Once upon a time, there were Fairy Tales…

Are you reading traditional Fairy Tales to your children ?
I have been working my way through so many picture books from the library with my boy over the last years, I thought it was time to get into some heavier reading now. A collection of Grimm’s Fairy Tales caught my eye with this beautiful cover :

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Now I have been reading A LOT as a child, and – since I have grown up in the land of dark forests and unhappy princesses – of course, the Fairy Tales as collected by the Brothers Grimm were part of what instilled my interest for literature of all kinds. In the 70s in Germany, indeed, your parents had quite a choice : Very progressive stories of independent and strong kids that were smarter than the grownups were as much available as humoristic sexual education books or translations of foreign books for children, but the fairy tales were still around and read to children at bedtime.

Then came the 80s and I remember a discussion breaking out, whether it was pedagogically responsible to tell your children today those stories that partly had their origin in pre-Christian legends and tales. Some of them were basically more intended to deal with very grown up fears or problems, others were obviously thought up to drum lessons into children’s heads. It’s safe to say that the language and even objects sometimes need explanation, and certain professions or royal positions have come a bit out of date in our society.

Most of all though – they are full of evil people, death and gruesome details! Now I have already posted about my son’s curiosity of death and my very own problems with it. But many people ask : Is it really good for innocent children to get their head filled with those kind of horror stories ?

Say, a story where children are abandoned in the woods because the new wife of their father did not want to feed them, where an old women wants to eat them and the girl then has to burn her to free herself and her brother !? (I don’t need to name the title, you ALL know it) This is about as horrible as a child could imagine ( just think of all the patchwork families today!)  how could they possible deal with it and not be traumatized for life – or at least end up with nightmares?

Vortrag-Hawelmann-1

Well, because like generations before them, they understand the stories as they are intended : Fairy tales teach us about life. Although there are princesses and magic, talking animals and houses made out of gingerbread, they are not all roses and no thorns. Just like life is. There is good and evil, people have problems, there are the consequences of your actions, and the moral of it all is that it ends well for those who deserve it and bad for those who don’t. (And ideally, life is like that too, or let’s just say it is) I could also mention ‘stranger danger’ which is obviously still a message we all want to get across…

Admittedly, I was a bit taken aback when I read some of the stories of the girlnohandsbook those where the titles did not immediately ring a bell with me (and the English translation is sometimes a bit vague to be honest). The story “The Girl With No Hands” had me hesitate sometimes while I read (about the father cutting off his daughter’s hands for starters, then it gets sort of worse!). But my son urged me to go on. He was genuinely interested and while his face was serious and concerned he did not seem as horrified as me.

In the end, as you would have guessed, it all turns out alright, the poor millers daughter and the king live “happily ever after”. Like so many other heroes of classic fairy tales, though, they go basically through hell (in the version of the book, the devil was indeed involved, so I told my son it’s some other ‘bad person’). But of course, they are reunited in love, even the hands grow back and my son went to sleep with the feeling that there is order in this world. And happy endings.

At almost 5, Tornado still gets scared when a G-rated movie has a scene where the screen gets darker and the music laden with suspense. Still, I have not, so far, noticed anything that makes me think I am giving my son more than the thrill of a complex mystical story with a strong message of morals when I read him a Fairy Tale.

The discussion about the good or bad of Fairy Tales is ongoing, from what I see, and maybe it depends on the individual sensitivity of a child (or yours!) whether or not you want to ‘go classic’. But I think reading or telling Fairy Tales is still part of our culture (definitively of mine) and these stories should have their place in our children’s life as much as Dora and the Wiggles or the happy monsters from ‘Yo Gabba Gabba!’ and all the other modern heroes that come in loud colours and with happy, giggly songs.

I’d love to read what experiences you have made or had yourself with classic ‘gruesome’ Fairy Tales and if there is any in particular that you recommend…or not, because you still dream about it.

Links :
The book at amazon.com
Illustrations by Henriette Sauvant
“The Girl without Hands” as by the Brothers Grimm

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151 thoughts on “Once upon a time, there were Fairy Tales…

  1. Raven

    I haven’t, but that’s probably because I don’t have any. I know the old tales. Even Cinderella is a lot more grewsome than than mainstream. I don’t really have issue with it. These days the mroe gruesome things are the more likely nothing will turn out so we give up more easily. Those stories left you with the belief that no matter how bad it was it might still work out. As far as shielding? Kind of hard to do that anymore.

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  2. lunargirl

    I can’t imagine having grown up without The Brothers Grimm. I loved the fairytales. Yes, as I grew up and read them to my children, I realized there was much more there than my chilish mind realized when I was young, but then again, my children only got from it what I did at their age–Good wins, Bad loses and if you are in the right, you will previal eventually.

    I think fairy tales are just fine. Good for you that you spend time reading to your little ones.

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  3. coffeepotson

    Your blog is really nice ,keep up the good work ! The funny thing is that i’m from down under living in europe , (ive only just begun my blog),looking forward to reading more from you.

    Reply
  4. Debi

    I raised my kids with readings from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. I agree with you that for some reason fairy tales — even the most horrifyingly gruesome ones — are less traumatic for the kiddos than the big screen movies made for kids.

    I think sometimes it helps to see things larger than life (or, as in most fairy tales, worse-and-better than life) for children to really be able to apply the morals. They know it’s make-believe. They know it won’t really happen that way. But something resonates with them about the universals truths of right-and wrong that are often being communicated through the stories. Archetypes, if you will.

    Honesly, my kids had more nightmares in their childhoods from stories they heard in Sunday School classes than from fairy tales (hey, hearing about the Apocalypse scares me too!). 😉

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  5. Vibeke

    What a captivating post! I too have grown up with fairy tales, the Grimm brothers, H C Andersen and Asbjørnsen & Moe. I adore all their tales, but must admit I have had similar thoughts on passing the stories on to my children.
    Partly because the collections I have use very old fashioned language – a language that is lost in everyday conversation. (My kids grow up learning three languages, so I am hesitant about introducing them to lots of words they may never need.)
    And also because of the cruelty in these stories. They can be pretty crude, and yes, they often incorporate the Devil himself… hard one to explain if you’re not religious.
    One story I haven’t brought myself to read out loud for them though is “The Little Match Girl” by H C Andersen. The story of a poor child dying on the streets has no happy ending. She is cold, she is scared of her abusive father, she receives no help from passers by. Her only vision of happiness is her deceased grandmother, whom she eventually joins after her own death.
    This story is just too sad. Honestly, it makes me cry (it always has!), and although there are children out there who do suffer similar fates, I believe my children will not benefit from this dive into melancholy.
    Would be curious to hear what other readers think about “The Little Match Girl”!
    Having said all this – there is another little piece of fact I would like to share that many may not know. The Norwegian princess Märtha Louise has been a passionate advocate for Norwegian folk tales and fairy tales. She’s a great story teller herself, and has even published a book called “Why Kings and Queens don’t Wear Crowns”. She should know! Check it out here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Why_Kings_and_Queens_Don't_Wear_Crowns

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  6. Boxed Elf

    When I was about four years old or so, my dad taught me to read out of a big green book of fairy tales. They had most of the gruesome elements taken out, but life still wasn’t all sunshine and roses for Cinderella and her ilk.

