The Emperor's New Clothes

Once there was an emperor who needed a new set of clothes to wear in the grand parade. He called two of his finest cloth weavers to order one. They looked at each other and decided this would be a chance to make a little extra money from the deal. “Oh Emperor,” one said, “We have invented the...

B Barbara Gadon

A Thanksgrieving Reflection

I want to tell you about my bicycle. The frame is a sparkly kind of blue and it has pink handlebar tape. And guess what color the wheels are? Lime green! I love my bicycle. Now suppose this was your bicycle. And suppose one day you biked to school and totally forgot to lock your bike when you got...

I Isabel Call

The Smuggler

There are different versions of this Middle Eastern folktale; this version is just one way to tell it. You can find storytelling tips on WorshipWeb, but this story is also followed by suggestions about integrating this story into worship....

A Anonymous

Higgins: a Drop With a Dream

Once upon a time there was a drop of water named Higgins. Higgins was no ordinary drop of water. He was a drop with a dream. Higgins lived in a valley where it had not rained in a very long time, so all the lovely green grass was turning brown, all the beautiful flowers were wilting, and all the...

C Christopher Buice

John Haynes Holmes

John Haynes Holmes was born into a Unitarian family soon after the Civil War. He grew up just outside of Boston, and his father would take him to Unitarian churches in Boston every Sunday so that he would hear the best preaching the city had to offer. Holmes idolized his grandfather, John Haynes,...

P Paul Sprecher

David and Goliath

Once there was a little girl who worried about a very big problem—world hunger. She read in the newspaper about children all over the world who did not have enough to eat. She wanted to do something about it, but she was only a little girl and this was a giant problem. What could she possibly do...

C Christopher Buice

Boundless love and forgiveness

In Jewish tradition, the four chapters of the Book of Jonah are read aloud at Yom Kippur. Jonah is a minor prophet in the Hebrew Bible but he has a big message. Some of you may know his story. Jonah is sent by God to Nineveh to warn the people that if they do not change their ways they will be...

J Joanne Giannino

The Woman Who Outshone The Sun

The Woman Who Outshone the SunThe Legend of Lucia Zenteno Characters Narrator Lucia Zenteno (older child or adult) Iguana (small child) Water (several) Fish (several) Otters (several) Townspeople-elders and children (several) Props Long, flowing, bright skirt with pinned on flowers and butterflie...

N Nancy Jilk

T-ball Dog

I want to tell you about a T-ball game, a story credited to storyteller Bill Harley. If, like me, you grew up before T-ball, you'll need to know that it’s a game like softball, but with gentle rules for 5 to 8-year olds, kids just starting out in life. Now, the particular T-ball team Bill...

J John Parker Manwell

The Truth Crushed Down

Once upon a time there was a very greedy king who had lots and lots of gold. But he wanted even more gold, so he decided he would order his army to attack the neighboring kingdom and steal all their gold. The king called all his soldiers into his courtyard and told them his plan....

C Christopher Buice

Meditation on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

What can we say about Rudolph? He was excluded by other reindeer. They did not let him play with them. We may feel confident that they made fun of him and his red nose. It is possible that they hurt poor Rudolph. He was on the outside. The other reindeer had a special relationship with Santa Claus.

E Edward Harris

John Murray

There once was a person named John Murray. He lived in England, and worked as a minister there. The congregation to which he belonged took religion very seriously. They believed in life after death, but they thought that almost everyone was going to have a terrible, horrible time after they died.

K Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson


Noah was an old man who loved to dance and sing and to make things with his hands. He especially loved to make mud pies. Noah loved to do these things because he felt closest to the Creator when he was being creative himself. All the people in Noah’s village thought he was a fool. “Why do you...

C Christopher Buice

Sister Goose and the Foxes

Sister Goose swam in the pond, happy as could be. Now and then, she ducked her head down to nibble a little bit here, and nibble a little bit there. She took no more than her fill of those succulent underwater plants, for she knew that the pond belonged to everyone....

F Faye Mogensen

A Day At The Lawn

Once upon a time there was a girl named Wendy. She loved grass. What can I say? She loved grass—she loved the feel of it between her toes; she loved the smell of it when it was freshly mown; she loved its bright green color. Wendy loved grass more than just about anything. One day her family...

E Erik Walker Wikstrom

A Playful Mystery Play for Four Voices

Reader 1: Once upon a time Reader 2: A long time ago Reader 3: A very, very long time ago Reader 4: Like, before your parents were even born Reader 1: There was a Mystery. Reader 2: She was a great Mystery....

T Thomas Rhodes


Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Olympia who had a dream. She dreamed that one day she would grow up to be a minister. But during the 1800s, only men were ministers, so it didn’t seem likely that Olympia’s dream would come true. Olympia, however, continued to dream. Time passed,...

