Fairytale Basics: Humpty Dumpty

To be fair, Humpty Dumpty is a nursery rhyme, but we’re going to lump him in with the Fairytales because he was specifically requested by the first grade students. It’s not much of a story, is it?


There are “basic” versions of the story, but they often elaborate beyond this basic verse.  A few examples would be the one by Daniel Kirk and Kim Eagle.

If you are really looking for a fun story that adds to or parodies Humpty, you’re going to want to try one of these:

I have What Really Happened to Humpty? at my school.  It’s a longer story that I wouldn’t use as a read-aloud with first grade.  It’s good though, taking Humpty’s hard-boiled detective brother through the land of nursery rhymes like Miss Muffet, the Three Little Pigs and Chicken Little to find the answer to who pushed Humpty. I think an older kid reading the story would love it. I borrowed Dan Santat’s After the Fall from another school and loved it. Humpty has his big fall and then grounds himself in the name of safety.  But if you have to give up the thing you love best, life isn’t nearly as fun.  Humpty finds a new hobby, paper airplanes that allow him to feel the wind on his face again. My favorite of the stories above is definitely Dave Horowitz’s Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again. After he falls, Humpty enters a funk.  Again, he has had to give up what he loves best.  His friends try to help him but he won’t listen to the spoon (who runs off with a dish). Eventually, Humpty’s courage returns when he is needed to save the day. The kids are going to love this one.  Look at the cover — he’s climbing in his underwear, the kids will laugh just like that little dog did to see such fun…

As you can guess, the story I’m excited to read to the kids has a fair amount of Nursery Rhyme references in it.  I decided to meet those references head-on and pre-read a few nursery rhymes with them.  Most of the kids were familiar with the ones we read, and we covered everything in my book that I was familiar with. The nursery rhymes you and I learned as pre-schoolers, from story books and even cartoons, are just not as common today.  There were some sullen kids who were sure they’d heard them all before, but by the end, they were enjoying my lesson.

By the way, I’m sure you’ve heard people ask where in the rhyme does it ever say that he was an egg?? Well, there is a theory that at one time it was a riddle, and the egg was the answer. Another theory says that it is about an English king who’s army could not stop him from falling from power.  Whatever the true origins are, kids know who Humpty is almost as soon as they see the egg with the face on it.

Oh, and he has a little sister:



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