    I also remember a beautifully illustrated version of ‘The Little Match Girl’ I read around that same time. For the longest time, I didn’t realize that the little girl died at the end of it. My child-mind was just happy that she got to see her grandmother and be warm and happy at the end.

    I don’t think it’s fair to children to sterilize fairy tales and claim that all is happy and good in the world. Children are a lot stronger and (usually) smarter than adults often give them credit for. They know bad things happen in the world and to pretend otherwise, well, to me it seems like a lie. Give them the bad with the good in their stories, and they’ll be more likely to grow up with a belief in happy endings.

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  7. Anna and Her Biro

    Wow! How true! I remember being quite scared by some of the tales we used to read as children. However if you think about the films out now that are supposedly fit for young kids then we still have the same problem! Young children play on shooting games and watch films about vampires. We weren’t even allowed to watch power rangers as children! Don’t even talk to me about Darleks!!!!

    I think there is value in children growing up learning about the world, and that it isn’t always great – however there are some unnecessary fears that don’t need to be introduced as they aren’t even real (darleks and monsters)

    Thanks for this – congrats on getting onto Freshly Pressed.
    http://www.meandmybiro.wordpress.com

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  8. wry2010

    My boyfriend bought me Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales last year for Christmas. As I was reading them, I was wondering how children would take to some of the stories. I think children process things a lot different than adults, just because adults have seen so much. I have moments where I here a song from my childhood and I’m absolutely mortified at the lyrics and I’m baffled that my parents let me listen to such crap. But I have realized that there is no way I could have gotten the meaning of the lyrics that were clearly meant for adult minds. That’s why parents are parents, they understand (like you) what children can and can’t handle/understand!

    Congrats on FP!

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  9. bradenbost

    My two cents: Parents and grown-ups in general underestimate what kids can handle, and a lot of the jadedness about life which we see among young adults today can be traced to parents not grasping the important balance between protecting them from the world and teaching them about the world. I’d expand more, but I’m a little tired this morning . . .

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  10. warblette

    My father read the Grimm’s fairy tales to us when I was young (I think I was probably 6 or 7 and my sister was 3 or 4) and he was a great narrator, so we thoroughly enjoyed them. The only image that stuck in my head was from ‘Sweetheart Roland’ as I believe we had a rather bloody version in our book and it had to do with sisters… In general, though, Grimm never frightened me as a child and I agree with you that fairy tales are an important cultural influence on all of us.

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  11. gulzameenkhan

    I personally feel fairy tales should not be eliminated from one’s childhood. I am 27(though i am single) but i still love those fairy tales of childhood, my grandfather used to tell me. If i talk for the fairy tales in terms of rationales to support them, i can mention a lot of points going along with your points :
    (1)Fairy Tales(as you mentioned)give the children an essence and faith that everyone in this world has to face the consequences of what he does; bad for bad and good for good.
    (2) The life is neither all about roses nor about thrones.
    (3) Fairy Tales are much more batter than today’s video games and computer games for children.
    (4) They develop the interest of children in reading and literature.
    (5) There are no kings and queens in today’s world but years ago this world was full of them so i believe such stories giving an abstract view of the kings and queens ‘ eras helps children understanding the history.
    (6)Imagination – an important factor in human brain’s intelligence – can only be improved through fairy tales and not by computer games.
    (7) The children gets an understanding of traditions and cultures if we select fairy tales from a wide range.
    There are fairy tales in every traditions and every culture with different tastes(come from time. place and cultures) but the motto and moral of all of them is the same……To feed the child with goodness and morality.

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  12. girlonthecontrary

    It’s funny because, as a kid, I remember being read these stories (classic versions) and absolutely loving them. It wasn’t until I was an adult and re-read them that I became somehow horrified at the content. And yet, I’m sure I will read them to my children as well. My aunt never read these types of stories to my cousins and they are absolutely horrid, which makes me think these stories are necessary to raising non-horrid children. Great post!!

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  13. btdonovan1

    Great post. I sometimes think about some of the fairy tales I loved as a child (especially Grimm) and am somewhat horrified–but I was certainly never horrified as a child. All the evil stepmothers and plotting to kill the children etc were just part of the story. The stories themselves were fantastical and full of imagination. I think passing along all of these wonderful pieces of our heritage–Grimm, Anderson, Tales of the Arabian Nights, etc–is a really important thing to do for our children (although 5 might be a little young for some of the more gruesome stories!). I am less concerned about gruesome stories than I am about Disney coopting all of our children’s literature, so that children only know the Disneyfied version…well, that’s my two cents’ worth 😉

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  14. wadingacross

    We haven’t really covered Fairy Tales per se as of yet – that said, my wife and elder son (4) did watch an old 40s/50s movie called Brothers Grimm, which played vignette stories. He had a lot of questions and as well he’s been interested in the topic of death – it’s only natural.

    We read a plethora of books, but we don’t watch much TV – don’t have cable. I guess like many things, we’ll cross the bridge as we come to it. We’ve taught our elder son that Santa Claus is pretend. He’s a bit perplexed by it, but on the whole, okay. He’s a voracious reader at 4, reading well above the “norm”, but he’s just not there maturity-wise just yet.

    I guess on the whole I just don’t spend much time thinking about it all, though we do try to insulate our children. There is something to be said about innocence and niavete’ in this day and age where there is so much violence and children are exposed to it so young in TV and video games.

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  15. beyondwaiting

    I am a fairytale fanatic – gruesome or not. I really like Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid. Yes, I know she dies, but her display of love and sacrifice amazes me. She gives the Prince her everything even though her affections remain unreturned. A lot of times that is how life is. The Little Mermaid is a beautiful reminder to keep on loving even through the pain, knowing that love is worth it – even when it doesn’t end with “happily ever after.”