C Christopher Buice

The Shattering of the Vessels

A Free Retelling of the Shevirat haKeilim (from the Kabbalah) At the beginning of time, before anything else at all existed, Love was all there was, and it filled up everything in the whole universe. But Love got bored and lonely. There was no one to be in love with....

A Amy Petrie Shaw

The Great Pie-Rat Controversy

Once upon a time, there were these two pirates name of Calico Caesar and Barnacle Betty, and their parrots Flag and Sail. It was actually the parrots, which the pirates carried for good luck, who introduced these two pirates to one another. Because one day in Cayo Hueso (Key West), sitting on the...

N Naomi King

T'ai Chi: The Story of Its Beginning

There was a young man who grew up in China. Everyone said that he was so calm and peaceful, he should become a monk. Not wanting to displease his family and friends by telling the truth, the young man let them think he was indeed peaceful and calm. Inside, however, the young man was filled with...

D Denise Tracy


Once there was a little girl who was queen of an island. One day an advisor said to her, “Your majesty, the people on this island are good, but we must beware of the people on the next island for they are our enemies.” “Our enemies?” responded the queen, “How terrible!” “Yes, it is...

C Christopher Buice

A Blessing of Love and Wonder

It was getting dark and the weary travelers needed a place to sleep. It’s almost 70 miles between Nazareth and Bethlehem, and Joseph and Mary were making the long journey that was required of them in order to pay taxes to the Roman Empire. It was a long journey for everyone, but Mary was feeling...

L Lynn Gardner

Lemonade Adventure

Once there was and once there was not a town on the edge of the swamp in the sultry summer weather of far south Florida, between the alligators and the ocean. In this town there were two amazing friends, Sam and Joseph. They were a lot alike. They liked the same foods. They liked the same books.

N Naomi King

A play about King John Sigismund, the only Unitarian king

By Jan Gartner, adapted from the story, A Unitarian King, in A Lamp in Every Corner: A Unitarian Universalist Storybook, by Janeen K Grohsmeyer. Written as a no-rehearsal skit for middle-elementary worship or classroom use. NARRATOR Our story takes place in the mid-1500's, in the country of Hungary.

J Jan Gartner

Two Frogs

Once, two frogs were hopping through the forest when they accidently hopped into a big churn of cream. The sides of the churn were so slick and slippery that there was no place to hold on to, so the frogs had to swim in circles to stay afloat. After a long time one frog said, “There is no hope.

C Christopher Buice

Remembering Jesus: an Easter Story

At sundown on Saturday, the Sabbath finally over, Mary Magdalene and the other women who loved Jesus began to prepare spices to pour over his body to honor him and say a final farewell. They were up all night, cooking and talking, and remembering his life....

M Mandie McGlynn

Thankful Dogs: A Story for All Ages

Once there was and once there was not a family of dogs. Like many dog families, there were dogs that had wandered off the street and dogs with fine pedigrees and dogs from the shelter and dogs who had been born into the family. They ran together. They played together....

N Naomi King

Super Tiny

Once, there was a little girl named Amanda who loved to help other people. She helped her Papa David and Papi Caesar to clean the house, she raked up the leaves in her neighbor Jim’s yard when he was in pain and couldn’t do it himself, and she tutored her friend Sara in Math. So, when it came...

S Sunshine Jeremiah Wolfe

The Good Samaritan

One day a merchant was traveling on a road when he was attacked by bandits. The bandits were so cruel that they beat the merchant, stole everything he had, and left him for dead lying on the side of the road. The merchant was so badly hurt he couldn’t move or speak at all, and he could barely see...

C Christopher Buice

Whose Reality Is It Anyway?

It was not a city. It was not a large town. But it was not a small town. It was—just average, you might say. Except for one thing. There was a Storyteller in the town. That’s Storyteller with a capital S. The Storyteller had arrived one day without advance notice (or as some people would put it,...

O Orlanda R Brugnola

Animal School

This is a fable you can use as is, or adapt for your needs — embellish it and perform it with lots of dramatic emphasis — the underlined words almost always get a laugh — adults really like the story too. The story was loosely adapted from a story that George Reavis wrote when he was the...

D Devorah Greenstein

The Beauty Contest

Once upon a time in a little village, there appeared a sign that said: Beauty Contest to be held this Saturday at the fair grounds. There will be a surprise guest judge. All the young girls in the village were very excited about being in a beauty contest, and they began to prepare for the big day.

C Christopher Buice

Amelia and Her Super Magical Powers

This is the story of a young girl named Amelia. Amelia was fascinated by tales of people with super powers, like Wonder Woman, or magic like Harry Potter. She yearned to have powers like that so she could help people. Like the boy she often saw sitting all alone at lunch, looking very sad....

