• 1
  • All Grimm
    Fairy Tales
  • 2
  • Sorted by
    reading time
  • 3
  • Perfect for reading
The A-B-C Book
Grimm Märchen

The A-B-C Book - Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Reading time for children: 11 min

Once there was a man who had written some new rhymes for the A-B-C Book – two lines for each letter, just as in the old A-B-C Book. He believed the old rhymes were too antiquated, that something new was needed, and he thought well indeed of his own rhymes.

His new A-B-C Book was still only in handwriting, and already it had been placed beside the old printed one in the great bookcase where there stood many books, both of knowledge and for amusement. But the old A-B-C Book didn’t want to be a neighbor to the new one, and therefore had sprung down from the shelf and at the same time had given the new one a push, so that it, as well as the old one, now lay on the floor, with all its loose leaves scattered about.

The old A-B-C Book lay open at the first page – and that is the most important page, for there all the letters, large and small, are displayed. That one page contains on it the essence of all the books that ever were written. It contains the alphabet, that wonderful army of signs which rules the world; truly a marvelous power they have! Everything depends on the order in which they are commanded to stand. They have the power to give life or to kill, to gladden and to sadden. Separately they mean nothing, but marshaled and ranked in word formations, what can they not accomplish! Yes, when God put them into man’s thoughts, human strength became inferior to that which lay in the alphabet, and we yielded with a deep bow.

There, then, they lay now, facing upward, and the Cock which was pictured at the big A of the alphabet gleamed with feathers of red, blue, and green. Proudly he puffed himself up and ruffled his plumage, for he knew how important the letters were and that he was the only living thing among them.

When he found the old A-B-C Book had fallen open on the floor, he flapped his wings, flew out, and perched himself on a corner of the bookcase. There he preened himself with his beak and crowed loudly and long. Every single book in the case, all of which would stand day and night, as if in a trance when nobody was reading them, was roused by his trumpet call. Then the Cock spoke out loudly and clearly about the way the worthy old A-B-C Book had been insulted.

„Everything has to be new and different nowadays,“ he said. „Everything has to be advanced. Children are so wise that they can read before they have even learned the alphabet. ‚They should have something new!‘ said the man who wrote those new verses sprawling there on the floor. I know them all by heart. He admires them so much that I have heard him read them aloud more than ten times over. No, I prefer my own, the good old rhymes with Xanthus for X, and with the pictures that belong to them! I’ll fight for them and crow for them! Every book in the case here knows them very well. Now I’ll read aloud these new rhymes. I’ll try to read them patiently, and I know we’ll all agree they’re worthless.

A – Adam

Had Adam obeyed, he’d not have had to leave
The Garden where first dwelt he and Eve. B – Bank; Bee

The Bank is a place where you put your money;
The Bee is an insect that gathers honey. „Now that verse I find profoundly insipid!“ said the Cock. „But I’ll read on.

C – Columbus

Columbus sailed the ocean to the distant shore,
And then the earth became twice as big as before. D – Denmark

About the kingdom of Denmark, there’s a saying which goes
God’s hand protects it, as every Dane knows. „That many people will consider beautiful,“ said the Cock. „But I don’t. I see nothing beautiful about it. But I’ll go on.

E – Elephant

The Elephant has a heavy step,
Though young in heart and full of pep. F – Face

The Moon above feels at its best
When an eclipse gives its Face a rest. G – Goat

It is easier to sail a boat
Than to teach manners to a Goat! H – Hurrah

Hurrah is a word we often hear;
How often does the deed merit such cheer? „How will a child understand that!“ said the Cock. „I suppose they’ll put on the title page, ‚A-B-C Book for Big People and Little People‘; but the big people have something else to do besides read the rhymes in A-B-C Books, and the little people won’t be able to understand them. There is a limit to everything. But to continue:

J – Job

We have a Job to do on earth
Till earth becomes our final berth. „Now, that’s crude!“ said the Cock.

K – Kitten

When Kittens grow up we call them cats
And hope they’ll catch our mice and rats. L – Lion

The savage Lion has much more sense
Than the arty critic’s stinging offense! „How are you going to explain that one to children?“ said the Cock.

M – Morning Sun

The golden Morning sun arose,
But not because of the cock’s crows. „Now he’s getting personal!“ said the Cock. „But then I’m in excellent company. I’m in company with the sun. Let’s go on.

