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The Nightingale Story for Kids ‒ Vintage Fairy Tale

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Have you ever heard the melodious song of the Nightingale bird? Isn’t it extremely beautiful and soothing? A Nightingale's melodious song can have a lasting effect. Read ‘The Nightingale’ story, a beautiful tale about friendship between the bird and Chinese Emperor with an unexpected ending. 

The Nightingale Story

A long time ago, there was an Emperor of China with the most beautiful palace in the world. It was laced with all the exquisite and prettiest things. Its huge garden extended to a forest with lakes and huge trees. It was in these trees that a nightingale lived.

The nightingale was famous for its ravishing song, not only among the people of the city but also among the travellers from different countries who came to the city of the Emperor. More than the exquisite Empire, they loved the nightingale’s song.

Chinese Emperor Hears about Nightingale

The poets from far lands also wrote poems in the glory of the nightingale. Some books, after travelling the entire world, reached the Emperor of China. He was impressed by the magnificent descriptions of his empire before he read, “The nightingale is the best of all.”

This confused the Emperor and he exclaimed, "I don't know of any nightingale! How is it possible that there is such a marvellous bird in my own garden I don’t know of?” He called his butler and asked about the nightingale, to which the butler replied, “I've never heard any bird mentioned as such. It has never been brought to the palace." 

The Emperor then furiously commanded the butler to bring him the nightingale “before this evening to sing.” 

The Search for Nightingale

The butler promised to look for the bird and ran through the entire palace, but no one had ever heard of the nightingale. Disappointed, he went back to the Emperor and claimed that the nightingale story in the books was fiction. "But the Emperor of Japan sent me the book, so it cannot lie," said the Emperor. Therefore, he insisted upon bringing the bird away and said, “If the royal command is not fulfilled, I will punish the entire palace after supper!"

Soon, everyone ran looking for the bird. Finally, the butler found a poor little girl in the kitchen who knew the nightingale. “Every evening I take the left-over meat to my poor sick mother and on my way back, sometimes I rest for a while in the woods. There I heard the nightingale sing,” she said. The butler then promised the girl a good job in the kitchen if she took them to the nightingale. 

Soon, almost half the court reached the forest where the nightingale usually sang. After some time, they heard a melodious song. ‘It is the nightingale!’ exclaimed the little girl, pointing to a little grey bird among the branches. The butler couldn’t believe that such a plain bird could sing so magnificently.

Courtiers Asking Nightingale to Accompany Them

Courtiers Asking Nightingale to Accompany Them

The kitchen girl called to the nightingale, “Our Emperor wishes to hear you sing.” “With great pleasure!” The butler then asked him to come with them to the palace to sing for the Emperor. The nightingale hesitated a bit and said “My song sounds best in the forest" but eventually accompanied them to the Emperor’s court.

Emperor Meets Nightingale 

The palace was decorated with utmost grandeur for the occasion. In the middle of the room sat the Emperor with a little golden rod placed beside him. The rod was for the nightingale. Everyone stared at the nightingale as it entered. Then with the Emperor’s nod, it started singing.

The nightingale’s singing left everyone stunned and tears came into the Emperor's eyes. The Emperor was so pleased by the bird that he said, “I shall reward you with my golden slippers!” The bird politely declined and said that the Emperor's happiness was his only reward.

The Emperor Listening to The Nightingale's Song

The Emperor Listening to The Nightingale's Song


The Emperor loved the bird’s song so much that he decided to keep it in his palace. Emperor offered the nightingale his own golden cage and twelve men at its service. The bird was given permission to go for a walk twice a day, and once a night. So, the nightingale sang day after day at the palace. Word spread and soon the whole world was talking about the bird. But the nightingale wasn’t really happy in the cage. It wanted to fly and sing in the woods.

Artificial Nightingale

One day, a large package arrived at the Emperor’s court labelled "The Nightingale." Inside the parcel was a bejewelled artificial nightingale, encrusted with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. It had a ribbon around its neck with the inscription: “The Emperor of Japan's nightingale is nothing compared to the Emperor of China’s."

The Artificial Nightingale

The Artificial Nightingale

So, when the real bird couldn’t sing, the artificial nightingale would sing a song without tiring, leaving everyone amazed. But it could sing only one song, unlike the real nightingale. The Emperor held a competition between the two, but till it was the real bird’s turn, it had already flown back to its home in the woods.

So, everyone started praising the bejewelled nightingale beyond measure for its song and appearance. It was placed on a pillow beside the Emperor. 

Goodbye Nightingale!

One day, the toy nightingale started making strange noises while singing, as something broke inside it. Suddenly, it stopped working. The Emperor immediately called the royal physician and the royal watchmaker. They examined the toy but all in vain. More noblemen were called but nobody was able to repair it!

Years passed, and sorrow befell the Empire. The Emperor became very sick and was on his deathbed. The nightingale, who was in the woods, heard of the sad news. The Emperor lay repenting for his sins and wishing the nightingale for one last song.

The Miracle!

One night, the nightingale flew through the Emperor’s window and sang one of its most beautiful songs. As the Emperor heard it, he grew well. The next morning, he asked the nightingale, “Thank you! Please always stay with me. You may sing whenever you want!”

The Real Nightingale Flying Through the Ill Emperor’s Window

The Real Nightingale Flying Through the Ill Emperor’s Window

The nightingale said, “I can’t build a nest in the palace. So, I will live in the forest and will come here to sing whenever I like.” The emperor happily agreed. 

Everyone was surprised to see the healthy Emperor that morning. He went on to rule China for many years and the nightingale sang to him whenever it liked. 

The Healthy Emperor and Free Nightingale

The Healthy Emperor and Free Nightingale

So, this is how the nightingale’s song pushed death away from its friend – the Emperor!

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FAQs on The Nightingale Story for Kids ‒ Vintage Fairy Tale

1. What is the moral of “The Nightingale” Story?

The story teaches that

  • True friends always remain with you no matter what.

  • True friends forgive each other.

  • Value others’ talents.

  • Let others be as they are.

2. Who is the author of “The Nightingale” story?

The story is written by the famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875). He is also the author of other popular fairy tales including The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Snow Queen, etc.