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  16. Nathalie Foy

    I love this post. There is so much work done on fairy tales and the collective unconscious, feminsim, imperialism, etc. There are a million ways in which to enrich and complicate a reading of fairy tales, but they form such an essential part of the narrative of our culture that I think we have to read them with our kids. And my kids love them. They can’t get enough of them, especially, lately, stories that are about meeting challenges or being tested. “The Princess and the Pea” is a current favourite. It’s a great story, and it’s a great opportunity to discuss identity and gender roles. The kids just laugh at the king and queen for being blind to the obvious truth. Robert Munsch’s “The Paper Bag Princess” is another of our favourites, and it is also the perfect antidote to the passive heroine in many fairy tales. If you are looking for a loving tribute to fairy tales, I recommend Neil Gaiman’s “Instructions.” I wrote about it here: http://nathaliefoy.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/just-in-time-for-graduation-season/

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  17. dietplaid

    Thank goodness for happy endings!
    In my Senior Seminar class we read Angela Carter’s stories that were based in some common fairy tales, but with some noted differences. Very bizarre, but intensely good. I should get my hands on the Grimm stories though.

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  18. notesfromrumbleycottage

    There are a lot of interesting tales in that tome of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. I do not read these to my children because I find them to be great ‘adult’ stories and too real or violent or scary for them. Sadly, it is the Disneyfied version that I go with until the get older. But a great post, none-the-less

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  19. lifeintheboomerlane

    I haven’t had any experiences with gruesome fairy tales but since many old stories were meant to convey standards of behavior to people, and, since life was a lot more precarious then, it makes perfect sense. There’s a series of Native American “children’s” tale about Coyote, and each time I see or read them, I’m struck anew about the dark events they often portray.

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  20. lorilowe

    Very interesting post! I sometimes hesitate to read fairy tales with my 7 yr old daughter who loves them, particularly the princess stories, despite their lack of mothers. Perhaps children, like adults, just like interesting characters and lots of twists.
    Take care and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!
    Lori Lowe
    http://www.LifeGems4Marriage.com

    Reply
  21. Owls and Trees

    As a child I used to read a lot of fairy tales. And nowadays, I sometimes get out the big Grimm fairy tale book, snuggle up in a chair to enjoy an afternoon of wonderful tales. Yes, some of them are really horrible… but the magic makes everything acceptable. I never had bad dreams from reading Grimm fairy tales. I do have to say that I think the fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen are more depressive. His tales don’t always end so well for the hero or heroin. I remember feeling troubled about Andersen’s fairy tales.
    But in general, I think fairy tales are fun to read!

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  22. Abigail

    Oo- great selection of illustrations. I’ve seen what you’re saying about how children seem to be able to wrap their brains around being told a gruesome story that is tied up neatly in the end vs. watching a cartoon that darkens and plays threatening music and I’d wager it’s because the book it telling and their own imagination is depicting (and the gruesomeness is limited because what child has seen girl have her hands chopped off?), but a movie/cartoon is doing the depicting, which is often beyond the darkness an innocent mind could concoct. Hope I made sense there. Anyway- great post, and I’m enjoying your other posts, too!

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  23. urbannight

    I do not know if it is as hard to find in Europe as in the U.S. but the original, darker versions of the fairy tales are difficult to come buy here. On once had a stunningly beautiful book of fairy tales my mom got me when I was older. They were much closer to the original, pre-disney, versions. But they were still cleaned up some in comparison to the originals. The art was amazing. My favorite was the story of a woman who had been changed into a cat. Her castle was filled with cat’s who dressed in clothing and went to balls. The servants were disembodied hands. A young man arrives in poor health and is taken in and made well and eventually breaks the curse. I think I lost the book in the move before the last one. It also appears that this book is no longer available.

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  24. mmgoodsongs

    Well, as a former teacher and mother of 4 (totally different personalities) I think you are right. It depends on the child and most of the time, their age. I think most fairy tales come down to the classic good vs. evil and the good usually wins. It is also a good lesson to see that bad things happen to good people sometimes. I do like the new twists on some of the old themes that I have seen in some books and movies. I loved the movie Enchanted because it sort of debunked the cinderella myth a bit. I LOVE this topic. Could go on forever………nice post.

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  25. Elena

    I love your post. When I was a child I used to read A LOT too. Even now I am reading fairy tales but for adults, as sometimes I like to call them. But I remember that I really loved Grimm’s fairy tales and I would always ask mom to read them to me, when I was too young to know how to read. You know what I also liked: in those times, books had fewer pictures and I imagined the story in its evolution, which I think is a good exercise for your imagination. So, my first pick of fairy tales will be Grimm’s always. Then Andersen and Ion Creanga fairy tales. I think Harry Potter is not too bad also, for these times, but the classics are the best, in my opinion.

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  26. cala4lily

    My German mother read me all the fairy tales when I was young. When my nieces were little, my sister-in-law didn’t like the “gruesome” fairy tales because she thought it would give the girls nightmares. While she didn’t outright ban the stories she disapproved, but grandma read them anyway. My nieces are now in their 20s and all they remember are the stories told by grandma just before she snuggled them up in bed at night, and they loved it. When I listened to her retelling the stories as an adult I thought they were pretty gruesome, something I didn’t remember until hearing them as an adult. Perhaps we label things too much, children take the pleasure out of the fact that the adult is reading to them, taking time to make them feel safe, happy and loved; plus a little scary story only reinforces the safety provided by the adults who love them. I don’t remember the details of the stories, I remember my mothers voice reading to me as I fell asleep.

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  27. lifeandhealthadvisor

    Interestingly, a lot of fairy tales have been toned down. The “classic” versions are actually less gruesome than the originals. I also find it interesting that most people who rail against violence in movies, tv, etc. don’t have a clue about the content of fairy tales.

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  28. Evie Garone

    I loved Fairy Tales and did read them to my children daily!! My Great Aunt gave me a real Grimms Fairy Tales Book which I kept and am going to pass on to my children to read to my grandchildren. Thanks for reminding me. I read them myself and loved them!

    evelyngarone.com

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  29. Abby

    “The Bloody Chambers & other stories” by Angela Carter is an interesting book of ‘grown up’ fairy tales. Not sure I’d recommend it for a child, but you would probably find it really interesting…

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  30. CrystalSpins

    I don’t have a lot of Fairy Tale memories from childhood. Wait, I take that back — Shelly Duvall and the Faerie Tale Theatre gave me pause once or twice. When Cinderella’s siters cut off their toes in an attempt to get their feet in the glass slipper. That’s traumatizing.

    Some of the best Fairy Tales I’ve been privvy to are Sondheim’s Into the Woods. It’s an AMAZING show! I have a VHS of the the version with Bernadette Peters as the witch. So good!

    Crystal
    http://www.crystalspins.com

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  31. Joy Corcoran

    Children are very in tune to metaphors — and these magical stories are rich with them. I never had nightmares about fairy tales, but I still have nightmares about pointless graphic violence in films. I think it’s because the reading and the magic allows me to process things in my own imagination. There’s always a sens of redemption in the end that we grasp, understand on a spiritual level. It has a point, it validates the sorrows of life, and helps shape our imagination and belief that good, in the end, is more powerful magic than evil.