N – Negro

Black is a Negro, black as Night,
And we cannot wash him white! O – Olive Leaf

The best of leaves – you know its name? The dove’s Olive leaf – of Bible fame. P – Peace

That Peace may ever reign, far and near,
Is indeed a hope we all hold dear. Q – Queen; Quack

A Queen is a lady of royal position. A Quack is a fake and not a physician. R – Round

One may be Round and well extended,
But that doesn’t mean one is well descended! S – Swine

Be not a braggart; be honest and true,
Though many Swine in the forest belong to you! „Will you permit me to crow!“ said the Cock. „It tries your strength, reading so much. I must catch my breath.“ And then he crowed, shrill as a trumpet of brass, and it was a great pleasure to listen to – for the Cock. „I’ll go on.

T – Teakettle; Tea Urn

The Teakettle in the kitchen will always belong,
And yet to the Tea urn it gives its song. U – Universe

Our Universe will always be,
Through ages to eternity. „Now that is meant to be deep!“ said the Cock. „It’s so deep I can’t get to the bottom of it!

W – Washerwoman

A Washerwoman will wash and scrub
Until there’s nothing left but the tub! „Now, it’s certainly impossible that he can have found anything new for X.

X – Xantippe

In the sea of marriage are rocks of strife,
As Socrates found with Xantippe, his wife. „He would have to take Xantippe! Xanthus is much better.

Y – Ygdrasil

Under Ygdrasil tree the gods sat every day;
But the tree is dead and the gods have gone away. „Now we are almost through,“ said the Cock. „That’s a relief. I’ll continue on.

Z – Zephyr

Zephyr, in Danish, is a west wind so cold
It penetrates fur and skin, we’re told. „That’s that. But that’s not the end of it. Now it will be printed and then it will be read. It will be offered in place of the noble old rhymes in my book. What says this assembly – learned and not so learned, single volumes and collected works? What says the alphabet? I have spoken. Now let the others act.“

The books stood still, and the bookcase stood still; but the Cock flew back to his place at the capital A in the old A-B-C Book and looked proudly around. „I have spoken well, and I have crowed well. The new A-B-C Book can’t do anything like that. It will certainly die. In fact, it’s dead already, for it has no Cock!“

LanguagesLearn languages. Double-Tap on one word.Learn languages in context with and

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The A-B-C book“

„The A-B-C Book“ is a lesser-known work by Hans Christian Andersen. It is not a traditional fairy tale, but rather a short poem for children that uses the alphabet as a tool for teaching lessons and promoting moral values. Andersen’s intent was to create an engaging, educational poem that would be both entertaining and instructive for young readers.

The poem features a series of short verses, each one corresponding to a different letter of the alphabet. Each verse offers a moral or educational lesson, often using allegorical characters or situations to illustrate the message. The lessons in the poem touch on themes such as kindness, humility, diligence, and the importance of family and community.

In writing „The A-B-C Book,“ Andersen aimed to create a work that would not only teach young readers the alphabet but also instill in them important life lessons and values. As with many of his other works, Andersen’s unique storytelling style and ability to captivate readers of all ages are evident in this charming and instructive poem.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The A-B-C book“

„The A-B-C Book“ by Hans Christian Andersen is a poem that provides moral and educational lessons for young readers. Interpreting this work involves understanding the underlying themes and messages presented throughout the poem. Here are some interpretations of „The A-B-C Book“:

Learning through storytelling: As with many of Andersen’s works, „The A-B-C Book“ uses storytelling to teach important lessons. Each letter of the alphabet is accompanied by a short verse with a moral or educational message, demonstrating the power of storytelling in learning and personal development.

Importance of moral values: Each verse in the poem addresses a different moral value or life lesson, emphasizing the importance of developing good character traits and values from a young age. Themes such as kindness, humility, diligence, and the importance of family and community are explored throughout the poem.

Engaging education: Andersen’s poem shows that learning can be engaging and entertaining. By incorporating moral and educational lessons into a playful and captivating poem, he encourages young readers to be more receptive to learning and understanding complex ideas.

Timeless lessons: Although „The A-B-C Book“ was written in the 19th century, the moral values and life lessons presented in the poem remain relevant and valuable today. Andersen’s work demonstrates that some lessons are universal and can be passed down through generations.

