The Rainbow Fish book for kids
Written & Illustrated by Marcus Pfister

This classic fish book for kids has been an all-time favorite for the past thirty years!  If you grew up with Rainbow Fish, you are sure to remember his shiny scales!

It's his selfish attitude that teaches a wonderful lesson in sharing and friendship though which can impact a child's life and development.

A Summary: The Rainbow Fish book for kids

It begins...

A long way out in the deep blue sea there lived a fish. 

Not just an ordinary fish, but the most beautiful fish in the entire ocean.

His scales were every shade of blue and green and purple, with

sparkling silver scales among them.

The other fish were amazed at his beauty. 

They called him Rainbow Fish.

Rainbow Fish enjoys the attention and admiration his silvery scales give him among the other fish, but when a small fish makes a request for one, Rainbow Fish refuses.  His rudeness causes the other fish to swim away and no longer follow after him.  Instead of being the most beautiful fish in the ocean, he becomes the loneliest.

He seeks advice from a wise octopus.  She shares that the key to true happiness begins by giving away his glittering scales.

Rainbow fish struggles with the choice of being happy or keeping his shiny scales for himself.  He begins by giving one very, very small shimmering scale away thinking he wouldn't miss just one.  Giving away the one leads to a wonderful feeling though causing Rainbow Fish to continue giving away his special scales until he was left with just one.

Having shared his scales with the other fish, he soon felt at home with what was now a wonderful group of friends all together in the ocean.

Book Conversations

Learning from the Text & Illustrations

  • Fine Motor Skills & Differentiating - Toddlers will love pointing out the shimmering scales!  This helps their skills in differentiating as well as fine motor skills.
  • Color recognition -  The text in this fish book for kids mentions "his scales were every shade of blue and green and purple."  Have kids locate these by color.
  • Increase Vocabulary - Listening Vocabulary prepares children for reading.  The Rainbow Fish book for kids offers a wonderful variety of words which a child may not normally hear in everyday conversation such as:  entire, shimmer, scales, upset, shocked, admire, dazzling, and so many more.
  • Read Together - The Rainbow Fish also includes a great many sight words which can be pointed out to beginning readers.  You may want to read the story to them first and then go back and allow them to read as many words as they can.  
  • Teach Reading - Use the recurrence of words in The Rainbow Fish book for kids to learn to read!  For example:  Point out the word "fish" on the cover; point to each letter making the individual sounds and then blend them together.  Have your child do the same.  Then as you read the book, allow them to read the word "fish" each time they recognize it.  In the next reading include another recurring word such as rainbow or scales.  Find smaller words to also "sound out" like he, him, his, and, etc.  Even very young children need to make the connection that the words on the page translate into the words they hear.

Make the Most of the Message

Emotional & Social Lessons

The Rainbow Fish book for kids touches on several emotional development areas including loneliness.  A child may wonder why they don't have friends; this book can give examples of how to reach out and make a friend.  Some children also struggle with pride and selfishness. 

Reading a picture book together is a gentle way for a child to see his or her own need for a change in behavior and attitude.  It also gives you an example to remind them such as saying, "Remember how Rainbow Fish felt when he shared?", etc.

The Rainbow Fish book for kids can be used to remind them how Rainbow Fish shared and it made him and everyone else happier.

Spiritual Development

The Bible speaks a great deal about the benefits of giving and warnings about pride.  Rainbow Fish truly learned the lesson that it is better to give than to receive.  He learned that selfishness did not end in happiness.

Acts 20:35 - "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

God is a generous Father Who shares so much with us; He even gave His Son, Jesus, for us!  All we have really belongs to Him, and it pleases Him when we share with others.  God's economy is different from the world's.  God says it's better to give than receive.  He also says the way to greatness is by serving others in Mark 10:35-45.

"Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do us a favor.” “What is your request?” he asked.  They replied, “When you sit on your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”  But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?” “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!” Then Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup and be baptized with my baptism of suffering. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.” When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Rainbow Fish learned that his pride of wanting to be the best or be first in the eyes of others did not bring happiness or friends.  It actually stirred up jealousy which led to his loneliness.  

We are at our best when we share and put others before ourselves.  In this way we build community and friendship with others.  This is an important lesson for any age.

The Rainbow Fish book for kids emphasizes the Golden Rule found in Matthew 7:12 - 

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

Fish Book for Kids - Extensions

ART -  Rainbow Fish Sharing

Use this Rainbow Fish coloring page for kids to color or paint.  Have them share a certain number of crayons or paints.  Give one child a piece of tin foil; when other kids ask for a "shimmering scale" have them tear a small piece off to share.  Children can then glue the shiny scale to their own fish.

Facial Expression Sharing Game

Have kids sit in a circle.  The teacher or adult can begin the first round by "passing a smile."  Smile at the child on your left, then they smile to the person on their left each "passing the smile" until it reaches the end of the circle.

Ask how the little fish may have felt when Rainbow Fish would not share.  He felt sad.  Have the next person "pass a frown" around the circle as you did in the first round.

Continue with other expressions like - surprise, anger, excited, worried, etc.

If it's just the two of you, share expressions back and forth like looking into a mirror.