Easy Stories in English

The podcast that will take your English from OK to Good and from Good to Great!

Open Sesame

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Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.

I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for beginners. The name of the story is Open Sesame. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Open. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Open. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation after it.

OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.

A sweet made from sesame seeds (Augustus Binu)

When you want to grow a plant, you first need a seed. A seed is a small, brown thing that you put in the ground. You put water on a seed, and the sun shines on it, and slowly it grows into a plant. You can also eat seeds, and they’re very good for you. Common types of seeds are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.

A wheelbarrow (Ildar Sagdejev CC BY-SA 4.0)

A wheelbarrow is a small vehicle, like a car or a cart, that you use in the garden. Wheelbarrows have one big wheel and two legs. You put things in a wheelbarrow, like seeds or flowers, and push it to carry the things around. It’s much easier than carrying them on your back!

A thief, and the plural is thieves, is a person who steals. They might steal bread, money or computers. Aladdin is a famous thief from fairy tales.

A pirate and his treasure

Treasure is money, gold, jewellery—basically, expensive things. But when we say ‘treasure’, we are usually thinking of fantasy and stories. For example, pirates put treasure in wooden boxes called chests and bury them under the ground. Kings sometimes give treasure to heroes. In many video games, you collect treasure.

Various jewels

A jewel is a type of treasure. Jewels are special stones that are very pretty and cost a lot of money. Diamonds are the most expensive jewels, but there are also rubies, which are red, emeralds, which are green, amethysts, which are purple, and so on. These days, people put jewels in earrings and on dresses to make them look nice.

A pile of stones (Chris 73 CC BY-SA 3.0)

When you put lots of things together, you make a pile. For example, if you have lots of clothes in your room, and you are very lazy, you might throw them on the floor. Over time, you will throw more and more clothes, and they will make a pile—like a little mountain of clothes.

When you stick to something, you are touching that thing and it won’t stop touching you. For example, if you lick an envelope, you put your tongue on it, it will stick together when you close it. If it is very hot and you are sweating a lot, lots of water is coming out of your body, then your clothes will stick to you. If you wear a hat for a long time, your hair will stick to your head.

Pritt sticks are used often in schools (Asim18 CC BY 3.0)

Glue is a liquid, like water, that you use to make two things stick to each other. For example, maybe you have a card and a piece of paper. You want the paper to stick to the card, so you put glue on the paper and push it against the card. Or maybe the jewel falls out of your earring, so you glue it back on the earring. Famous brands of glue are Gorilla Glue, Elmer’s glue, Krazy Glue, Pritt Sticks and so on.

A leader is the person who leads, who is the head, of something. For example, the teacher is the leader of the classroom. The mayor is the leader of a town. The prime minister, or president, is the leader of the country.

When you know something that other people don’t know, you have a secret. For example, maybe you saw that your sister didn’t do her homework, but she told your mother that she did her homework. She has a secret, that she didn’t actually do her homework, and you know her secret. Usually, secrets are more important than that. For example, someone might steal something and keep it a secret from everyone.

If you enjoy the podcast and want more, you can support us on Patreon. For just $2 a month you can get exercises with each episode, and for $5, you get an extra story every month, as well as Elevenses with Ariel, a daily conversational podcast for intermediate learners. Last week I talked about big shops closing down in the UK, how I chose my name, forgetting things, a book called Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and doing a digital detox. You can support the show and get all the extra content at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.

A big thank-you to our new patrons, as well as patrons who have increased their pledge: Jean-Marc Cheseaux, Андрей Манжелий and Giuliana Dusi. Thank you so much. Your support really means a lot to me.

OK, so listen and enjoy!

Open Sesame

Once, there were two brothers. One brother was rich, and the other one was poor. The rich brother never gave money to the poor brother. While the rich brother did nothing, the poor brother worked hard. He sold seeds, and he did not make a lot of money. Sometimes, he had no bread for his wife and children.

One day, the poor brother was pushing a wheelbarrow through the forest. The wheelbarrow belonged to the rich brother. The poor brother borrowed it sometimes, so that he could look for food in the forest. But today, he found no fruit for his family.

But he did see something strange. He saw a mountain, but he was sure that there was not a mountain there before. While he looked at it, twelve thieves walked to the mountain. They stood outside and cried, ‘Open sesame, open sesame, up up up!’

Then a door opened in the mountain, the twelve men walked inside and the mountain closed.

The poor man stood in a tree and watched, and an hour later, the men came out again. They carried big heavy bags on their backs. When they were all outside, they said, ‘Close sesame, close sesame, puh puh puh!’

Then the mountain closed again, and there was no door in it. The twelve thieves left the forest, but the poor man went to the mountain.

He made sure that the twelve thieves were gone, and then said, ‘Open sesame, open sesame, up up up!’

And the mountain opened for him, too! He thought, “Should I go inside? Maybe the door will close and I won’t be able to get out. Maybe there are dangerous animals inside that will eat me.”

But he wanted to know what those men carried in their bags. He thought it might be something useful.

So he went inside, and the mountain closed behind him.

