Great Allegories for Kids And Discussion Questions to Ask Kids About Allegory

An allegory is a story in which the characters, events, or places have a deeper meaning. There is a story happening on the surface. But if you explore further, you can find the symbolism woven throughout.

I love to use allegories as read alouds with my kids because they provide so much opportunity for really great discussions. If you think about, the parables that Jesus often used in teaching people were a type of allegory. He would tell a story with characters and situations that his listeners could relate to. But the story had deeper meanings if the listeners would stop and think about them.

Here are just a few great allegories to read aloud with the kids, including a "hidden gem" that we discovered through our primary curriculum. I'm also sharing some questions that you can use when you discuss allegories with the kids.

Allegories for Kids

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Allegories for Kids

The Chronicles of Narnia- One of my favorite read alouds of all time. I typically read through the seven books to some or all of the kids every couple of years. The relationship that the Pevensie children have with Aslan and the experiences that they have in Narnia parallel many parts of the Christian walk.

Aesop's Fables- Many of these classic fables are allegories. You can explore how the characters in the fables act or react to the situations at hand and draw parallels from real life.

Dr. Suess- The full length books written by Dr. Suess are almost all allegorical. Yertle the Turtle- written during WW2- is a look at a king who wanted to become more and more powerful. Sounds like Adolf Hitler, hmm? The Lorax is a look at pollution and caring for the environment. The Sneetches points out how foolish racism is and how harmful it can become.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is a beautiful allegory that depicts giving and self-sacrifice through the story of a tree and little boy.

The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan is one of the most famous allegories of all time. Following the journey of Christian to the Celestial City, the book parallels the Christian life. The original Pilgrim's Progress can be difficult reading, but we've read Little Pilgrim's Progress, an adaptation by Helen Taylor, several times.

The Giver by Lois Lowry is an allegory that brings up some good discussion about individualism versus being submersed in the collective thoughts of the society. There are actually four books in The Giver series. In two of them, it's difficult to see how the books tie together, but the final book does help it all to make sense. We've mostly focused on reading the first book- The Giver.

The Kingdom Tales Trilogy

A few years ago, as part of our My Father's World Countries and Cultures package, we received Kingdom Tales by David and Karen Mains. What we received as one book is originally a trilogy of allegorical books- Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration.

The books are allegorical stories, although not exact allegories. Tales of the Kingdom takes place when Enchanted City is under the rule of the evil Enchanter and only in Great Park can the people of the Kingdom be safe and free as they celebrate with the true King. Tales of the Resistance focuses on those in Enchanted City who are covertly working for the King and the Kingdom, leading some in Enchanted to be residents of Great Park. In Tales of the Restoration, the spell of the evil Enchanter has been broken through the sacrifice of the King. The city- now called Bright City- is slowly being transformed into a place where all will one day celebrate with the King.

I began reading the trilogy aloud to just the younger girls. We loved the book from the start. Each chapter- though all are tied together- is a separate tale, short enough to be read in one sitting.

Before I had reached the end of the first part of the trilogy, the book had moved to be the one we read at lunch time when all the kids are listening. After we had finished reading the series aloud together and I was talking about what we would read aloud next. I was surprised when the older kids- Charles particularly- was rather insistent that we needed to go back through the trilogy. His reasoning: the older kids hadn't heard most of the first book. And so we started over at the beginning.

The Kingdom Tales definitely turned out to be a "hidden gem" for us. It was a series I had never heard of. But the stories are very interesting. Because each chapter has a complete story, it's great for reading aloud. And the allegorical meanings and symbols offered some great opportunities for discussion.

Questions to Use When You're Discussing Allegories

I've definitely learned over my years as a homeschool mom to jump on anything great that interests the kids and ride it out. And an allegorical book that is rich in truth is one that I want to hold on to as long as I can. As long as it holds their interest, an allegory provokes excellent discussions. There are a few questions I've learned to use for good discussion when we read allegorical novels, or even partly allegorical novels (like the Chronicles of Narnia). I've also given a few examples of our discussion of The Kingdom Tales.

What does this represent? 

That's the first and basic question of an allegory. Sometimes there isn't just one right answer. Sometimes there are various things the author could have been thinking about. Discuss all possible answers.

Do you think it's a good representation? 

Why or why not? I love talking about the symbolism the author uses and whether or not we think it's a good representation or not. For instance, in the first book of the Kingdom Tales, there's a story of Princess Amanda and a dragon. The dragon is a representative of sin in some very obvious ways. We had a good time talking about that representation and how well it fit and why.

Is the illustration too obvious? 

The one complaint we've had about a few of the stories in the Kingdom Tales is the rather obvious names the authors sometimes give the characters. The kids find some of them humorous and wish they hadn't been such silly and obvious names.

What does this story make you, personally, think of? 

One of the greatest things about these allegorical tales is the implications we can draw for our own lives. Today's tale- one I've read before- was about a juggler learning to juggle to the rhythm of his own unique count. We've had one child that we've talked to quite often lately about being different. Is it okay to be different? Why are you worried about not being like everyone else? Standing out isn't something teenagers often want to do. But when I read this tale today, I got chills just thinking about the fact that our King doesn't want us to blend in. He wants us to juggle to our own rhythm. It just made me want to shout "Amen!" in the midst of our read aloud.

Discussion Questions for Allegories

Allegory can make for an awesome read aloud experience. I encourage you to pick up The Kingdom Tales trilogy no matter the age of your kids. It's rich in meaning and an entertaining read. Then try a few other allegories and have some great discussions with your kids.

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