The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling Story 

Illustrated By: Stella Wei

This is the Fairy Tale The Ugly Duckling Story. It has been adapted from Hans Christian Andersen and is brought to you by Stories to Grow By. 

Listen to the Ugly Duckling while you read along! 


On a farm long ago, a Mama Duck sat on her nest.  “How long must I wait for my babies to hatch?” she said.  “I have to sit here all alone! And no one comes to visit me.”  But what could she do? A Mama duck must keep her eggs warm till they hatch.  

At last, the eggs began to crack.  One by one, yellow ducklings stepped out of their shells.  They shook their wings and said, “Quack, quack!”

“Look at all of you!” said Mama Duck with joy.  “You are all so cute!”

“Quack, quack!” they said.

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

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


The Ugly Duckling


The next day, the big egg started to hatch.  Out came a baby boy bird. But if one may say so, it was an odd-looking thing.  This bird was much bigger than others. He was not yellow at all - he was dark-gray from his head to his feet.  And he walked with a funny wobble.

One of the yellow ducklings pointed.  “What is THAT? He cannot 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 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.”

Yet the other ducklings quacked, “Ugly!  Ugly! Ugly!” The Ugly Duckling did not know why the other ducklings were yelling at him.  He took the last spot in the line.

Each yellow duck jumped in the river and swam behind Mama Duck.  When it was his turn, the Ugly Duckling jumped in and started to paddle, too.  “At least he can swim,” Mama Duck said to herself.

When they left the water and started to play, the Ugly Duckling tried to play with his brothers and sisters, too.  They yelled, “Go away! We will not play with you! You are ugly. And you walk weird, too!”


The Ugly Duckling


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

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 from here!” All of them started to quack, “Get out!  Get out! Get out!”

“Why won’t they let me stay here?” said the Ugly Duckling to himself.  He hung his head down low. “Ah, they are right. I should go.”

That night, the Ugly Duckling flew over the farmyard fence.  He flew till he landed on 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 be.”

“What do we care?” said one of the ducks.  “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 turned away.  “I am too ugly even for the big hungry dog to want,” said the Ugly Duckling with his head hung low.

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

“Brrr!” he said with both wings held close to his chest.  “If only there was a place I could get dry.”

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

He flew to the door.  “Quack?” said the Ugly Duckling.  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. Then she looked down. “Ah, look at that, it’s a duck!”  She picked up the Ugly Duckling and dropped him inside her hut. “You can stay here, but only if you lay eggs,” she said.

A tomcat and hen crept up to the Ugly Duckling.  “Who do you think you are, coming in here and taking up room by the fire!” said the tomcat.  

“Squawk!” said the hen.  “I do not need anyone else in this hut laying eggs.”

“Do not worry about that,” said the Ugly Duckling.  “I am a boy duck.”

“Then why are you still here?” said the tomcat.  “Did you not hear what the old woman said?”

“Get out of here, pretender!” clucked the hen.  

“Get out!  Get out!“ hissed the tomcat.

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

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


The Ugly Duckling


The storm ended.  Soon he found a new lake.  Looking into the water, the Ugly Duckling saw the reflection of a flock of large white birds flying.  He looked overhead and could not believe what he saw. There, above him, were the most beautiful birds he had ever seen!  Their long white bodies and slender necks seemed to just glide through the sky. He watched until the very last bird had winged its way out of view.  

He stayed at that lake all by himself, and time passed.  The leaves of the trees turned deep red and gold, and then the leaves fell to the ground.  Winter came, setting a blanket of white snow all over. The cold wind and the dark clouds made the Ugly Duckling feel even more sad.

He had to go into the cold, cold lake to fish, but it was getting harder to swim.  The lake was turning to ice. One day, it was all he could do was to paddle the water to keep it from freezing around him, and trapping him in the lake.

“I am so tired!” he said, paddling with all his might.  The ice got thicker and drew closer to him.

In a moment, two giant hands swept him up.  “You poor thing!” said a farmer. He held the Ugly Duckling close to his thick wool jacket and took the bird to his home.  

Never was a warm fireplace more welcome!  For the rest of the winter, the farmer cared for the Ugly Duckling.  Then spring came. Tips of green covered the trees. Short, bright flowers popped up from the ground.  

“It is time for you to go 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 with care on the water.

“Gosh, I feel strong,” said the young bird, flapping his wings.  “Why, I never felt as strong as I do right now!”

He heard quiet splashing sounds behind him, and turned around.  A flock of those same beautiful birds he had seen in the sky before landed behind him on the water.

“Do not worry!” he said to them, holding out one wing.  “I will go now. I will not make trouble for you.” A big fat tear rolled down his cheek.  He turned to go away. When he opened his eyes, he saw a reflection in the water of one of those beautiful white birds.  Why was it so close to him? He jumped back. And the reflection jumped back, too.


The Ugly Duckling


“What is this?” he said.  He stretched his neck, and the reflection of the beautiful bird stretched its neck, too.

“Why are you going so soon?” said one of the beautiful birds.  

“Stay here, with us!” said another.  “We’ll be great friends.”

Then, the bird who used to be the Ugly Duckling knew what had happened!  He was no longer an ugly gray bird that wobbled when it walked. 

At one moment, all the swans flapped their wings and took off into the sky. “Come with us,” one called back. “Take the lead!” So he flapped his wings fast and took his place in front of the whole flock.  All his new friends flapped their wings behind him.

“Say!” he said, gliding and dipping through the sky as he sped on.  “Who’s an ugly duckling now? Surely, Not I!”


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


  1. Every child and adult has challenges, which are sometimes painful. Some hardships are difficult and make us feel unworthy. Staying strong, asking for help and being persistent will pay off even if you aren’t aware at the time.

  2. I think what the story is trying to persuade is that you should not be a rude person and judge someone from their appearance. People should know that you can’t judge a book by its cover, it is all about the inside.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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??❤

  6. 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 ????

  7. 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

  8. 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 ?.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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!!?

  20. 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.

  21. 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

  22. 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.

  23. 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 :)

  24. 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 :)

  25. 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

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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

  30. 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

  31. 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.

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