The Three Billy Goats Gracious

“The Three Billy Goats Gracious” is a story by Jennifer Holladay that was first published in the Fall 2008 issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine.
Jennifer Holladay
Grade Level


Three whimsical looking billy goats are walking across a bridge. One is singing, one is riding in a wheelbarrow, and the other is walking and smiling.

Once upon a time there were three billy goats who were to go up to the hillside to eat‚ and the name of all three was “Gracious.”

On the way up was a bridge over a cascading stream they had to cross‚ and under the bridge lived a grumpy troll‚ with eyes as big as saucers‚ and teeth as long as a billy goat’s leg. The youngest Billy Goat Gracious came first to cross the bridge.

“Trip‚ trap‚ trip‚ trap‚” went the bridge.

“Who’s that tripping over my bridge?” roared the troll.

“Oh‚ it is only I‚ the tiniest Billy Goat Gracious‚ and I’m going up to the hillside to eat‚” he said‚ in a very small voice.

“Well‚ I’m coming to gobble you up‚” said the troll.

“Oh‚ no! Pray don’t eat me. I’m just a kid‚ that I am‚” said the billy goat‚ and he scampered back to his family.

“Trip‚ trap‚ trip‚ trap‚ trip‚ trap!” went the bridge.

“Sister and Mother‚ the troll under the bridge is hungry‚” cried the little billy goat. “He said it’s me he’d eat!”

Sister and Mother and little Son‚ Billy Goats Gracious all‚ sat and pondered their fate.

Then Sister sprang up and ran right into a tree. “Bang‚ crack!” went the tree. Son and Mother Gracious took turns‚ too.

“Bang‚ crack! Bang‚ crack! Bang‚ crack!” went all three‚ and down‚ down‚ down came the big old tree.

Mother mustered her strength and threw the tree across the stream and after that she walked across it to the hillside.

Sister and Son followed close behind. “Clip‚ clop‚ clip‚ clop‚ clip‚ clop.”

There the billy goats got so full they were scarcely able to walk home again. But as they did‚ they offered some food to the grumpy‚ hungry troll.

Snip‚ snap‚ snout. This tale’s told out.

Copyright © Teaching Tolerance.
Text Dependent Questions
  1. Question
    Put this paragraph into your own words.
    To get to the hillside, the goats had to cross a bridge. The bridge stretched across water, and under the bridge lived a big, mean troll. The youngest billy goat got to the bridge before Mother and Sister.
  2. Question
    What does the troll threaten to do to the youngest billy goat?
    He threatens to eat him.
  3. Question
    Sister billy goat comes up with a solution to the problem. What is it?
    Her solution is to knock a tree down and put it across the water. That way, they can cross it to get to the hillside instead of the bridge where the troll lives.
  4. Question
    The narrator says, “There the billy goats got so full they were scarcely able to walk home again.” What does “scarcely” mean?
    It means just barely or almost not.
Reveal Answers
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