Allegory Lesson for Kids: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Have you ever learned a lesson from reading a story? Well, that story might have been an allegory! Come and learn about what an allegory is and try out a few examples on your own.

Reading Between the Lines

Think about the story 'The Three Little Pigs.' Each pig builds a house out of different materials: straw, sticks and bricks. The pig who spends the most time building his house and makes his out of bricks is the only pig that does not get eaten by the wolf. Did you know this is actually an allegory?

An allegory is a poem, story or picture that has a hidden meaning. It's like one really long metaphor, which is phrase that literally says one thing but means something else, like ''It's raining cats and dogs,'' which means to say that it's raining an extreme amount! While a metaphor is a short phrase, an allegory is a longer story.

So what about 'The Three Little Pigs'? This could be an allegory that teaches us a lesson: that projects that take time and effort pay off in the end.

What can you learn from The Three Little Pigs?

Why Do Authors Use Allegory?

Stories with allegories often teach a lesson about life. They might include a moral, which is a lesson about right and wrong. Other times, the hidden meaning is the author's beliefs about politics, religion or society. Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss are children's authors who use political allegory in their stories.

For example, in 'The Lorax' by Dr. Seuss, a boy learns about how the Lorax used to live in a beautiful valley filled with Truffula trees until a Thneed factory took over and killed all the trees. However, these events really represent real-life companies that will do anything for money and how they have destroyed places on planet Earth. In this story, Dr. Seuss shows his beliefs through allegory, by using events and characters that represent something different.

Examples of Allegory

Now it's your turn! Read the summaries of two famous stories and see if you can identify the allegorical message.

'The Sneetches'

'The Sneetches' is another story by Dr. Seuss. It describes creatures called sneetches, the Star-Belly Sneetches and the Plain-Belly Sneetches. The sneetches with stars on their bellies think they are much better than the sneetches without stars, and they won't play games with them or even talk to or look at the plain sneetches!

What do you think this could mean?

The Sneetches

The story shows us that it's really silly that the Star-Belly Sneetches don't like the Plain-Belly Sneetches. However, the allegorical meaning here is about racism and how ridiculous it is to think that one race is better than another.

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