University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children
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Title and Author: The Rainbow Fish by Peter Catalanotto

Field of Philosophy: Ethics; Social and Political Philosophy;

Plot Summary: Described as "the most beautiful fish in the entire ocean," the fish in the story has rainbow-colored, iridescent scales. The other fish call him "Rainbow Fish," and invite him to play with them, but he remains uninterested and aloof. A small blue fish follows him one day, asking for one of his scales, and is rebuffed. The rainbow fish ends up ostracized by all the other fish, and his scales begin to mean less to him with "no one to admire them." Taking the advice of an octopus whose suggestions he seeks, the rainbow fish gives all his scales away, one by one, until he is left with only one. Surrounded by many fish, each with one iridescent scale, the rainbow fish now no longer looked different, and he "at last felt at home among the other fish."

Some discussion questions:

Is it better to be different or to fit in with the community?
Should everyone be the same?
Is the Rainbow Fish acting selfishly when he won’t give away his scales?
What makes the Rainbow Fish unique? Does he have a right to keep what makes him unique?
Why do the other fish stop talking to Rainbow Fish? Are they justified in doing this?
Is Rainbow Fish beautiful? Is he more beautiful than the other fish?
Is Rainbow Fish happier at the end of the story?