The Purim Story for Young Children
Adapted by Sylvia Rouss
A long, long time ago in a town called Shushan there lived a king named Ahashverosh. King Ahashverosh liked to have parties. He would invite all his friends to the palace. At the end of every party, the king would ask his wife, Vashti to dance for his friends. He would call, “Vashti, Vashti, come and dance.”
“I don’t feel like dancing! I have a headache!” cried Vashti.
King Ahashverosh was very angry. He was the king and no one ever said no to him. “If you don’t dance, you will have to leave Shushan!” he shouted.
“I don’t care!” cried Vashti. “My head hurts!”
“You must leave Shushan now! You are no longer the queen,” the king told her.
Now that Vashti was gone, King Ahashverosh missed her. He was very lonely. He decided to have a beauty contest. “I will choose the most beautiful girl in Shushan to be my new wife and the new queen,” he announced.
Mordechai, a Jew living in Shushan, was the king’s friend. He had a beautiful niece named Esther. Mordechai told Esther, “Go to the beauty contest. I’m sure the king will choose you to be his new queen.”
Esther said, “I’m not sure the king will like me but I will go.”
The king took one look at Esther and said, “You are the most beautiful girl in Shushan. Will you marry me?”
Esther nodded, yes.
The king married Esther and was happy. Esther was happy. Mordechai was happy. Everyone in Shushan was happy except for one man. His name was Haman and he worked for the king. Haman did not like Mordechai or the Jewish people because they would not bow down to him. Haman went to see King Ahashverosh. He told the king, “I think all the Jews should leave Shushan. They are different from us. They have their own God and their own laws. They refuse to bow down to me.”
The king listened to Haman and agreed, “Yes, the Jews will have to leave Shushan.”
The Jewish people were sad. They did not want to leave Shushan. Mordechai went to see his niece, Esther. He told her, “Haman wants the Jews to leave Shushan. You must help us. Tell the king that you are Jewish.”
Esther was afraid that the king might get angry but she knew she had to help the Jewish people. She went to see the king and she told him, “If Haman makes all the Jews of Shushan leave then I shall have to leave too because I am Jewish.”
King Ahashverosh was sad. He loved Esther and he didn’t want her to leave. He said, “Esther, I will protect you and all the Jewish people. You will stay but Haman must leave.”
Esther had saved the Jews of Shushan. Now that Haman was gone, King Ahashverosh was happy, Queen Esther was happy, Mordechai was happy and all the people in Shushan were happy. And because everyone was so happy they decided to have a PARTY!
Questions for Discussion:
- Vashti did not want to come to the king’s party. Have you ever said no to a friend who asked you to play? How did you feel? How do you think your friend felt? Is it okay to say no to a friend?
- King Ahashverosh made Vashti leave and then he felt lonely. What else could he have done when she refused to dance for him?
- Why do you think the king at first agreed with Haman and said the Jews should leave Shushan? What would you have done if you were the king?
- Haman didn’t like the Jews because they were different from him. How do you feel about people who are different from you?
Which character in the story do you like the best? Which character do you like the least? Why?