LONG AGO, before lessons were written down, people passed down stories to their children to teach them life's lessons. After writing was invented, people began to keep the fables to teach morals. Thanks to the authors of those old writings, we have learned many lessons from our past.

Today, educators and parents continue to teach youngsters lessons with stories. Some of their favorite books that teach children about friendship come from the imagination of author and illustrator Marcus Pfister of Switzerland, who wrote a series of books that translate complex social themes into easy, childlike language.

The first of the Rainbow Fish book series, published in 1992, tells of a beautiful, but haughty, fish that was snubbed by the other fish because he wouldn't share his shiny, silvery scales.

The rainbow fish visited an octopus who taught him how to make the other fish like him, even though it cost him his beauty.

You can find out how the rainbow fish learned to be a friend by reading the Rainbow Fish and by making your own Rainbow Fish using the directions I found at ph.ly/Rainbow.

Supplies you will need

* Template of the fish (or you can draw your own)

* Piece of heavy paper, cardboard or card stock, in blue or silver

* Small amount of tinfoil

* Thin strips of various colored tissue paper or construction paper

* 1 big blue piece of tissue or construction paper, or a blue marker or crayon

* Glue

* Scissors

* Black marking pen

How to make it

Print the Rainbow Fish template (or draw the outline of a fish on a piece of paper). Go over the lines with a black marker.

Cut out the fish and glue the paper to a heavy piece of silver or blue cardboard or card stock.

Color the head in blue, or glue on a piece of tissue or construction paper.

Glue small strips of various colored tissue on the body, fins and tail, allowing the black lines to show through.

Glue a few strips of tinfoil on the fish interspersed with the colored strips.

Cut out the mouth and eye from the template and glue them onto the head or color them in with a black marker.