    For a different kind of fairytale, try the Light Princess, by George Macdonald. It was published in the mid 1800s and has a wonderful ironic tone, humor and magic. Not nearly so gruesome as some of Grimms, it deals with the human need for sorrow. I still read it at least once a year at the grand old age of 50. I found it when I was about 12 in the Junior Classics Tales of Wonder and Magic.

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

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  32. The Ardent Thread

    Lovely post! It’s wonderful to hear your son’s take on all of this. We want to protect our children and shield them from the scary parts of life, but sometimes they need to feel and understand that fear anyway. I guess it’s part and parcel of growing up.

    My father gave me a lavishly illustrated book of Russian Fairy Tales when I was smaller. It’s still one of my favourite children’s books, mainly because the tales weren’t sanitized or happy all the time. Some of them involved death, dismemberment, abuse, fear, and occasionally even a happy ending!

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  33. THE LOVE INTUITIVE

    I strongly feel that Grimm’s can play an important part in a well-rounded selection of children’s literature. Grimm’s, or even Disney material, should be only a portion of the overall material! After all Pinnocio has the little boys that turn into donkeys and go to the salt mines! Life is not a “bed of roses”. Children will take out of these classics what they, at their age group, can comprehend! I loved Grimm’s as a child. I am now 56 yrs. old. I had no dark, unsettled feelings about these classics back then and don’t now! I am a parent as well of a lovely 19 yr. old daughter. She grew up on all the classics. They all have a valuable place in our society.

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  34. FinancialTales

    The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales can be a little rough for youngsters. Make sure to read them ahead of time, absolutely. For your audience, I recommend reading a few ‘Young Tales’ from my blog if you have the chance. I wrote my Financial Tales for my four children and I hope they may be of some assistance as well.

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  35. pioneerprincess

    Personally, I think we have more range to deal with when it comes to reading aloud with our children. There is a natural sort of imagination and delight that takes over, as opposed to just sitting down with them to watch a movie, whatever rating it may be.

    I know as a child I loved reading sad or happy or scary parts of books with Dad, and we were a very conservative family. We read a lot of fairy tales and I had a rich imagination for it.

    I would say that we, as always, probably can not just make a blanket yes or no for them, though, for every child. I would think it calls for discernment for each story with each child… it is always okay to say, “You know, Mommy thinks this story is a little too scary, are you scared?” If the child says no and then gets a nightmare, well, I pray for him or her to go back to sleep with no bad dreams, and pick the book up and toss it in the garbage.

    That’s my humble opinion. 😉

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  36. blackwatertown

    You’ve got me thinking. We do not read so many of the traditional grim Grimm tales. It’s usually more up to date stories about happy tolerant children or hamsters or tales based on Irish legends or history.
    Perhaps it’s because we drum into our children how to be safe – do not go off with that stranger, accept sweets, etc.
    I remember not liking the Strewelpeter story (hope I’ve got his name right) – I think he lost his hands or fingers in a cautionary tale for children.
    Great cover on the book in your illustration at the top.
    http://www.blackwatertown.wordpress.com

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  37. Cara

    I think the great thing about fairy tales is that they give people (kids and adults) a chance to think about horrible situations without it being too real. The characters, the settings, the whole mood, and how extreme everything is in the stories… all these elements serve to separate the story from the real world, so the reader/listener can think about the way the characters act, the motives, and the horrible stuff that happens without feeling too threatened. I think it would be a real shame for kids to miss this gentle introduction to some of the harsh realities of life.

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  38. Coming East

    We read them to our children in the 70’s and they seem perfectly well-adjusted. Plus, those stories are part of our cultural literacy. Many times when we’ve been an unfamiliar place and wonder how we’ll find our way back to the main road, we’ve joked, “We should have left a trail of crumbs!” Our kids always knew what that meant. Other stories have elements we make references to, and that short reference is full of meaning because our children were raised on those stories, as I was. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

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  39. RandaKaterina

    I also feel the same, they are fairy tales that have, as I have grown up, been part of my life for many years… I am still waiting for my prince charming 😉
    Now, whether that’s right or wrong, I do not know.. but it does teach a little girl to have standards. Especially the new Disney fairy tales, they portray the “prince” as the man that is right for the woman, not necessarily the man with wealth and fortune, but the one that the “princess” falls in love with because of who he is, and how he loves her.
    I love fairy tales, the morality behind them, I believe, is believing in love & the unseen and untangible. Also, that everyone has the chance to choose which way they want to go, the right way, or the wrong way.

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  40. interpretartistmama

    I echo your consternation with Fairy Tales completely. There is a similar fairy tale in Russia (to the one where the two children are abandoned) where the mom and dad can no longer feed all of their children, so they decide, with tears in their eyes, to take them to the forest and abandon them. Their reasoning is that it would be less painful to know the children will die a quick death in the jaws of a wolf than to watch them slowly starve to death at home…The children find their way home though, and here I always wonder, as I read this to my two little ones, what the parents must be feeling as the kids burst happily through the door….

    Or take the real “Little Mermaid” – in the Hans Christian Andersen version she feels like any time she steps on something with her new legs, she is is walking on knives, what a poignant depiction of suffering for love….Or my personal “favorite” – Bluebeard by Charles Perrault. What a terrible, terrible story! Great material for a Hannibal sequel.

    Some stories (like Bluebeard) I chose not to read to my children, because they kind of frighten me, personally. Others I try to sugar-coat, still others (like “Mommy, why did they just leave all of their kids in the forst?”) I am forced to try and explain. (Like: Well, you see, poverty is a terrible thing. Sometimes when you are very hungry, you can make poor choices and then regret them….like…err…..when you eat ice-cream before lunch, and then your belly aches…yeah.)

    Thank you for a thought-provoking post!

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  41. atozmom

    Research shows fairy tales are essential to kids’ learning. They need to learn right from wrong and fairy tales have definitive answers. They teach kids who’s good and who’s bad and in the end things usually work out–just like real life. In these days where so many parents don’t teach morals and values fairy tales are even more essential than ever before.

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  42. thewritingt

    One that I would defiantly NOT recommend reading to a child is most of the stories in Arabian Nights. It gets close to pornographic at times, and is defiantly an older-teen or adult book.
    That being said it’s a massive collection of stories with some fantastic wisdom mixed in.

    Reply
  43. Kate

    I LOVE fairy tales. I have a whole collection of stories from all sorts of cultures and did my senior thesis on the origin of some of these stories. Most were evening entertainment after the kids went to bed and some even contained a fair amount of sexual situations in their origional form! But I love them all the same.