In summary, „The A-B-C Book“ is an engaging and educational poem that teaches important moral values and life lessons through the power of storytelling.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The A-B-C book“

Although „The A-B-C Book“ is not one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most famous works, it has been adapted in various ways to reach a wider audience and provide educational content for children. Some adaptations of „The A-B-C Book“ include:

Illustrated children’s books: „The A-B-C Book“ has been published in various formats, including illustrated children’s books that showcase the alphabet alongside each verse. This helps young readers connect the letters of the alphabet to the lessons conveyed in the poem. Illustrations also make the content more engaging and visually appealing for children.

Educational materials: The poem has been incorporated into educational materials for young learners, such as lesson plans and worksheets. Teachers can use „The A-B-C Book“ to teach the alphabet, language arts, and moral values simultaneously. Some lesson plans may include activities that require students to create their own alphabet poems, inspired by Andersen’s work.

Audiobooks and storytelling: „The A-B-C Book“ has been adapted into audiobook format and can be found in some collections of Hans Christian Andersen’s works. Storytellers and voice actors bring the poem to life, making it more accessible to children who prefer auditory learning or who struggle with reading.

Animated short films or videos: While there may not be a direct adaptation of „The A-B-C Book“ in film or video format, the concept of using storytelling to teach the alphabet has been applied in many educational children’s shows and videos. These adaptations may borrow themes and ideas from Andersen’s poem while creating new content to entertain and educate young viewers.

While there may not be as many direct adaptations of „The A-B-C Book“ as some of Hans Christian Andersen’s other works, its impact can still be felt in various forms of educational content for children. Its use of storytelling to teach the alphabet, language arts, and moral values has inspired educators and content creators to develop engaging and meaningful learning experiences for young readers. As a result, „The A-B-C Book“ continues to influence the ways in which children are introduced to the alphabet and valuable life lessons.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The A-B-C book“

Hans Christian Andersen’s „The A-B-C Book“ has inspired several adaptations in different media. Here are some notable examples:

The ABC Book: A Musical Game for Children (1857): This is a musical adaptation of the story by composer Stephen Glover. It features songs for each letter of the alphabet, and was designed to be used as an educational tool to teach children the alphabet.

The ABC Book: A Pop-Up Alphabet (1986): This is a children’s book adaptation of the story by Robert Sabuda. It features elaborate pop-up illustrations for each letter of the alphabet, and is designed to be a playful and interactive way for children to learn the alphabet.

The A-B-C Murders (1936): This is a detective novel by Agatha Christie that uses the letters of the alphabet as a motif. The plot revolves around a series of murders that are committed in alphabetical order, and the detective must solve the mystery before the killer completes the alphabet.

The ABCs of Death (2012): This is a horror anthology film that features 26 short films, each based on a different letter of the alphabet. The film is not directly based on Andersen’s story, but it uses the alphabet as a structure to explore different themes of horror and death.

Sesame Street: This popular children’s TV show often features segments that teach children the alphabet and basic words, using playful and interactive methods. These segments are indirectly influenced by Andersen’s story, which also aims to teach children the alphabet in a playful and imaginative way.

Overall, „The A-B-C Book“ has inspired several adaptations in different genres, demonstrating its enduring appeal as a story that explores the themes of education, imagination, and self-discovery.

Summary of the plot

„The A-B-C Book“ by Hans Christian Andersen is a whimsical tale that uses the alphabet to present a series of short stories and moral lessons. Each letter of the alphabet is represented by a brief story, poem, or anecdote, which is meant to educate and entertain children. The stories cover a wide range of themes, such as nature, love, friendship, and the importance of kindness and understanding. Through this unique approach to storytelling, Andersen creates an engaging and enjoyable way for young readers to learn the alphabet while also instilling valuable life lessons.


Backgrounds to fairy tale „The A-B-C book“

„The A-B-C book“ is a fairy tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. Born on April 2, 1805, and passing away on August 4, 1875, Andersen was a prolific writer known for his fairy tales, which have been translated into numerous languages and have become an integral part of global children’s literature. Some of his most famous works include „The Little Mermaid,“ „The Ugly Duckling,“ „The Emperor’s New Clothes,“ and „The Snow Queen.“

Andersen’s fairy tales often contain moral lessons and explore themes such as love, friendship, bravery, and the struggle between good and evil. His stories typically feature elements of fantasy and magic, which serve to enchant and captivate readers of all ages.

