††††††††††† I think everyone will have heard at least one of these beast-stories or fables at some time in their lives, even if they have not realized that Aesop, a slave born in approximately AD 600, first told it.
The Fox And The Grapes, in which a fox, trying to get some grapes from a tree, gives up and goes away, denouncing the grapes as sour anyway, is one. The moral, given at the conclusion of the Fable is how we often enviously denounce that which we cannot have for ourselves, often through our own willingness not to persevere.
Another classic, oft told story is that of the Rabbit and the Tortoise, even used in Bugs Bunny Cartoons. A Hare, or rabbit, boasts of its great speed to a tortoise, which then challenges it to a race. The hare hares off at speed as the tortoise begins its slow inexorable crawl, but the rabbit takes victory for granted and takes a snooze just before the finishing line, so the tortoise takes the race. The moral here is one against taking our skills and abilities for granted, while the underdog can often sneak up and take us by surprise. It is all about not underestimating our enemies.†
Many stories produced in Aesop's name were probably only attributed to him, but his work has seldom been matched by any such work by modern authors, and they are among the best short-short stories available for children. They have a universal, timeless appeal. They are undoubtedly highly educational as well as providing tremendous entertainment.†
There are several print editions of the book, which has hundreds of stories, some possibly penned by Aesopís contemporaries after being told by him. There are also various online versions. They are certainly worth adding to your list of stories to read to your children, especially at bedtimes. http://www.webterrace.com/aesop/
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