    Thank you for this post. I love to get back to basics sometimes and the fairy tales of my childhood are as basic as it comes!.

    Reply
  44. Allegra

    The classic Grimms fairy tales should be read to children regardless of gruesome details because, like you said, when the story is resolved, kids feel that all is right with the world and that good will ultimately triumph over evil. Child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim tells us that fairy tales are even more meaningful to adolescents then young children because the stories tackle topics of growing up and the typical teenage angst of feeling the world has turned against you. For this reason, the watered-down versions of fairy tales ( a la Disney) should not be considered more “appropriate” replacements for the originals.

    Reply
  45. The Curtal Friar

    Oh, by all means I think we should read fairy tales to children. I am by no means an historian, but in my opinion, I think today’s attitude about fairy tales was largely influenced by the likes of Walt Disney, who took all the old tales and made them sugary sweet.
    There seems to be a prevailing opinion these days that kids should only be exposed to things that are flowery and light-hearted, and avoid anything dark or scary or gruesome, even if it ends happily.
    Rubbish, I say.
    Now, I don’t think children should be exposed to gratuitous violence, or darkness for the sake of darkness, or anything of the sort, but fairy tales don’t fit that category, in my opinion. There almost always is an underlying moral, and good almost always triumphs in the end, and the violence and darkness that one encounters in fairy tales serve a legitimate purpose.
    That’s my two cents.

    Reply
  46. theraven4123

    Once while I was at the library,I was browsing in the far corners of the fiction section, I came across an illustrated copy of a few of Edgar Allen Poe’s stories.It seems that some young man had a very interesting idea to turn four of Mr. Poe’s tales(The Black Cat,The Masque of the Red Death, Hop-Frog, and The Fall of the House of Usher) into a picture book.I have to truely commend Gris Grimly the illustrator,as he did a marvoulus job with it, and I really was pulled into the stories.However I do not think these should really be in the picture book section as they are graphic(although notas bad as what you can sometimes see on tv)it must’ve been why it was on some lonely dust-covered shelf. Anyways, This is a wonderful way to first introduce someone into the writings of poe(I was actually only vaugly aware of Poe’s works until this book) and i would recomend it to anyone. It really did bring back memories,reading a picture book….

    Book:Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Madness illustrated by Gris Grimly

    Reply
  47. mybakingempire

    I don’t think there’s a problem with darker fairy tales. Any of you see Bambi as a kid? And that’s a children’s movie. Like you say, not everything is roses and no thorns, and ultimately a good story is a good story! Like the commenter above, I don’t believe gratuitous violence and darkness is a good idea, but this is real life and maybe it’s better to ease them into the darker side of the world in the comfortable and controlled environment of your home.

    Reply
  48. Nikole Hahn

    My favorite is the old story of Cinderella. There were three balls and not one talking mice in any of the pages. LOL. I loved the old Grimm’s tale of Cinderella. It was more interesting than Disney’s version. I still love Grimm’s. I still love fairy tales. They are bloody. They have witches and all kinds of things, but they are classic tales of good vs evil. I seem to recall people putting down the cartoon of Tom and Jerry because it was too violent. If we do not equip our children to face the uncertainy of the world, they will grow up thinking there are no dragons to slay. With this thinking, they will get hurt far worse emotionally, financially, and physically. Give them a sword and teach them how to slay the dragons. I think fairy tales are good for children.

    Reply
  49. amandab75

    Dadda has had issues with fairy tales before, because all the Princes had their heads chopped of in one version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses that we read, but Princess didn’t bat an eyelash. Whilst I think kids understand the differences between books and real life, sometimes I think they just don’t hear or gloss over the gruesome bits and absorb what they want to from the story.

    “The Girl with No Hands” would have freaked me out though!

    Reply
  50. Ishana

    Kids need to see the darker sides of the world, too. People can’t grow up thinking everything is sunshine and daisies. Bad things happen, but the point is (as most fairy tales point out), if you persevere, you will come out on top. Even when things get bad, you have to stay strong and do what you believe is right. We can’t shelter our kids forever, as much as we want to keep them from harm. Finding Nemo tried to get that message across.

    Thanks for the post, I enjoyed it.

    Reply
  51. motherwho

    Congratulations on Freshly Pressed! It’s funny, as I read your post I remembered the enormous book of fairy tales I used to have my head stuck in as a child. Reading your account of some of them today I am a lot more horrified that I was back then. I don’t remember ever feeling terrified by the stories – more a sense of excitement and wonder at the strange lands, people and actions. I now have a 6 month old little girl, and that same fairy tale book is lodged in amongst all the modern books we have been given… She’s a bit too young at the moment but I’m sure I will read them to her when she’s older.

    Great post! Looking forward to reading more 🙂

    Reply
  52. Miss Jabberwock

    Love this post! I remember “Blue Beard” being my favorite fairy tale for a long time. I’m not sure why this was my favorite, I suspect that it had something to do with the idea of a blue beard and the fact that he got sliced in half at the end. I envisioned it differently as a kid, like the cartoons that cut in half like paper. Now that I’m older I imagine it more realistically and think why did I like this story?
    The only Grimm’s tale that I wouldn’t read to my five year old would be “The Robber Bridegroom.” I think kids today can get all wishy-washy with Dora or any of the other little kids shows where the baddest bad guy just takes stuff and hides it, how about a real story?

    Reply
  53. rdzemo

    Grimms Fairy tales are told for kids, but the ethics they portray is for grown-ups. There isn’t an age I think I will leave them aside. This is a very insightful and educative post on Fairy tale. “The Ethics of Elfland” is a chapter in Chesterton’s Orthodoxy which I strongly recommend for grown-ups.

    Reply
  54. angelicroze

    I was just wondering, if you dont like thos bad parts in those stories, why dont you just write your own version of them? I mean, they are not that long and you would have a lovely handmedowns for future grandchildren?
    And if you read a lot i’m sure you can do it=)

    Reply
  55. Colin L Beadon

    Fairies and Gnomes are real, life Father Christmas and Little Red Riding-hood, and Humpty Dumpty. But only if you believe in them, and Heaven, and Hell, and getting rich, and keeping fit and strong, and finding a good job, and that you will fall in love, forever, and ever, and ever, Amen.
    Take that !!!! From this Ancient. And don’t ask me anything more. For there really isn’t anything more,…. but what you believe.
    Our knowledge, like our languages, are pure metaphorical constructions. So they can changed by what we say, and fully to heart, believe.

    Reply
  56. Kristen

    I had to think about fairy tales very often, in depth and for a long period of time for awhile… My senior honors thesis was about fairy tales.

