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It Could Always Be Worse

post written by Emma Filbrun

It Could Always Be Worse by Margot ZemachTitle: It Could Always Be Worse
Author: Margot Zemach
Major Themes: Jews, Russia
Synopsis: A poor man goes to the Rabbi for help when his house is feeling too crowded, and gets advice he never expected.

It Could Always Be Worse is a retelling of an old Yiddish folk tale. We’ve been reading this funny story with a good lesson a lot lately, ever since the four-year-old found it on the shelf and brought it out.

A poor unfortunate man, his wife, his mother, and his six children all lived in a one-room hut. During the winter, things were really hard; they were so crowded. Desperate for help, he went to the Rabbi. He was not expecting the advice the Rabbi gave him—take the chickens into the house! Now things were even worse. He went back to the Rabbi. What advice was he given that time?

The pictures are reminiscent of Russian stories; I’m guessing that’s where the story originated. I really like the lesson shown by this story, that we need to be content with what we have and make the best of it.

No warnings!

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 1 – 2, 3 – 4, 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 5 – 6, 7 – 9


Links to buy It Could Always Be Worse:

Amazon: Paperback

AbeBooks: View Choices on

Book Depository: Paperback | Hardcover


Jews, Russia

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