In „The A-B-C book,“ Andersen uses the conflict between the old and new A-B-C Books to explore themes such as tradition versus innovation, the power of language, and the role of children’s literature in education. The tale serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving traditions while also being open to new ideas and the potential impact that language can have on society and individuals.

While „The A-B-C book“ may not be as widely known as some of Andersen’s other fairy tales, it showcases his ability to create imaginative stories that offer meaningful lessons and insights.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The A-B-C book“

„The A-B-C book“ by Hans Christian Andersen can be interpreted in various ways, touching on themes such as tradition versus innovation, the power of language, and the role of children’s literature in education.

Tradition vs. Innovation: The story presents the conflict between the old A-B-C Book, representing tradition, and the new A-B-C Book, representing innovation. The cock fiercely defends the old rhymes, believing that they hold value and should not be replaced by the new rhymes. This can be seen as a commentary on the struggle between maintaining traditions and embracing change or new ideas in society.

The Power of Language: The tale emphasizes the importance and power of language through the alphabet. The cock acknowledges the incredible potential of the alphabet to shape the world, depending on how the letters are arranged. This theme serves as a reminder of the responsibility that comes with creating and using language, as it can have profound effects on individuals and society.

Role of Children’s Literature in Education: The story raises questions about the appropriateness and effectiveness of children’s literature in education. The cock criticizes the new A-B-C Book’s rhymes for being too complex or unsuitable for children, suggesting that educational materials should be tailored to their target audience. This highlights the importance of creating content that is age-appropriate and accessible for children, ensuring that they can learn and grow from it.

Pride and Self-Importance: The cock’s pride and self-importance are also evident throughout the story. He takes it upon himself to defend the old A-B-C Book and criticize the new one, believing that his opinions hold great value. This can serve as a reminder that pride and self-importance can sometimes cloud one’s judgment and that it is essential to remain open to differing perspectives and ideas.

In conclusion, „The A-B-C book“ by Hans Christian Andersen offers various interpretations, touching on themes such as tradition, the power of language, the role of children’s literature in education, and the influence of pride and self-importance on one’s judgment.

Summary of the plot

„The A-B-C book“ by Hans Christian Andersen is a fairy tale that revolves around an old A-B-C Book and a new A-B-C Book created by a man who believes that the old rhymes are outdated. The old A-B-C Book takes offense at being placed next to the new one, and they both end up falling off the bookshelf. The old A-B-C Book opens to the first page, which contains the alphabet and a picture of a cock, the only living thing among the letters.

The cock, aware of the importance of the alphabet, flies out of the book and perches on a corner of the bookcase. From there, he speaks out against the new A-B-C Book, calling its rhymes worthless and inappropriate for children. He reads aloud each rhyme for the letters, critiquing them for being insipid, crude, or too complex for children to understand.

The cock crows proudly after finishing the new rhymes, stating that the new A-B-C Book will die because it lacks the charm and history of the old one. He returns to his place at the capital A in the old A-B-C Book and looks around proudly, convinced that the new A-B-C Book will never replace the old one.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
TranslationsDE, EN, DA, ES
Readability Index by Björnsson22.4
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index88
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level3.6
Gunning Fog Index6.3
Coleman–Liau Index7.4
SMOG Index7.9
Automated Readability Index2.4
Character Count7.148
Letter Count5.341
Sentence Count128
Word Count1.355
Average Words per Sentence10,59
Words with more than 6 letters160
Percentage of long words11.8%
Number of Syllables1.732
Average Syllables per Word1,28
Words with three Syllables84
Percentage Words with three Syllables6.2%
Questions, comments or experience reports?

Privacy policy.

The best fairy tales

Copyright © 2024 -   Imprint | Privacy policy |All rights reserved Powered by

Keine Internetverbindung

Sie sind nicht mit dem Internet verbunden. Bitte überprüfen Sie Ihre Netzwerkverbindung.

Versuchen Sie Folgendes:

  • 1. Prüfen Sie Ihr Netzwerkkabel, ihren Router oder Ihr Smartphone

  • 2. Aktivieren Sie ihre Mobile Daten -oder WLAN-Verbindung erneut

  • 3. Prüfen Sie das Signal an Ihrem Standort

  • 4. Führen Sie eine Netzwerkdiagnose durch