He gasped. The mountain was full of treasures! There was gold and silver and thousands of jewels. They sat in piles, like piles of seeds, but these treasures were so much better than seeds. The poor man did not know what to take. He did not want the thieves to kill him. So he took just a bit of gold, filling his pockets. He wanted to take the jewels, but he thought that the thieves would know, so he did not take any.

When he left, he said, ‘Close sesame, close sesame, puh puh puh!’

The mountain closed, and the poor man went home with the wheelbarrow and lots of gold.

With his new gold, the man’s life changed. He could buy bread for his wife and children, and they drank wine with it. He bought good furniture, gave money to the poor, and was nice to everyone. When he used all the gold, he borrowed his brother’s wheelbarrow and went back to the mountain. Again, he did not take the jewels, and just took gold.

But when he borrowed the wheelbarrow for a third time, the rich brother started to ask himself questions.

“Where is my brother getting this money?” he thought. “He has a lovely house, lots of food, and he doesn’t work anymore. What is he taking with my wheelbarrow?”

So the rich man had an idea. He put glue in the wheelbarrow. When his brother put gold in it, the gold stuck to the glue, and when he gave the wheelbarrow back, there was still a gold piece stuck to it.

‘Aha!’ said the rich brother. ‘He is not looking for apples or carrying seeds. He is taking gold in my wheelbarrow! He probably steals it.’

The rich brother said to the poor brother, ‘Oh, dear brother! You are always working so hard. What have you been carrying in my wheelbarrow?’

‘Just some seeds and apples!’ said the poor brother.

‘Oh, then what is this?’

Then he showed him the gold piece. The poor brother went red.

‘Uh, uh…’

‘You’ve been stealing, haven’t you, dear brother? I should go to the police and tell them what you did.’

‘No!’ The poor man thought of his family. ‘Please don’t. I will explain.’

And he told his rich brother everything. Afterwards, the rich man decided he had to go to this mountain himself. Sure, he was rich, but he wanted to be richer!

He found the mountain and cried, ‘Open sesame, open sesame, up up up!’

The mountain opened, and he went inside. He saw the gold, the silver and the jewels, and he knew what he wanted. He filled the wheelbarrow with jewels and left, but the mountain was closed.

‘Open sunflower, open sunflower, up up up!’

The mountain did not open.

‘Damn! I know it’s the name of a seed… Open flax? Open pumpkin?’

He said all the seeds he knew, but the mountain did not open.

‘Oh no! I cannot get out!’

The jewels could not help him. Several hours later, the twelve thieves came to the mountain. When they saw the man, they laughed.

‘Aha, our little bird is here! You thought you could steal from us, did you? Twice you came here and ran away, but now we have you. This time, you won’t get out!’

‘It wasn’t me!’ cried the man. He pushed the wheelbarrow away. ‘It really wasn’t! It was my brother.’

‘Yeah, yeah,’ said one of the thieves. ‘Now, are we going to kill him?’

‘No,’ said the leader. ‘I have a better idea.’

He took a sesame seed from his pocket. The thieves started laughing. Two of them held the rich man and said, ‘Open your mouth!’

‘No!’ said the rich man.

But when he spoke, the leader of the thieves pushed the sesame seed into his mouth.

‘Close sesame, close sesame, and never open again.’

The man gulped. His mouth closed and he could not open it.

The thieves threw him outside into the night. The man tried to speak, but he could not. His mouth would not open!

He could not believe it. He knew about the secret mountain, he had seen the secret treasures inside, but he could never go back, because he could not say the magic words. He also couldn’t tell anyone else.

It was a sad life for the rich man. He wanted to tell everyone about the piles of treasure, but they would never know, and he had to eat and drink through his nose, because he could not open his mouth.

The poor man was happy, though. He never went back to the mountain, but his family had bread. And when they didn’t have bread, he sold the nice furniture or sold seeds.


I hope you enjoyed today’s story! I certainly enjoyed writing it.

As you know, I like stories with sad, creepy endings and, originally in this story, the thieves just killed the man, but I thought, “OK, I can’t keep having death.” So I chose something else.

But, to be honest, maybe it’s worse than death. I don’t know. To never be able to speak again but to know that there’s all this treasure that you can’t get to? Oof. That must be hard.

Anyway, it’s getting really close to Christmas, and what a strange Christmas it’s going to be! With coronavirus, the year has passed so quickly and many people can’t celebrate Christmas like we normally do.

Of course, not everyone celebrates Christmas, but I celebrate Christmas, and normally I go and spend Christmas with my parents, my brother and my sister, and maybe some cousins.

But this year, it’s just going to be me and my parents because there are some restrictions, there are some rules, that we can only see three households, three groups of people, over Christmas. And so my brother and sister won’t be able to see the rest of us.

Which is kind of sad, but it will be a nice relaxed Christmas, and I plan to do lots of writing and reading and relaxing!

Anyway, I’ve already bought and wrapped most of my presents, so I’m feeling very relaxed, and I have to say, I’m really looking forward to the food. British Christmas food is so good. Ugh! We have mince pies, Christmas pudding, turkey with stuffing, pigs in blankets, parsnips, panettone… Argh, it’s all so good!

