The Tortoise and the Hare – Favorite Kids Stories

“The Tortoise and the Hare” Story

Storyteller:
One day as the warm, spring breezes blew in Stavers Woods, a rabbit – or hare as he preferred to be called – stood on an old tree stump boasting about his amazing running speed.  A group of other forest animals sat around him yawning and looking quite bored.

Hare:
A hare is a rabbit as everyone knows, a hare is a rabbit from his ear pits to his toes, a hare has no need for feathers or wings, for a hare is the fastest of all living things.

Nephew hare:
Oh uncle, that was beautiful!

Hare:
Ha ha.  Why thank you nephew hair.  Just a little something I made up while racing about in the forest this morning.

Mr. Fox:
As usual, you have nothing else to do but waste your time.

Hare:
Mr. Fox, could you still be angry that I out ran you last week?  And the week before that?  And the week before that?

Mr. Fox:
No I’m not.  I’m just tired of all your boasting and so is everyone else.

Nephew hare:
Not me uncle.

Hare:
Well, you’ll have to admit that what I say is the truth.  Is there one among you that can run faster than I can?  Speak up!  Speak up!  Just one, c’mon!  In fact, I challenge anyone here to race with me.  Do I have any takers?

Storyteller:
None of the animals answered for a very long time and just as the hare was about to dedicate another poem to himself, the shy tortoise stuck her head out of her shell and said…

Tortoise:
Duh, I’ll race ya.

Hare:
(Laughs) What?  That’s ridiculous.  You are joking aren’t you?

Tortoise:
No Mr. Hare.  I’m very serious.

Hare:
Why, I could beat you running on one leg.  I could beat you running on one leg with a basket of coconuts on my head.  I could beat you running on one leg with a basket of coconuts on my head and two watermelons on my back.  I could…

Tortoise:
Ah, save your boasting until after you’ve won the race.  I accept your challenge.

Storyteller:
The forest animals all shook their heads in wonder.  How could the tortoise ever expect to win against the hare?  Even the swift fox couldn’t beat him, but all the same, they wished her well.  At least she had the nerve to stand up to him.

So, the fox and the raccoon were selected to lay out the running course.  They thought very carefully about how this should be done.  If the course were too short, by the time the tortoise got up enough speed, the hare would already be finished.  And if the course were too long, the poor tortoise would get so tired, she’d never cross the finish line at all.

So they decided to compromise and make the race route a medium length.

Raccoon:
Alright, you have twenty minutes to warm up and then the snail will put you in position and when you see the grasshopper jump, you start the race.  We’re all going down to the finish line now to wait for you.  Good luck.

Storyteller:
All the animals but the snail and the grasshopper dashed off down the hill to the finish line.  The hare did a few deep knee bends and twenty or thirty push-ups.  He stretched his ears and limbered up his toes.  The tortoise just stood calmly and practiced through deep breathing exercises.  Soon, the snail called the two racers to the starting line.

When they were both lined up, the snail nodded to the grasshopper and he jumped high into the air.  The hare tore off down the hill and was at the pond almost before the tortoise had moved even three inches, but she held her head high and continued her slow and steady pace.  When the tortoise finally reached the pond, she found the hare lounging in the grass munching clover.

Tortoise:
Uh, it’s not good to eat anything while you’re racing.  It gives you cramps.

Hare:
Ha!  I’ll be over the finish line before my stomach knows my feet moved.  So, are you ready to give up yet?

Tortoise:
No!  Why should I give up?  You haven’t crossed the finish line yet.

Hare:
Ha ha.  I could have if I hadn’t waited here for you.

Tortoise:
I didn’t ask you to wait for me.

Hare:
Well, being the good sport that I am, I just wanted to cheer you on and give you some tips.

Tortoise:
Thank you but I don’t think I need any of your tips.

Hare:
Ooh, are you sure?  I have one real good one for you.  When you’re running, move your legs.

Storyteller:
And with that, the hare darted off for the hickory trees.  When he got there, he saw all the animals down by the finish line waiting.  He hated to see the race over so soon.  He wanted to draw out the glory of his winning moment, so he decided to ease back in the grass and take a little nap.

Hare:
I have plenty of time for a little snooze.  The tortoise won’t be anywhere near that finish line for hours.

Storyteller:
Soon he was dreaming of his mother’s cozy little burrow in the woods.  He could almost smell her fresh-baked carrot pies and taste her homemade apple cider.  Then he dreamed of the games he used to play with his brothers and sisters like huff and seek, bunny in the middle, and rabbit rover.  He could hear them screaming and cheering just like it was real life.  Suddenly, the hare’s eyes flew open – that was real screaming and cheering he heard!

He scrambled to his feet and looked down the hill toward the finish line.  The tortoise was almost there!

Hare:
Oh, fly feet fly!

Storyteller:
The hare ran as fast as he had ever run in his life.  He tore through the meadows and the wind of his stir made the grasses bow down to their roots.  He reached the boulder and leaped over it in one bound and raced for the outstretched gourd vine that was the finish line.

Hare:
I’m right behind you tortoise!  Give up.  It’s no use.  You can’t win.

Storyteller:
But the tortoise was within an inch of crossing the finish line.  The crowd of cheering animals was wild with excitement!

Mr. Fox:
Oooooh, go tortoise go!  You can do it!  Beat the hare!

Storyteller:
She breathed deeply and put one foot in front of the other and continued her pace.  The hare was coming at full speed.  A cloud of dust shot up behind him as he dug in harder for the finish.

But the tortoise was at the line now.  Her head was over and then her front legs and next her shell and then her rear legs and just as the hare was about to take a final leap to clear the vine, her tail crossed the finish line!

Mr. Raccoon:
She’s done it!  She’s won the race!  She beat the hare.

Hare:
(Out of breath) I can’t believe it!  I’ve never been so embarrassed in my whole life, beaten by a tortoise.  This must be a bad dream.  It can’t be true, it just can’t be true.

Mr. Fox:
Heh heh heh heh, but it is true, Hare.

Tortoise:
A tortoise is a turtle as everyone knows.  A tortoise is a turtle from her ear tips to her toes.  A tortoise has no need of feathers or wings, for a tortoise is the fastest of all living things.

Hare:
No, no.  How could this have happened to me?

Tortoise:
Often Mr. Hare, slow and steady wins the race.