The Rainbow Fish

by Marcus Pfister (North-South Books New York 1992)

peace with ourselves-peace with each other-peace with the environment

recommended and still available - maybe a copy in your local library


Rainbow Fish had many brightly coloured scales but he was unwilling to share them. He became the loneliest fish in the ocean as no-one wanted to be around him because he was so selfish.  A visit with a wise octopus changed his thinking. This simple but amazing tale is for all ages to enjoy and share together and contains many peace-building elements:

  • happy endings

  • everyone winning

  • nonviolent resolution

  • imaginative and creative

  •     challenges existing stereotyping

  •     faith and hope

  • peace with the environment

  • finding personal peace

  • element that supports the idea that peace is possible

Rainbow Fish reluctantly began sharing his scales but he soon realised the ocean was becoming filled with beautiful fish like himself wearing beautiful scales and he felt very happy. The other fish now included him and he was no longer alone.

The message in this story can remind us of the importance of sharing Earth's resources and that happiness and selfishness cannot truly co-exist.

Critical questions to explore with children 

  • Why was the Rainbow Fish not an ordinary fish?
  • Did he want to share anything that he possessed? 
  • Why do you think the other fish did not want to play with him?
  • Do you think the wise octopus gave the Rainbow Fish good advice?
  • Why do you think the Rainbow Fish's scales were his most prized possessions?
  • Why do you think the other fish wanted to have one of Rainbow Fish's scales?
  • Does the story have a happy win-win ending?

Creative questions to explore with children

  • What other suggestions do you think the wise octopus could have made to the Rainbow Fish?
  • Why did the Rainbow Fish want to be beautiful? What advantage would this have given him in relation to the other fish in the ocean?
  • To have friends do you need to be willing to share your things with them?
  • Should the Rainbow Fish have given every one of his scales away?
  • What else could the Rainbow Fish have shared with his friends?
  • How else could the story have ended with win-win?

Teaching and Learning for Peace Foundation January 2007

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