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Reluctant Ruth

To show that even when we find things difficult we should always try to persevere.

by Jan Edmunds

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To show that even when we find things difficult we should always try to persevere.

Preparation and materials

  • On four large pieces of card, write in large letters the messages in the story that Grandma left for Ruth. You might like to have children holding up the signs at the appropriate place in the story.


Tell the children that your story today is about a little girl called Ruth. She was known as ‘Reluctant Ruth’. If necessary explain the meaning of ‘reluctant’. After telling the story you might like to spend a short time discussing it.

Reluctant Ruth
by Jan Edmunds

Ruth was only six years old. She was a happy-go-lucky child who loved being outside playing with her friends. She didn’t mind going to school. She liked painting and drawing, making things in art and craft, dancing, doing PE and singing. But she was very reluctant to do those things that she found difficult, like reading or mathematics. She couldn’t concentrate on anything for very long and had little patience if challenged. She would bring a book home from school every day but when her mother or father asked her to practise her reading or go through her spellings Ruth was always reluctant to do so.

Ruth was delighted when the summer holidays came round. She loved to go and stay with her grandma and grandpa on their farm in the country. Most of all she loved the companionship of Jess the sheep dog. Jess was so clever, rounding up the sheep. She could do so many tricks and when she wasn’t working the two were inseparable.

Together they would feed the chickens, or help fetch the cows in for milking. Jess would fetch the brushes for Ruth when she groomed Nellie the Shetland pony and the dog would follow the tractor when Grandpa took Ruth for a ride. They also loved to play together with a ball.

Every night at bedtime Grandma would read a story. One night she said to Ruth, ‘How about us reading the story together?’

Ruth lay back on the pillows. ‘No, Grandma, I don’t like reading. It’s too hard.’

‘Don’t you want to learn to read?’ asked Grandma.

Ruth began to sulk. ‘No, I just don’t like it,’ she said.

‘Reading can be such fun,’ said Grandma. ‘There are so many things that you will not be able to do if you cannot read and there are so many wonderful stories to read.’

‘But it’s too hard,’ said Ruth.

‘Life isn’t always easy,’ said Grandma. ‘We have to learn to work for the things we want in life. Nothing comes without putting some effort into it.’ Grandma was wise. ‘I know,’ she said. ‘Let’s make it into a game. When you come down to breakfast in the morning I’ll leave some notes every day for you to read and follow.’

Ruth wasn’t too keen on the idea but she knew Grandma wouldn’t be very pleased if she didn’t make an effort. Next morning there was a message on the table. (Hold up card 1 and ask the children to read it for you.)

‘Come and look for me in the hen house.’

Ruth struggled a bit but managed to read the words. She went outside to find Grandma. On the hen house door was another message. (Hold up card 2 and read it together.)

‘Come in and help me to get the eggs.’

Ruth went in and together she and Grandma collected and counted 35 eggs in the basket. When they went back into the kitchen there was another note. (Hold up card 3.)

‘Shall we make some buns?’

Ruth loved to cook with Grandma. ‘Oh yes, please,’ she said.

Grandma fetched a thick book from the shelf. ‘We’d better find the recipe so that we know what to do,’ she said, opening the page they needed. Of course, Grandma already knew how to make the buns but she wanted to show Ruth that if you could read recipes you could make all kinds of things. With Grandma’s help Ruth managed to read out the ingredients, then follow the instructions, and the buns were soon made. A delicious smell floated from the kitchen and soon Grandpa appeared, eager to taste the warm buns.

Every day for the next three weeks Grandma left notes for Ruth, who became enthusiastic about following the instructions. The more she read, the easier it became. She even began to help with reading the bedtime stories.

Soon it was the last week of her holiday. Ruth would be going back home in a few days. She knew she would miss the farm, especially Jess. Funny! She hadn’t seen Jess since yesterday and the dog hadn’t come to meet her as usual that morning. Grandma suggested that Jess was probably out with Grandpa. She told Ruth that she was very pleased with the way she had been persevering with her reading, and that she might find, after following today’s notes, that there would be a special surprise for her.

After reading several more notes Ruth found one on the shed door. (Hold up card 4.)

‘Come and look in the dog kennel, Jess wants to give you something.’

Ruth wondered, what could it be? She opened the door of the kennel and peeped in. Her heart leapt. There was Jess surrounded by six beautiful chubby black-and-white puppies. Grandma and Grandpa followed her in.

‘Choose one of your very own and you can take it home with you when it’s big enough,’ said Grandma. ‘You’ve worked so hard and you deserve a reward.’

Ruth was so thrilled! Her very own puppy! How wonderful!

Grandma and Grandpa looked at one another and smiled. ‘Reading isn’t so bad, is it?’

‘No, it’s great!’ said Ruth.

Several weeks later Ruth went back to the farm to fetch her puppy. She called it Wordy because she said that if she hadn’t read the words on Grandma’s notes she would never have found her new pet. Ruth enjoys books now and often reads to Wordy. Ruth is no longer reluctant to learn.

Time for reflection

It is so easy to give up when we find things difficult. There are many times in the Bible when Jesus could have taken the easy way out. He was often tired and weary but he was never reluctant to do what he believed was the right thing or to help those around him.


Lord of the loving heart, may mine be loving too.

Lord of the gentle hands, may mine be gentle too.

Lord of the willing feet, may mine be willing too.

So may I grow more like to you in all I say and do.



‘Father, hear the prayer we offer’ (Come and Praise, 48)

Publication date: November 2008   (Vol.10 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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