do not feel good with people my age. It just gives me a feeling in my throat that makes me wanna cry.
    The most important lesson the Ugly Duckling learns is to not to treat others poorly just because of what they look like.

  16. This was a great version of an amazing classical story. I used to be made fun of for having light colored eyebrows and I hated it, until one day I realized that it doesn’t matter what people think of you!

  17. My little sis really enjoyed this so much! I read it to her at night. She liked it so much that she fell asleep? before I even finished the story; which is kinda rare with her because it usually takes like a hour or so to make her go to sleep. Thank you for the story!!?

  18. 1. at one point i did feel like i didn’t because i was much smaller than everyone, but now that i hit a growth spurt i feel i’m above them all.
    2.i feel that he has learned to not mind what people think of you, to ghost for a little while away from all distractions and to come back even better as he did at the end of the story.

  19. i was always picked on by my family and they would tell me stuff and felt as if they never wanted me there with them

    the important lesson the duckling learned is that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, you will always be someone great

  20. One time a friend felt like she didn’t with the rest of the kids and I made myself feel how she was feeling then I told the teacher.

  21. I used to be insulted because of crooked teeth and wearing braces .. but few years later braces became a trend, even for people who didn’t need it (which is weird for me). After I removed my braces, they said I was beautiful. I never forgot because for such a small child, it was a sad thing to hear from people around me.

    #sorry bout my english :)

  22. 1.I did feel that way especially when I was a school-goer because of how I looked,no one treated me fairly calling me fat,I could not play with others.I felt like an outsider, constantly being bullied for no good reason.
    The moral of Ugly Duckling tells us that no matter what others say or think about you, always believe in yourself.There is beauty even in imperfection.The world may turn against your back,but you have got nothing to lose :)

  23. yes, I have felt like I don’t belong somewhere before, the message of the ugly duckling is that no matter how you look you’re still beautiful

  24. Yes, I always feel like I don’t belong in a place. I always have this thought that makes me think that I should leave but then I realized that there is no problem with me being there.

    The ugly duckling learned that he was not an ugly bird, he looked at himself through a reflection and realized that he was beautiful the way he was.

  25. When I was little I was pretty tall (not anymore) and I felt left out when I was constantly looking OVER the kids head. Soon enough I learned to be confident and that it was okay to be tall.

    The lesson the ugly duckling learned is that he just has to embrace what he looks like and be confident.

  26. I think this story had a great lesson to it because how each place and each person or animal the duckling went to he was always welcome because he wasn’t ugly he was beautiful just the way he was and so don’t let people tell you ugly you’re not beautiful because you’re perfect just the way you are and don’t let people tell you otherwise.

  27. I like you had a choice to read by yourself or have read to you and that really helpful so can we have these options more often please

  28. I have felt left out first when I did gymnastics I didn’t know anything so there were other girls that knew more, but it took me a while to be in there stage so here I am I can do what they could do and I’m learning more new things! ugly duckling learned his lesson that he just had to kept trying harder he didn’t give up which was great! So he learned to never give up and that he is beautiful

  29. Question 1: I never really felt like I didn’t belong with others my age because everyone is so different where none of us are really the same.
    Question 2: The important lesson the Ugly Duckling learned in the end is to embrace your difference.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *