The Rainbow Fish

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Last updated 6 years ago

Language Arts
Writers Biographies

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The Rainbow Fish

Marcus Pfister was born on July 30, 1960 in Bern, Switzerland. He attended the Art School of Bern and begna his career as a graphic artist. Between 1984 and 1985, Pfister began to write and illustrate his first book, The Sleepy Owl, which was published in 1986 ("Marcus Pfister Biography"). Until 1992, Pfister worked simultaneously as a graphic designer and as an author/illustrator of children's books. In 1992, he "burst onto the international scene with his book, The Rainbow Fish, which convinced him to focus solely on writing and illustrating his own books" (Marcus Pfister Biography"). The Rainbow Fish has remained on bestseller lists across the United States ever since. Up to now, Pfister has published 49 books. They have been translated into more than 50 languages and over 30 million copies have found their way into homes and hearts around the world ("Marcus Pfister Biography").

Pfister's work, written in German and translated into English, features animals with human characteristics who have to work out problems common to young children. His books contain themes about sharing, trust, cooperation, consideration, courage, and responsibility. Because students often have experience with these topics, it is easier for them to read and understand Pfister's stories than it would be for them to read about things outside of their experience (Taberski, 2000, p. 140). Pfister's stories are generally illustrated with pen drawings and watercolors in pastel colors. All of his images are very colorful, making them visually engaging for children. The illustrations are simple, clear, and closely support the meaning of the text--making it easier for children to figure out what the text says (Taberski, 2000, p. 138). The artist uses holographic foil stamping to create pictures that have a shimmering, reflective effect when placed in the light. This technique was used in The Rainbow Fish and several of Pfister's other works as well.

-The Rainbow Fish can be used to teach about the importance of sharing and how wonderful it can feel to share. -The story can also be used to discuss what it means to be selfish.-The Rainbow Fish is a great beginning of the year activity to help teach children about friendship and ways you should treat friends.-Students can also discuss Rainbow Fish's behavior at different points in the story and identify how it made the Rainbow Fish feel and how it made others feel.

The Rainbow Fish is an award-winning book about a beautiful but conceited fish who discovers true happiness when he learns to share.

The Rainbow Fish


Pfister's other books



Growing up, The Rainbow Fish was always one of my favorite books. My passion and love for the story and the illustrations is one reason I love using this book in the classroom. When teachers introduce and read from books that are personally meaningful, those who listen often are influenced by their sincerity and conviction. Thus, making The Rainbow Fish a motivating story for students to read (Tunnell & Jacobs, 2012, p. 215).


Marcus Pfister Biography (n.d.) Retrieved from, S. (2000). On solid ground: Strategies for teaching reading k-3. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.The Rainbow Fish read by Ernest Borgnine [Video file]. Retrieved from Tunnell, M.O., & Jacobs, J.S. (2012). Motivating students to read. In Children's Literature, Briefly (pp. 212-225). Boston, MA: Pearson.



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