If you want to see a picture of what a traditional Christmas dinner looks like, definitely go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Open. And while you’re there, why not leave a comment and tell me if you celebrate Christmas, and if you do celebrate it, what kind of food do you eat in your country?

A British Christmas dinner, including turkey, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts, carrots, stuffing, roast potatoes and parsnips

[There’s a great article about British Christmas food here]

Speaking of holidays, I’m going to take next week off the podcast. So I’m not going to release an episode next week, because I’ll be staying with my parents and eating so much food!

I actually wanted to do a Christmas-themed episode today, so a story with Christmassy ideas, but I forgot. So sorry! Maybe I’ll do a new year’s story. I don’t know.

Anyway, some people will not celebrate Christmas, but maybe there are other holidays you’re celebrating. So Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, or just a Happy New Year, whatever you’re doing!

If you enjoyed the story and want to say thank you, you can buy me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Just go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com and click the orange button that says Buy me a coffee! Then you’ll be able to send me $3 so that I can buy a coffee, but really, I’ll probably get a bubble tea. And I’ll think of you while I drink it!

See you next week!


21 responses to “Open Sesame”

  1. Nara avatar

    Thanks a lot my lovely teacher 🥰🥰🥰

    1. Ariel Goodbody avatar
      Ariel Goodbody

      You’re very welcome, Nara

  2. Vitor avatar

    I really enjoy your job with this podcast. Thank you so much!

    And about your question…yes I do celebrate Christmas with my family. There is a lot of good food, turkey for example is very common. I love chicken wings hahaha. Panettone and chocottone as well.
    I hate raisin ( I think everyone too).
    So, that’s it.
    In despite of the fact this was a tough year for everyone, things will getting better (I think).
    I hope you enjoy your Christmas and again, thank you for everything, your work really means a lot to us!
    Have a nice day and see you in the next episode.

    1. Ariel Goodbody avatar
      Ariel Goodbody

      Ooh I hadn’t heard of Chocottone before! It looks delicious 😍
      But actually… I like raisins! Anyway, thank you for the lovely message and Merry Christmas! 🙂

  3. Egor Rait avatar
    Egor Rait

    The best podcast which I listened!
    Thank you for your job!

    1. Ariel Goodbody avatar
      Ariel Goodbody

      You’re very welcome, Egor! 🙂

  4. Artem avatar

    Hello dear Ariel.
    I appreciate your efforts so much as well as plural times.
    Have Merry Christmas dear Teacher!!!
    I am like to celebrate any special occasion.
    I am in international collective, it is amazing to share our customs with the others.
    Please explain me, my dear Teacher! I used to pronounce these modal verbs as Must, May and particularly I like to use Should. Is it most common and proper of the using them? Perhaps is it better to use as a modal verb TO HAVE and TO HAS ?
    Your faithfully ARTEM

    1. Ariel Goodbody avatar
      Ariel Goodbody

      Hi, Artem. I’m afraid I don’t really understand your question. Are you asking whether it’s better to use ‘must’ and ‘may’ or ‘to have to’? The only two that have the same meaning are ‘must’ and ‘to have to’. ‘To have to’ is simply more informal, and can be used in more contexts, e.g. the past tense.

  5. Artem avatar

    Hello Ariel
    Thank You for your answer!
    I understood!
    Nowadays do you ( native speakers in UK ) use modal verb as a SHOULD, or it is too old and unfashionably. Is it good maner to use ( SHOULD, MUST, MAY, MIGHT, CAN) or it is oldschool?

    1. Ariel Goodbody avatar
      Ariel Goodbody

      Of course we still use ‘should’, because there are many meanings of ‘should’ that you can express with other words. ‘Must’ and ‘may’ are less common now, though. Some modal verbs like ‘shall’ are very uncommon.

  6. Arya avatar

    I really like this podcast, how can I download and listen offline in my pc?

    1. Ariel Goodbody avatar
      Ariel Goodbody

      You can download it on your phone using a podcast app like Castbox, or you an use the cloud button at the right of the player to download it. Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂

  7. abdelilah avatar

    thank you so much teacher, you’ve helped us a lot.

    1. Ariel Goodbody avatar
      Ariel Goodbody

      You’re very welcome, Abdelilah! 🙂

  8. chuka avatar

    thank you dear teacher..you helped me for study english very much…

    1. Ariel Goodbody avatar
      Ariel Goodbody

      You’re very welcome, Chuka! 🙂

  9. jmoriarty avatar

    Hi Ariel. Greetings from Turkey. I listen your podcasts nearly everyday to improve my listening skills. You help me a lot. Thank you 🙂

    1. Ariel Goodbody avatar
      Ariel Goodbody

      Thanks for the comment, J! I’m glad you’re finding the podcasts helpful 🙂

  10. Alireza avatar

    Hi , how i can get this podcast in pdf format ?

    1. Ariel Goodbody avatar
      Ariel Goodbody

      Hi Alireza! I actually don’t offer the episodes as PDFs. Mainly because I haven’t had time to do it. However, you can use this website to turn the page into a PDF: https://www.web2pdfconvert.com/

      1. Alireza avatar

        Thanks a lot

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