Fables are written backwards; you start with the moral, then write the story.  Proverbs are good sources of morals.  Following this paragraph are some that could serve as prompts, as well as morals to the story. Depending on the age of your students, you may need to discuss the meanings of some of these proverbs.  Students may want to brainstorm others, and/or compile a list culled from familiar fables.  In any case, you’ll want to read aloud, discuss, and analyze many fables before students try writing their own.  Ask your librarian to recommend collections of Aesop’s fables as well as those from different cultures, and the wonderfully funny original fables in the book FABLES by Arnold Lobel.

Some proverbs:

Beauty is only skin deep.
It takes two to tango.
Walls have ears.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Don’t cross that bridge until you come to it.
A stitch in time saves nine.
Actions speak louder than words.
Every cloud has a silver lining.


  1. Choose a moral.
  2. Think about what kind of personality your main character should have so that he needs to learn the lesson represented by your moral.
  3. Make your main character an animal whose personality “fits” your fable’s needs.  (ex. The turtle in THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE may be plodding, but as the story points out: Slow and steady wins the race.)
  4. Make up a situation where your character can learn the lesson represented by your moral.
  5. Make all description, dialogue and character thoughts reflect the personality you have chosen for your character(s).

Note: Most fables involve two animal characters with opposite types of personalities.

From the Writing Curriculum Files of Children’s Author, Suzanne Williams www.suzanne-williams.com