The Story of Ferdinand is an all-time classic children’s story.

The book is about the gentle nature of Ferdinand the Bull who prefers to smell flowers and sit under the shade of a cork tree than fight matadors.

I really love reading this book because it is so well written. The words and ideas in the book are wonderfully simple, and easy for children to follow. The beautiful illustrations evoke an old world picture of traditional Spain.

One of the most important reasons why this book has stood the test of time is because it is a story about pacifism – how a bull selected for the bullfights in Madrid ‘wouldn’t fight and be fierce no matter what they did’.

Tips for parents reading this book

The Story of Ferdinand provides a great many opportunities for discussion with your child. For example:

  • Take time to discuss different illustrations with your child. You can talk about how bulls have horns, bees have stripes, men wearing funny hats, the pomp and ceremony of a bullfight and the silly costumes of the matadors.
  • The book presents many emotions that can be discussed. You can talk to your child about how Ferdinand likes to sit alone under the shade of a tree. Or you can talk about Ferdinand being stung by a bee and why he’d jump around after being stung. There’s also the scene where Ferdinand shyly enters the bullring.
  • Another great theme to discuss is how it is okay to be different. Ferdinand likes to smell flowers and play on his own rather than ‘run and jump and butt their heads’ like other little bulls.

About the author

Munro Leaf is an American children’s author who wrote The Story of Ferdinand in 1936. The book was considered somewhat controversial because it was a book about peace that was published just prior to the Spanish civil war.

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