    Reply
  57. jean

    I actually was not exposed to any fairy tales until I could understand and read English. And I was born in Canada, but immersed in my mother tongue environment (Chinese) while growing up Ontario until kindergarten. So that means it wasn’t until it wasn’t until around age 7 I started to properly read some words. Neither parent read fairy tales nor story books to us. Just wasn’t in their traditional upbringing. (And no they didn’t bother to tell us stories, myths nor fairy tales either.)

    So I read both the sanitized North American versions and later Brothers Grimm. Admittedly I was bewildered and surprised as a child reading some of this drastic violence. But I wasn’t scared/damaged since I already read the sanitized versions. I just didn’t enjoy some the violent versions as much but understood the intent at that tender age. I was reading way ahead of my level (to ramp up my English language skills), so I considered the fairy tales..as just fairy tales.

    It’s one thing to read words with 1-2 handdrawn illustrations, but imagine if some of these violent fairy tales were put into video interpretations.
    My partner is originally from Germany. He most definitely agrees the German fairy tales were more brutal, violent. He was told those tales as a boy in Germany. It just reflected at the time of Grimm and many years later, an authoritarian way of child-rearing. To him, Grimm fairy tales are quite traditional German in style.

    Great post! (We visited southern Germany this past June, it’s in my blog…food, the art, etc. But no fairy tales.)

    Reply
  58. Amy

    I don’t see a problem with the gruesome versions of fairy tales. My mom used to tell me about the one with the lady that wanted to dance, and she got some magic shoes. However, when she got tired she couldn’t take the shoes off, so she cut off her feet. LOL

    And then there was the story with the two sisters that were supposed to give water to an old lady. The one who did had diamonds and riches coming out of her mouth, and the other who didn’t had reptiles coming out of hers. xD

    I came out fine xD I swear.

    Also, the original version of The Little Mermaid is so so SO sad.

    Reply
  59. Linda

    We had that book when I was growing up. I remember it very well. Grimm’s Fairy Tales. It was a paper back and had a bright light yellow border and the illustration on the front was black and white. Even as a child I wondered why in the world we had such a horrible book in our house.

    I was intrigued by it and sometimes I was brave enough to give it a try but I would always come away scared witless! I still don’t like it.

    Too study them and pick them all apart as an adult would be interesting but they seem a bit much for kids, too me anyway.

    Reply
  60. Linda

    Me again! My five year old grandson asked me for the words to Rock a Bye Baby. I guess thats the name of it. He sang the first line or two then asked for the rest. I have always thought that was a horrible horrible thing to sing to a child so I just made up some words and told him that I didn’t really remember them that well.

    Reply
  61. inkgwen

    “But I think reading or telling Fairy Tales is still part of our culture (definitively of mine) and these stories should have their place in our children’s life”

    I couldn’t agree more! But it seems this important part of our children’s development is being neglected. Glad to see that you are keeping the fairy tales alive! 🙂

    I wrote about this same thing, not too long ago…
    Who IS Humpty Dumpty??

    Reply
  62. CaramelBliss

    Well, not too long ago I read my alomst 5 year old girl an original about red riding hood.It was pretty grusome and freaked me out even more when I did some research on the original story. Apparently ‘red’ is the color of a whore. She went into the woods with it on against her mother’s wishes which is why the wolf wanted to eat her so bad. I don’tknow. Anyway, these old fairy tales seem to have been based on teaching children back then ‘lessons’ on life and how they should act. Of course, these days it’s been switched to something of heros and wishing hard. On going for what you want and making your happy ending.

    Reply
  63. eternallee

    I don’t know if you have original versions of some of the famous fairy tales, but they often end badly! I took a course on children’s stories; I remember vaguely something about fairy tales being sick and twisted because they were designed for adults’ amusement, but over retellings and time they gradually became the versions we read our kids today. Of course even the “tamer” versions don’t necessarily lose their, erm, luster.

    Reply
  64. Liz

    I grew up reading and hearing the sweetened and not so terrifying versions of fairy tales, and I loved them! It wasn’t until later in my life that I learned about the truly horrific parts of the fairy tales.
    As disturbing as they can be, I kind of think that sometimes that can be an incentive to get older boys to read them–No preteen boy would be caught dead with a book of fairy tales, but maybe in their secret reading time, maybe.
    Fairy tales still entice and enchant me. There’s just something magical about them.
    http://polkadotsock.wordpress.com

    Reply
  65. azulfenix

    I have a book like that. My 5 yr old insists that we read from it every single night. She too had the wide eyed look too when i read her the story about the girl with no hands. But she too felt better when the fairy tale ended happily. If anything she enjoys the Brother’s Grimm books. Surprised me that she didn’t have any nitemares. I,too, would love some mores suggestions for books. She doesn’t like the Dora books. If there isn’t some sort of fantasy book she gets bored with it easily. I see that how I process the information and how she processes the information is completely different. When I think of it in child-like terms its not so bad. Of course when she asks what something means I am careful to explain what it truly means. But I definitely wouldn’t stop reading the stories to her.

    Reply
  66. Roda

    Talking from the view-point of the reader (and not the kids read to) I can tell you that reading aloud to kids keeps you young at heart forever. I have been teaching english to kids through play i.e. reading stories to them for the last 10 years and its an activity that has given me as much joy as the kids that were read to. Some of the kids (they live all around my house) started with me when they were two and stayed with me till they were twelve. At that age they read to me and I taught them word building with scrabble. Learning is forever if you have an open mind.

    Reply
  67. terryludwig

    Love the post and the comments. I have always loved fairy tales but was not exposed to the true tales until I was an adult. My brothers and I were told (not read) the stories that were popular and passed down. They were very happy and fun and even the sad tales seemed uplifting. My brother gave me a copy of the complete work of the Brothers Grimm a few years ago. What a great book, and there were stories I have never heard of. Since then I have purchased a few others that have different variations to those tales. There are some that are so gruesome it boggles the mind.
    I told my children the same tales I was told when they little and read some of the Disney versions to them. I also taught them Nursery Rhymes which you don’t hear much about now. I believe that it is important to read to children no matter what the material. When my children were little I was in school and didn’t have time for extra reading so I read my text books to them. It is more the closeness and the sound of your voice that they need then any specific story.

    Reply
  68. Thaís Gisele

    First of all, I want to say that I loved your post.

    I’m not ashamed to say that today, I love fairy tales. I’m Brazilian but I was raised by my grandparents who were German. My grandmother used to read fairy tales to me and my cousins. From an early age I’ve always heard the “real” version with the deaths and violence and everything else. Of course the way I saw those stories was different from the way I see them today. But I thank my grandmother for have never “edited” the stories.

