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Are Fairy Tales Passe?

Are Classic Fairy Tales a Thing of the Past?

Are the fairy tales we grew up with (not to mention our parents and grandparents) too scary and politically incorrect for our children? According to a nationwide survey in Great Britain, The Baby Website found that one in four moms forgo classics such as Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood over The Very Hungry Caterpillar or The Gruffalo.

Traditional fairy tales were first popularized in the early 1800s with the publishing of The Brothers Grimm's Fairy Tales in 1812 and Hans Christian Andersen's Complete Fairy Tales and Stories in 1835. The stories have been told to generations of children through various waves of social reforms, but today's parents deem the classics to be too scary (Hansel and Gretel are abandoned in a forest) or not PC (the dwarfs in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). The survey revealed that parents feared that this text would give their tots nightmares, with 65 percent saying they purposely choose happy stories for bedtime reading.

Tell us, have you abandoned traditional fairy tales for more modern storytelling? To see the survey's top 10 bedtime storybooks, as well as the classics we are neglecting,


TOP BEDTIME STORIES OF 2008 according to The Baby Website

  1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
  2. Mr Men, Roger Hargreaves
  3. The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson
  4. Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne
  5. Aliens Love Underpants, Claire Freedman & Ben Cort
  6. Thomas and Friends from The Railway Series, Rev.W.Awdry
  7. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
  8. What a Noisy Pinky Ponk!, Andrew Davenport
  9. Charlie and Lola, Lauren Child
  10. Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Robert Southey

TOP 10 FAIRY TALES WE NO LONGER READ according to The Baby Website

  1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  2. Hansel and Gretel
  3. Cinderella
  4. Little Red Riding Hood
  5. The Gingerbread Man
  6. Jack and the Beanstalk
  7. Sleeping Beauty
  8. Beauty and the Beast
  9. Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  10. The Emperor’s New Clothes


Join The Conversation
Sarana Sarana 8 years
How do you tell Snow White without saying the queen wanted her to be killed? That way the mirror also won't work right?
gaellemj gaellemj 8 years
What about Charles Perrault? He was the first to compile and publish in 1697 the stories of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, the little red riding hood... There is no need to cut out parts of those tales. I actually find it absolutely absurd. First children like getting scared. Second those tales teach important facts and what is forbidden as incest. They are educationnal tools and have deeper meaning than just scary stories. You can read "the uses of Enchantment" by Bruno Bettelheim, a child psychologist, to understand the importance of keeping the original fairy tales, not the Disney ones, and to read those to our children.
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 8 years
:oy: When I have children they will be read the classics ALONG with the new fairy tales. I understand wanting to protect your child from the "scariness" of life however I think avoiding "Cinderella" or "Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs" is going too extremes.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
I was raised on the traditional classic tales, by Hans Christian Anderson and Grimms Fairy tales and all the others, and let me tell you my kids will know the REAL story of the little mermaid, and the Hunchback and all the other stories that Disney and Society has dumbed down. You just have to carefully time these stories to coincide with what your childs maturity level is.
LilaBo LilaBo 8 years
"As childcare professional with extensive education and training on the subject, I find it absurd to censor traditional fairy tales" -- i am too, a childcare professional and certified elementary teacher, but WHY in god's name would i want to explain to my 3 1/2 year old why the queen wanted snow white to be taken to the woods and KILLED ??? that, to me is absurd. by censoring it, she can still enjoy the story, but without the violence.
Moms Moms 8 years
death by chocolate — I took a "truth about fairy tales" literature class in college too and wow, it really changes your perception of things!
telane telane 8 years
lilegwene - I remember the little goose girl!!!! I used to read those myself when I was younger - at about 12-14 - not quite as young as to need a bedtime story. I don't think I would read them to kids that young, but they are a great part of history, and I think that everyone should read at least ONE original. It's very interesting!
lilegwene lilegwene 8 years
Agree with death by chocolat! The classics ARE too scary! We're not talking about the Disney versions, but the "real" original fairy tales. They are creepy. I doubt any people in our age group have grown up with those being read. My mom is from Germany, and she has some German fairytale books from when she was little. They are frightening! I remember The Goose Girl being particularly frightening because the princess is being blackmailed by her maid, and one of the things her maid does is kills and chops up her horse. Then the princess has to go by the dead horse's head everyday and it talks to her. At the end the maid was graphically killed. There is another one, complete with scary pictures, about how if you don't cut your fingernails this evil guys comes and cuts off your fingers with hedge clippers. I think these are amazing stories and books and should be cherished for the culture and time period they came from, but newer versions of the fairy tales and books such as the Hungry Caterpillar are probably more appropriate. :P
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 8 years
That;s very interesting. The new books seem like nice selections, but what's wrong with the fairy tales? I think it's good for kids to be exposed to them early, since they are often alluded to in our culture.
Dana-Ann Dana-Ann 8 years
As childcare professional with extensive education and training on the subject, I find it absurd to censor traditional fairy tales. These stories are classics for a reason. In 13 years of teaching I have never experienced a child who had nightmares due to fairy tales. I do, however, include the newer more humorous versions (such as The True Story of the Three Little Pigs which is told from the Wolf's perspective) in my fairy tale readings as well as the traditional ones. I feel it is important to expose children to many types of literature at a young age.
death-by-chocolat death-by-chocolat 8 years
Oh my, lol, some of these people need to get their hands on the REAL original versions. The ones actually straight from the Brothers' Grimm. If you're ever interested in some (adult) fun, track down a copy- they're loaded with sexuality, various forms of torture, incestuous themes, themes against women, all in the form of a magical kingdom with talking animals. My college actually had a whole literature class centered around studying fairytales- once you know the "originals", it kind of ruins the Disney version for you!
mstrauss mstrauss 8 years
Why not read the old and the new? My son is still too young to understand the stories, but my neices and nephews love the classics! And they love the classic Disney movies, even though there are scary moments. We read and watched them, didn't we?!? Why are our children any different?
LilaBo LilaBo 8 years
we still read cinderella, snow white, sleeping beauty, and all the princess stories. the newer versions are more "child friendly" and are not so scary. i have a book with the original versions too, and i find that i need to be very creative while reading-- changing several words and censoring quite a bit. i had forgotten how scary and violent these stories were!!
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