Read-Aloud Story for Grades 2-6: Courage to Fear

Introduction: Coyote is up to his old tricks again. He brags and bullies Eagle and Bear. He’s on his way to bully Wolf when he gets caught in a hunger’s snare. Discover what happens to him next.

This story was written back in 2006 by the new-deceased Terry Gardner. He was a clinical social worker all the way up to the time of his death. He also was a published author. This Four Directions story, as he called them, is shared in his memory and with permission of his widow, Lin Gardner.

Courage to Fear

© 2006 by Terry & Lin Gardner; Re-told and re-formatted with the permission of his widow, Lin Gardner, by Debbie Dunn

Ellen Eagle soared and swooped around her favorite patch of sky above the woods. She noticed Carl Coyote running around in circles far below. She asked herself, “Now, what is Coyote up to?”

Eagle majestically wide-spiraled lower and lower until she reached hearing distance to Coyote. She screeched, “Coyote, what are you doing?”

Coyote called to her, “I’m dancing. You can’t dance like me. You can’t run like me. You can’t leap like me. I’m so much better than you.”

Eagle sighed to herself and said to herself, “Coyote is back to trying to bully again.” Eagle screeched to Coyote, “You’re right. I can’t do any of those things.”

Coyote let out a yip of triumph and yelled, “I told you I’m better than you. You just told me I’m right!”

Eagle snapped, “That is your belief.”

Coyote yawned widely and said, “Boring! You’re so boring. I won’t even bother calling you names. That’s not worth the trouble.”

Eagle and Coyote stared at each other until they heard the crackle and snap of branches and twigs from the nearby woods.

Coyote broke out in a cackle of coyote laughter. He doubled over laughing so hard he could not talk for five minutes.

Coyote settled down enough to yell, “Well, well, there’s Sneaky Sam. Some call him Ben Bear.”

Coyote bent over again and belly-laughed, “HA, HA, HA! That’s a good one. Bear is now Sneaky Sam. Can you imagine Bear trying to sneak anywhere? Bear is SO clumsy.”

Ben Bear’s muzzle appeared from the brush and his head moved from side-to-side. He saw Coyote and Eagle. He said to Coyote, “Coyote, I heard all that. Why do you say such awful things about me?”

Coyote’s lips parted and he stuck out his tongue at Bear. Coyote answered, “Bear, I didn’t say anything awful about you. I just told the truth. You COULD not be sneaky. You are clumsy. You can’t move fast. You just stumble and bumble through the woods.”

Bear’s face fell, and he looked very sad. He felt worse and worse and finally began to cry.

Coyote’s face broke into a huge grin. He called to Bear, “You’re even worse than I thought. You’re clumsy, a cry baby, a stumbler, and a bumbler. No wonder you have no friends.”

Bear sat down on a log and broke down into loud sobs. His shoulders heaved as he cried so hard. He only managed to shake his head and say between sobs, “NO, NO, NO. I’m none of those things.”

Coyote’s next words made Bear feel like he had been hit hard; plus, they got him feeling all confused. Coyote said, “But Bear, you told us those things yourself. You can’t face your own truth.”

Bear slammed his front paws over his ears and rose to his hind legs. He ran to the woods calling, “NO! NO! NO! I can’t listen to you anymore, Coyote.”

Coyote broke out into a flood of laughter, “HA! HA! HA! Look at that, Eagle. I chased off a big bear. Little me chasing off a HUGE bear who thinks he’s so tough. Bear is a baby. Yeah, BEAR is a baby! What do you think?”

Eagle coldly snapped, “I refuse to talk to you. The more I talk to you, the more doors you have for trying to abuse me. I won’t allow it.”

“I won’t allow it. I won’t allow it.” taunted Coyote. “What a stupid thing to say.”

Eagle said nothing more but simply spread her wings and caught a breeze updraft. She slightly flapped her wings and helped herself aloft. She gave a stern look at Coyote and said, “You need someone to bully to feel good about yourself. You don’t have me. I’m out of here.”

Eagle immediately powerfully swept the updraft three times and swiftly shot far out of voice-range.

Coyote look puzzled and said to himself, “I wonder what Eagle meant about feeling good about myself? Hey, it doesn’t matter! I just need to help Eagle and Bear know what they really are.”

Coyote ran around some more circles and thought hard as he ran. He finally got tired and sat on the same log as Bear.

Coyote said to himself, “I’m alone again. That doesn’t feel very good. What can I do to make myself feel better?”

Coyote thought harder and harder. His brow furrowed and his face scrunched as he thought so hard. His face finally broke into a wide grin, and he loudly yipped a triumphant note. He yelled to himself, “I know! I’ll go see my cousin, Wendy Wolf. I know she has some things she needs to know about herself.”

Coyote stood up and started to walk toward the main trail. He didn’t see the thin wire across the trail. Coyote stepped on the wire. Suddenly, Coyote heard a loud TWANG!

Coyote felt himself snapped off his feet and hurtled into the air. He spun round and round a small tree next to the trail.

Coyote let out a yelp of fear, “HELP! HELP! HELP!”

Coyote found himself spinning around and around the small tree. He gradually slowed down and came to a stop. He hung upside down six feet from the ground. Coyote carefully felt all his legs and his body. He found everything okay except a long rope was tied to his leg and to the top of the tree.