    Once, an aunt asked my grandmother why she did not have the ‘Disney’ versions instead of the originals. My grandmother replied, “because children are not stupid, my dear. And they must learn that even in a fairy tale, life isn’t a fairy tale. ”
    🙂

    Reply
  69. zakton

    I recently read one or two fairy tales from Grimm’s and HC Andersen’s and also found them a bit horrifying. We have to select stories that we read to children. Even Narnia, I find a bit misguiding as Aslan often appears divine.

    Reply
  70. 2zpoint

    My 4 year old has a clear cut view of people due to reading things such as these. I would stop and explain things in away he could understand them (occasionally omitting something too gory) He definitely has a high level sense of right and wrong. He always ask questions and wants to know the consequences of what is going on at the time especially if something was done that seemed wrong to him.

    Reply
  71. Baby Gates

    I like this story and must say a little adventure is probably a good thing.
    The only advice I would give parents is watch what you put in their minds if it is to bad just don’t do it I would not let a child watch rated R or any other inappropriate rating just to keep from turning the channel or any other media you know what I mean.

    Reply
  72. akasha73

    Nice post!
    I loved reading fairy tales back when I was still young. By the time we grew up and understand the realities in life we then realize that there are certain things that could only happen on those stories. I still enjoy watching certain shows that are based on fairy tales though. 🙂

    Buy FF14 Account

    Reply
  73. Lindsey

    I think fantasy world allow us the most freedom for discovery. When we are outside of our element, we can explore abstract thought outside the rules of earth. I think reading fairy tales to kids is essential. It get them to think outside the box. Imagination is so crucial. It makes you more creative, more compassionate, and a more interesting person. Loved the post! And I love that fairytales are back in fashion!

    Reply
  74. The Mental Secretary

    I don’t remember this, but my mother told me that the movie The Fox and the Hound had me swelling with tears. I guess that’s a pretty traumatizing movie for children. Aside from that, I think reading Grimm fairytales is good because children are going to have to learn about death and bad guys some day.

    Reply
  75. Spiral

    I loved Fairy Tales as a kid. Still do. But now I think a lot of them are sexist. They can still be fun but I think I will encourage widespread reading in my kids and discuss what they read/see/hear etc.

    Reply
  76. Nyah

    it is also in my mental grasp that my daughter would relate the stories as gruesome and would eventually conceived it uninspiring. but you know what it depends with how the child interprets what we adults have interpreted to them. my daughter understands it as the battle of the good and evil…and now that she is 7years old, the magic of the fairy tales that she had read still lingers in her as an inspiration…

    nice post!

    Reply
  77. maggieai

    Yes, i like fairy tales and when i am a little girl, i really hope i will encounter my prince in future.
    i met three boys after i become mature. they, maybe, are prince, but when i was with them, i feel they are not. actually, nobody is perfect. so i just want to say, guys, if you regard yourself as a princess, the other man is your prince.
    welcome to my blog:
    http://swbox.wordpress.com/

    Reply
  78. lozenga

    I’m hugely interested in Fairy Tales at the moment and will be studying them over the next year as the basis of my dissertation, I love the issues you raise and found your take on them interesting! Thanks!

    Reply
  79. briellethefirst

    My parents read to us too. Mostly it was my Dad’s job. When he got tired of the simple stuff he moved on to Grimm as you did. After that he read us tales of Arthur, the Norse Sagas, Beowulf, Mark Twain, Kipling and whatever he thought was interesting. When my kids were bedtime-story age I lost my voice for about a year & 1/2, so lots of story-times were lost & had to be made up with mimes, movies & creative reversals with the kids making stuff up when their dad was out of town. One of their favourite storybooks turned out to be Robert Fulghum’s All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. We read anything, anytime, anywhere and often made things up as we went along if we didn’t have a family story that could serve to pass the time. My younger sisters forbade me to fill their kids heads with such nonsense. My kids asked their grandmother what was wrong with their aunts & the answer had something to do with them having a lack of imagination, so my kids became storytellers. My kids ended up more well adjusted, less confused, more creative and adventurous with well developed sense of justice. I credit the story sessions, but an open atmosphere for discussion could also have something to do with it.

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  80. Marie

    Great post 🙂 I’m always really interested in the history of fairy tales and the relationships kids have with them these days.

    I think they (hopefully!) remain to be an important aspect of growing up, whether we know it or not; it’s telling that as adults we can recollect them in an instant.

    Interesting comment from Spiral about fairy tales as sexist! I wrote my university dissertation on this topic. Recommended reads (for adults only!) are Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, which challenges the way women are represented in the classic tales, and her Book of Fairy Tales (which is lovely even just to look at!)

    Thanks!

    Reply
  81. carpediemtattoo

    what a nice post!!
    I should say that I live far, far away from the culture of Grimm brothers. But my country/culture as well, has lots of tales! And yeah there were gruesome details, which made me shudder when I was a kid n I wondered if these stories were true (like, for example, can a woman really married to a dog?). These stories get revised into a more ‘friendly’ language and story-telling to younger generations, but hence, there were lack of interesting things which trigger curiosity and yes, imagination. Story-telling is good, because you can still choose proper words or explain more things to your kid 🙂

    Some of Indonesia’s famous fairy tales have bad karma endings. Like a boy who was cursed and turned into a stone after he reject and denied his own mother…that’s a scary thing, but it teach people to respect their parents 🙂

    Reply
  82. Little Interpretations

    Great post 🙂 I’m always really interested in the history of fairy tales and the relationships kids have with them these days.

    I think they (hopefully!) remain to be an important aspect of growing up, whether we know it or not; it’s telling that as adults we can recollect them in an instant.

    Interesting comment from Spiral about fairy tales as sexist! I wrote my university dissertation on this topic. Recommended reads (for adults only!) are Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, which challenges the way women are represented in the classic tales, and her Book of Fairy Tales (which is lovely even just to look at!)

    Reply
  83. Ryan McGivern

    I suggest a reading of Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories” on the narrower genre of ‘fairy-proper’ tales.
    Also, here’s a link to my updated version of the Brothers Grimm “The Boy Who Learned What It Was To Shuddder”
    http://mindflowers.net/2010/02/28/i-know-now-what-it-is-to-shudder-from-a-valedictory-for-kierkegaard/

    And here’s a link on an essay upon fairy tales and psychology. (Sometimes a wolf is not just a wolf.)
    http://www.mccarter.org/Education/secretinthewings/page16.htm

    Reply
  84. mypurplehoneyjar

    I really enjoyed your post! Especially the illustrations! I am currently at the age were all my friends are settling down and starting their own families. And I often listen to new “modern” parents debating over which fairy tales to share with their children or whether to share them at all. There are feminist objections, concerns about violence and ethics and so forth…..
    In my mind the matter is simple, children NEED fairy tales!