G Gail Sphar

Marmalade [A story about reconciliation]

Whitman Jones had just turned nine. That was good. But he was going to a new school in a new town, and that was bad. In his old school he knew everyon—they had been in classes with him for years. In this new school he didn’t know one single person. Not only that, the first day didn’t go well...

O Orlanda R Brugnola

Noelle and the Really Big Boat

A tale of salvation, ecology, and sharing. Characters Narrator Noelle Voice in a dream Noelle’s sisters Jane, Rain, and Elaine Friendly farmer(s) Ship builder(s) Numerous animals: dogs, cats, mice, cows, horses, frogs, etc. Act 1 (Noelle at center stage, sitting, covered in blanket and appearing...

C Christian Schmidt


Once upon a time, a mother and her daughter were carrying bags of food to a neighboring village where people were hungry and had no food of their own. The two had to travel a great distance, which made them very tired, so they stopped to rest. As they sat down they heard a voice call out to them.

C Christopher Buice

The Best Christmas Ever

It was December. I was in a new school in a new place and there were new teachers and new classmates. And we were living in a new house too. Also there was no snow in Florida. That was a lot of new things at once. I didn’t like it. At least I had my bicycle—it was my old bicycle so it wasn’t...

O Orlanda R Brugnola

Who Loves the Dark?

There once was a child who got lost in the woods. As night began to descend, the child became more and more frightened. I’m sure any of us would be frightened too, in that situation, but what made this child even more frightened, was that he had always been afraid of the dark. He was more afraid...

S Sheri Phillabaum

The Cure

Once upon a time there was a young girl named Maggie, who found out she had a very terrible disease and probably would never be well again. She was very, very sad, and although she had many friends, all of them were afraid to visit her because they feared they might catch the disease....

C Christopher Buice


an original retelling Daedalus was a brilliant inventor, and he had made a career, even a legend of himself for being able to create the seemingly impossible. So when he decided to escape from his tower prison by flying over the ocean like a bird, his son, Icarus, had no doubt he would do it. It...

E Erica Shadowsong

A Winter Speech Choir

George: This is Angel Gabriel of KGOD airwaves, coming to you live from the downtown mall in Bethlehem. The air is positively solar as frenzied shoppers scurry from store to store, their camels and donkeys weighted down with purchases. The beasts bawl. There are only, count ‘em and weep shoppers,...

L Lois Van Leer

Wake Up to Injustice

This story was created collaboratively by several religious educators. As you prepare to share it, read the 1966 Ware Lecture "Don't Sleep Through the Revolution," by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly in Hollywood, Florida, May 18, 1966.

G Gail Forsyth-Vail

The Frog Prince

There once was a little girl who was walking beside a creek when she happened to see a frog that looked very sad. “I wonder why that frog is so sad?” she asked herself. Then she remembered a story once told by her mother about how a girl had kissed a frog and how the frog had magically turned...

C Christopher Buice

Sustaining the Tree of Life

The tree stood in the middle of the village. Its trunk was so large that it took six people holding hands to reach around it. The roots were strong and wide, and its branches spread out over the village square, offering shelter from the rain, or shade from the summer sun....

L Lynn Gardner

Give Yourself (a story about Ralph Waldo Emerson)

"What do you want for your birthday?" the father asked his daughter. "Do you want a doll?" She wrinkled her nose and scrunched her eyes and thought. "No." "A tea set?" "A pony?" "No, Father, I have a year to think. I want this year to be a special year, to remember." "All right....

D Denise Tracy

Faith Is Like A Walking Stick

How many of you like to go hiking? I have a number of walks nearby that I like. Hunger Mountain, Snake Mountain and others. Or if we don’t want to drive, my wife and I just go down to our local park where in just a few steps you can forget you’re in the city. Sometimes we bring our dog Smokey...

G Gary Kowalski

Daniel in the Lion's Den

There once was a man named Daniel who was as gentle as a lamb. The King loved Daniel so much that he gave him power over the entire kingdom. But this made many men jealous of Daniel. One day, when the men happened to see him praying to God, they thought of a way to hurt Daniel....

C Christopher Buice

Tiny the God

Once upon a time there was a tiny, little, itty bitty, very small, tiny little god named Tiny. She lived her life hearing stories of all the big gods and, well, let’s face it, she was jealous. She knew she needed to think of some kind of special spark of an idea that would make her existence...

B Becky Brooks

Someone for Peace (a story about Emily Greene Balch)

"You want to do what?" her friend said. "But you can’t, you can’t, what difference could you make. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard!" "But if someone doesn’t do something, how many more people will be killed, maimed or starve to death because of the war?" Emily answered. "But two...

D Denise Tracy