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The Empty Pot – A Chinese Folk Story About Honesty

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The Empty Pot a Chinese folk story is a fun story teaching kids about honesty. It was published on September 15, 1996 under the title “The Empty Pot (An Owlet Book)”. The book was written and illustrated by Demi. In this fun story for kids, we learn about a boy and how he showed his honesty to the emperor by just showing him his empty planting pot.

All About The Empty Pot a Chinese Folk Story for Kids - The Empty Pot Story Book

All About The Empty Pot a Chinese Folk Story Kids – A Story Book made by DEMI about the Empty Pot (a Chinese Folk Story)

This is the story:

Many years ago in China, the Emperor made an announcement. He was getting old and had no son. He needed to find someone to replace him as Emperor of China. He had always loved gardening so he decided to pass out flower seeds to boys throughout the kingdom. Whichever boy could grow the best plant would win the privilege of becoming the next emperor.

Boys flocked to the palace for the seeds. Among the boys was Ping, the best gardener in all the kingdom. His bok choy, sweet peas and melons were always the sweetest and freshest at the market. He thought surely he could win this contest. He carefully planted the seed the Emperor had given him in a pot with rich soil. He watered and cared for the seed, but nothing happened.

All around him, though, other boys planted seeds that quickly sprouted and grew. They laughed and taunted the boy with the empty pot. The boy planted his seed in a different pot with even better soil. He fertilized the soil with dried fish meal. Still, nothing grew.

Finally the day came to take the plants to the Emperor. The boy was despondent, but he took his empty pot and walked to the palace. The Emperor examined the other boys’ strong, green plants with a scowl on his face. He frowned even more deeply when he saw the boy’s pot. “You brought me an empty pot,” he exclaimed. Ping hung his head. He said, “I’m sorry, Emperor. I tried and tried to grow the seed you gave me, but nothing came up.”

All about the Empty Pot a Chinese Folk Story for Kids - a Story Book Page Showing the Boy with the Empty Pot and the Emperor

Here it shows a page from the story book that shows the boy approaching the Emperor with his pot.

The Emperor stroked his chin and smiled. Then he said to the people, “May I introduce you to the new Emperor. You see, the seeds were cooked so they would not grow. I’m not sure how the rest of you grew plants, but they didn’t grow from my seeds. He has been honest and noble.”

Fun Facts about The Empty Pot a Chinese Folk Story for Kids

  • The Chinese have a long history of art, music, dance and folk stories.
  • Their folk stories often teach people how to live.

The Empty Pot a Chinese Folk Story Vocabulary

  1. Emperor: a ruler, similar to a king
  2. Privilege: special right or gift
  3. Despondent: very sad and discouraged
  4. Noble: showing character

Learn All About The Empty Pot a Chinese Folk Story Video for Kids

Watch this awesome video on The Empty Pot a Chinese Folk Story for kids:

A video of a role play of the folk story all about the Empty Pot.

The Empty Pot a Chinese Folk Story Q&A

Question: Are dragons good or bad?

Answer: In Chinese culture, dragons are usually kind and good, not scary. The Chinese people believe that the first Emperor had dragon blood. They believe that they are descendants of dragons.


Question: Why is this called a “Folk Story”?

Answer: A folk story is a tool used to teach lessons and orally pass down knowledge from person to person within a culture or family. The Empty Pot story was started in China and used to teach about honesty as a good thing even though it may be hard and not feel good at first.


Enjoyed the Free Geography Kids Online Resources all about the Empty Pot a Chinese Folk Story info? Take the FREE & fun all about the Empty Pot a Chinese Folk Story quiz and download FREE all about the Empty Pot a Chinese Folk Story worksheet for kids. For lengthy info click here.



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Declan, Tobin. " Chinese Empty Pot Facts for Kids ." Easy Science for Kids, Mar 2021. Web. 07 Mar 2021. < >.

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Tobin, Declan. (2021). Chinese Empty Pot Facts for Kids. Easy Science for Kids. Retrieved from

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