    My mom read to me from a Grimm collection, which was a beautiful book of biblical proportions filled with fantastical illustrations. And when I was old enough I read to her from the same book. I have very fond memories of interacting with the illustrations and becoming enthralled in the tales. Whether it was one of the more grim tales or the typical princess in distress stories. It was a very important and integral part of my childhood, and influenced my art and philosophy to this day.

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  85. batikmania

    Nice posting. I’d like to read some more classic fairy tales now, while the books are rarely available in the bookstore. More comics lately. I can’t say I dislike comics, but I think reading fairy tales will be good for our kids. Many values can be obtained from those tales. Hm… I even thinking of writing some and publish it. Well… someday. I put it in my mind. I’ll start writing, then 😉 Thanks for the inspiration.

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  86. Emily Kuross

    Hi! I have no children myself, but we always read lots of the traditional fairy tales growing up and I remember finding them by far the most wonderful and satisfying, even if they did give me some little shivers of fright. Have you read this blog at all? http://www.childrensliteraturenetwork.org/blog/sss/
    It’s by a woman who is a storyteller and children’s book writer and it’s really all about why kids need those real old tales, not just the frilly Disney-fied ones you see so often these days.

    Reply
  87. diabolik181

    Thank you for your superb post. My mother’s maiden name is Hansel, and my step-father didn’t want to feed me (though I love the old guy dearly now). When I was young, my mom read the Brother Grimm stories and also Mother Goose. I then found Star Wars, which is kind of a fairy tale, and that held me, along with Tolkien, until university where I first began Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folk Tale. That lead me to Aleksandr Afanasev’s Russian Fairy Tales (a wonderful, wonderful book). I continued to study fairy tales after school and a fascination with Japanese stories inspired me to quit my job and move to Japan, where I now feel like Urashima Taro as the rest of the world passes me by. All in all, fairy tales have accompanied me on a great life so far. I’m very thankful for them.

    Reply
  88. lenanozizwe

    Thank God for fairy tales. They helped me through my Ugly Betty stage when I dealt with a lot of mean girls. It gave me something to dream about. As a grown up I have been able to make many of those dreams come true. My teachers were worried that I spent so much time in Fairy tale Land. Not me
    http://lenanozizwe.wordpress.com

    Reply
  89. Iris

    I haven’t read as many fairytales as I would like. I could say that my childhood was lacking in that aspect, but it was not because my parents did not try. Quite simply, they had the older versions of fairytales which were a bit too scary for me and it was me who shrank from hearing and/or reading them. So I think in the end it really depends on the kind of child whether or not these more “gruesome” tales should be part of your reading material. I do regret not hearing more fairytales when I was younger now, but surely we can’t force scary stories on our children because we feel they should hear them all? At least, that is what I think I would feel if I had children of my own..

    Reply
  90. Lynn Bridge

    I found it difficult to read the unsanitized versions of fairy tales to my own children, although I myself was exposed to the originals, and seem none the worse for wear. Real life (gruesome accidents, illness, death) seemed more horrible to me than something in a story. Good endings made the difference between unbearable and fascinating in the old fairy tales.

    Reply
  91. Adriana Cabrera Esteve

    Halo,
    I were very pleased to read your text on fairy tales. Indeed, I´m a writer and I use to write novels for children. (In spanish, of course, just know I´m fighting with your language) So, everytime I have to choose what my charaters should do I wonder the same things: ¿how that thing is going to influence my readers? Just like a mother does. And then I make the same decision taked with my own children: not bring up them in a bubble because they need learn to deal with the world like it is. Of course, there are limits, but nothing like a mother´s intuition to make the choice.

    Reply
  92. Pumpkinhead

    Yes, that’s very true. Fairy Tale actually can be more horrible than horror movies, if they change the point of view and delete the moral. I remember one book I red — the title is “Nightmare and Fairy Tale”, if I’m not wrong. At first I thought it wasn’t a horror book at all, but after I red it….

    …Oh, well. I have developed fear to Snow White since then. Literally. 😦

    Reply
  93. joshsuds

    You definitely struck a chord with this post 🙂 I remember reading fairy tales and stories as a child that didn’t seem scary at all back then. However, when I look at them now, as an adult, they seem demented and gruesome. (Here’s one of my posts about a scary book I borrowed from the library once: http://joshsuds.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/the-library-book-summer-1989/

    I think the difference is that, when we think of death as adults now, we have a better understanding of the pain that can be involved. Anyway, great post!

    Reply
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  95. josiecat

    I grew up with the clean-cut Disney versions of fairy tails. When I acctually herd some of the original versions, I was supprised at the difference, but I was interested none the less. One that really stands out to me is the Little Mermaid. Even though the original version of the Little Mermaid ends sadly, it is beautiful in it’s own way.

    Reply
  96. sayitinasong

    I used to love Hans Christian Andersen fairytales when growing up! And I always had a facination with Christmas stories… :o)… yes, reading to your children- and encouraging them to read is very important!!

    Reply
  97. bookjunkie

    I don’t regret reading fairy tales even though I was traumatized as a 4 year old when I heard about the little mermaid turning into foam or any of the characters ‘dying’.

    Reply
  98. coffeepotson

    I really enjoyed reading this post.Brothers Grimm have many wonderful tales,i know alot of them well.My two daughters are grown now ,but two Grimm tales that they enjoyed were Hansel and Gretel ,and of course Rapunzel. Alot of the Grimm tales have daring elements ,fascinating stories none the less .Thankyou

    Reply
  99. sarahforward

    I think that every child should not be left out on fairy tales. The “once a upon a times” and “happily every afters” are always appreciated by children. For me, personally, some of these fairy tales got me through some tough times during my childhood and it gave me hope that the good will always triumph. It’s good that there are still books that tells the original stories of the fairy tales. I became only aware now that there have been new stories and versions to tell. I only wish that the generation of children today will not be too cool and too busy with new modern gadgets and technology to not read fairy tales anymore 🙂

    Reply
  100. HimThatIs

    An interesting and humorous(for adults) alternative would be Politically Correct Fairy Tales. That’s close to the title. I had it to read to my niece, but it got “borrowed” by a friend and lost forevermore. It is an interesting spin on the old tales that does get old, but is so worth reading. It may a valuable, or at least thoughtful, perspective on the Grimm Brothers tales. Enjoy reading.

    Reply
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  105. Christina1122

    My siblings and I grew up devouring every fairy tale available! Yes, they can be gruesome and gory at times, but none of us were every traumatized. Fairy tales hold messages of valour, chivalry, humility, perseverance, kindness… (the list goes on). It’s Bratz dolls, Pokemon and Monster High that scare me, and even Dora with her big creepy head and eyes!

    Reply

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