The Little Red Hen

Common Sense Media says

Another Pinkney classic worth clucking about.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The moral: those who work, reap the benefits. The helpful miller in the story is African American, and actually a self-portrait of the illustrator.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a classical re-telling of the Little Red Hen fable, with nothing changed and nothing added -- except gorgeous illustrations. The ending has not been softened, as in some renditions.

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Kids say

What's the story?

After the little red hen finds some wheat seeds, she tries to get the other farm animals to help her plant the seeds, harvest the wheat, and bake the bread. None cooperate, and she teaches them a lesson in the end.

Is it any good?


For generations, kids have enjoyed participating in this fable, with its repetitive "Not I said the...," and the same should be true in this LITTLE RED HEN by Jerry Pinkney. Illustrations are classical Pinkney, and his realistic, sensitive watercolors are large on the page. The round pig is mud-streaked sloth itself, the goat is a wiry whiner, and the rat lurks in beady-eyed mischief. As a fun touch, Pinkney adds a self-portrait as the kind-hearted miller.

All of the animals are colorful, delicately drawn, and so expressive. Even their eyes change from the time they gather around the hen, each pleading his case, to the moment they turn away, shirking any responsibility. With art like this to his name, it's no surprise that Jerry Pinkney has won five Caldecott Medals, five Coretta Scott King Awards, and three New York Times Ten Best Illustrated Awards, among many other honors.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the phrase "not I," or rather shout it at the appropriate times in this fun read-aloud story. Why do you think the other animals say this to the Little Red Hen instead of helping out? Do you think the Little Red Hen should have shared in the end, even though no one helped her? You may enjoy trying different endings and seeing which one fits you best. This might lead to discussion of cooperation and whether working together is helpful. When do you like help? What do you do when no one will give you a hand? When do you think you should help?

Book details

Author:Jerry Pinkney
Illustrator:Jerry Pinkney
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dial Books
Publication date:May 18, 2006
Number of pages:32
Read aloud:4
Read alone:6

This review of The Little Red Hen was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old March 10, 2011
i think this book is really good!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


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