Coyote struggled and struggled. The more he struggled, the tighter the rope held him to the tree. Coyote loudly yelled, “HELP! HELP! HELP!”

Coyote’s struggles soon tired him. He hung limply from the tree branch until he saw two figures approach him. He screamed in terror using coyote language, “I’m DEAD!! I’m DEAD!!! HELP! HELP! HELP!” Coyote’s screams rang through the forest.

One of the figures took shape through the brush and approached Coyote. He said to his partner, “Hey, Jake. Our trap worked really good. This one, here, is a great specimen.”

Jake answered, “Yeah. Hey, Billy Joe. What do you think we should do with him?” Those city guys will pay a great price either for his hide or to get him stuffed.”

Jake then said, “I don’t quite know what to do with him myself. Let’s sit down here on this log and figure this one out.”

Billy Joe sat down next to Jake and stared at Coyote. He sized up Coyote’s size and the condition of his fur. He commented, “Maybe we could get even more if one of those zoo places buys him.”

Jake scratched his head and stared at Coyote. He answered his partner, “I reckon we could get quite a few dollars, but how would we get him somewhere without hurting him or us?”

Jake never had a chance to hear Billy Joe’s answer because suddenly both men heard an ear-splitting roar from the edge of the forest only forty feet away. Both men looked up in amazed terror as they saw a HUGE brown bear charging them. Ben Bear was after them!

They dropped their rifles and began sprinting in the opposite direction. They never heard the loud screech of plummeting Eagle. Eagle pulled out of her death-dealing dive just in time to snatch the hat off Jake. Her talons ripped through the hat and tore it to shreds. Eagle swiftly rose to hunting-elevation and plummeted toward Billy Joe. She braked just in time to allow her sharp talons to dig deep into his hair. He screamed and clamped his hands to his head. He yelled, “My wig, my wig! Help! That eagle has my wig!”

The two hunters tore up the path. They never heard the panting of the huge Wolf closing the distance to them. Billy Joe heard a growl and then felt a cold draft through his pants. He looked back and saw Wolf holding a huge piece of the rear end of his pants in her mouth. She dropped the piece and loped toward Jake.

Jake saw Billy Joe’s fate and ran even faster. He never saw Bear right in front of him. BOOM and BANG!!! Bear faced the opposite way and Jake ran right into Bear’s rear end. Jake dropped to the ground and was out cold.

Billy Joe screamed again and threw Jake over his shoulders. He ran as fast as he could up the trail. Bear and Wolf followed Billy Joe’s heels and Eagle flew slightly over Billy Joe’s head. They didn’t stop following Billy Joe until he reached his SUV and threw Jake into it.

Billy Joe slammed his door shut and punched the gas pedal to the floor. The SUV threw dirt as it hurtled down the road.

Ben Bear grinned and said, “I don’t think we’ll see those two again for a LONG time.”

Wendy Wolf and Eagle laughed. Eagle said, “Right. I suppose we’d better get back to Coyote. I can hear him way up here. I’ll fly ahead and tell him you’re coming. I’ll also pick apart the rope holding him in the tree.”

Wolf and Bear loped up the trail to Coyote’s tree. He was sitting on the ground rubbing his backside and checking his four legs.

Bear spoke first, “Coyote, are you okay?”

Coyote said, “Ah, yes. How did you know I was in trouble?”

Wendy Wolf explained, “We could hear you very clearly. You can scream like no one else. We were talking about you when you screamed for help.”

Coyote hung his head and asked, “Ah, what did you say?”

Eagle said, “Coyote, we’d like to hear you talk now.” Bear and Wolf nodded in agreement.

Coyote mumbled, “I’m so sorry I called each of you those names and said those nasty things about each of you. None of them are true. I felt much better right after I said them, but then Eagle and Bear left me after I called them names. I felt AWFUL alone.”

Bear said, “Coyote, we are still your friends. But you can’t make yourself feel better by tearing someone down.”

Coyote nodded his head and trotted to his three friends. Bear and Wolf each gave him a hug. Eagle wrapped her huge wings around Coyote as a way to hug him.

Click “Story Comprehension Questions: Courage to Fear” to get a copy of the twenty-one questions for your class to discuss or write about or both.



Four Coyote tales:

1. Coyote meets his master

A. Read-aloud story

B. Story comprehension questions

2. Courage to fear

A. Read-aloud story

B. Story comprehension questions

3. Coyote travels inside

A. Read-aloud story

B. Story comprehension questions

4. Coyote becomes mindful

A. Read-aloud story

B. Story comprehension questions


Story featuring Bear:

1. Bear becomes bearable

A. Read-aloud story

B. Story comprehension questions


Seven stories from the East:

1. Dog learns to dance

A. Read-aloud story

B. Story comprehension questions

2. Teeter-Totter Eagle reviews her past

A. Read-aloud story

B. Story comprehension questions

3. Beaver Busy

A. Read-aloud story

B. Story comprehension questions

4. Coyote and Fawn learn about growth within

A. Read-aloud story

B. Story comprehension questions

5. Argument between the Deer and Rabbits

A. Read-aloud story

B. Story comprehension questions

6. Wolf purpose versus Deer purpose

A. Read-aloud story

B. Story comprehension questions

7. Flying Eights

A. Read-aloud story

B. Story comprehension questions


People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *