Episode 14:

The Tooth Fairy

Helpful Links:

Transcript of the Episode:

Welcome to the English for Everyone ESL Podcast! I’m your host, Caren Hayden, and I’m here to help you improve your English.


What happens when American children lose their baby teeth? Well, most kids believe that the Tooth Fairy visits them in the middle of the night. Learn all about this custom and how it may be different from other teeth-centered traditions around the world. Stay tuned!


In modern America, most children are told a story about the Tooth Fairy. Parents usually say that when you lose a baby tooth, you should put that tooth under your pillow while you sleep. The story goes that in the middle of the night, the Tooth Fairy sneaks into your room and replaces the tooth with money. In the morning, when you wake up, you will find this money instead of your lost tooth. This ritual, which has been practiced in the U.S. since the early 1900s, is a combination of stories from other cultures and countries.

How much money does the Tooth Fairy usually leave? This number has drastically increased since I was getting money under my own pillow as a child. I used to receive one or two dollars, or maybe only fifty cents. Nowadays, most kids get at least five dollars per tooth, and many get ten or twenty! I recall a recent discussion among moms on Facebook a few months back where one mom was saying that she wanted to leave her daughter 100 dollars for her first lost tooth! Wow! That seemed very excessive to me, but this just shows you that the Tooth Fairy must be doing pretty well to leave kids so much money.

How did this tradition start? In some of the earliest written Norse and Northern European records, it is said that children received money for their lost teeth. The Vikings also paid children for their teeth. They took these teeth into battle, which were supposed to bring good luck. Scandinavian warriors used to wear a necklace of children’s teeth for good luck as well.

What does the Tooth Fairy look like? Well, most children and parents have to use their imagination. While many agree on what Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny look like, there haven’t been a lot of details about the Tooth Fairy’s appearance passed down since the tradition started. Many children might think of other fairies in movies or popular children’s books. The Tooth Fairy is usually described as an adult female wearing a tutu, a crown, some wings, and she might be carrying a wand.

So why do American families celebrate this custom? There are a few different reasons. The Tooth Fairy story and tradition might bring comfort to children while they are experiencing something scary and painful, like losing a tooth. Or, parents may have fond memories of practicing this tradition when they were young and want their children to have the same experience. Finally, it could just be a way to celebrate a small step toward adulthood. Losing baby teeth and getting permanent teeth is a milestone that shows they are growing up.

Does your country, culture, or family celebrate losing a tooth in a different way? I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a comment on the show website.


Thank you so much for listening to the English for Everyone ESL Podcast! Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You will find the transcript of today’s show and some helpful links about today’s topic on the show website: www.englishforeveryonepod.com. [Stay tuned for the slower version of today’s episode].


[slower version, same transcript]

Bye Bye!



Music is Where’s My Jetpack by Computer Music All-Stars found on www.freemusicarchive.org