Symbols in Literature: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 Symbols
  • 0:25 Common Symbols
  • 1:14 Examples of Symbols
  • 3:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tawnya Eash

Tawnya has a master's degree in early childhood education and teaches all subjects at an elementary school.

In this lesson, we're going to take a look at different objects and what they remind us of. You'll see examples of various symbols in literature and learn what they mean.


What do you think when you see the American flag? You may think of the United States of America. However, if you think about the flag as a symbol, it can mean more.

Symbols are objects that stand for more than just themselves. They can even represent feelings or thoughts. For example, seeing the American flag might make you feel pride for your country. You could think of having freedom in America.

Common Symbols

Common symbols used in literature include colors, animals, seasons, and weather. Let's have a look at the chart of symbols to see what each object represents.

Symbol Meaning
Color - White Innocence, peace
Color - Green Envy
Color - Black Mystery, death
Color - Blue Calm
Heart Love
Key Answer, solution to a problem
Fire Knowledge, passion
Dove Peace
Eagle Freedom
Snake Evil
Owl Wisdom
Spring Beginning, birth
Flowers Beauty, calm
Wind/storms Anger, trouble
Fox Cleverness, sneakiness

The next time you read a story, pay close attention to symbols to help you understand more about what you're reading.

Examples of Symbols

Authors like to use symbols instead of directly telling you everything you need to know. When you figure out hidden information, it makes you a better reader. Let's look at a couple of examples.

Our first story is one of Aesop's Fables, a tale called ''The Fox and the Stork.''

In the story, Fox has Stork over for dinner to play a trick on him. Fox made soup but placed it on a flattened dish. Stork's long beak made it nearly impossible to eat the soup. Fox enjoyed lapping it up. Although Stork was not pleased with this trickery, he did not make an outburst. He stayed under control and surprised Fox with an invitation to dinner.

At his dinner, Stork made fish and placed it in a tall, thin jar. Only Stork's beak could fit through the jar. Fox could only smell the delightful scents and lick the jar. This made Fox mad! Stork calmly replied: ''Don't play tricks on your neighbors unless you can take being tricked yourself.''

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