I have to admit, I have a very complicated relationship with fairy tales. I heard them often as a child, and know teachers that still swear by them. They are often considered the “bread and butter” of oral storytelling! I see how they are so easy to tell and retell with young children who benefit from hearing stories repeated at least three times. (Ever wonder why a toddler or young preschooler asks for stories over and over again? Just working on processing a comfortable tale!)
But many fairy tales were created so long ago, when child-rearing was, well, different. Most were told as cautionary tales for children, so they contain things that are scary or violent. I mean, do we need to tell kids that there is a mean witch in the forest with a candy house who is waiting to eat them in order to stop kids from wandering? My guess is probably not. Unless it’s Little Witch Hazel (by Phoebe Wahl) waiting for me in a forest, I’m all set.
I’m also not a huge fan of the old princess trope either, that they are just dainty girls waiting to be saved-and married-by a prince. We can save ourselves! And gender is a social construct anyway! Ahem.
It’s also important to point out that most of the fairy tales we hear in America are all European-based and leave out many other cultures that also have rich oral storytelling traditions. (More on that in a later post.)
This doesn’t mean that I completely dislike or am against fairy tales. No, not at all! At least, not all of them. This is just my very long-winded way of saying that I am so happy we have “fractured fairy tales” too. Where the tales of old are spun around and reimagined in ways that feel more modern, but are just as interesting and engaging for little readers!
Above is a link to a list I put together with 13 fractured tales that will be fun to read whether or not you and your children love traditional fairy tales.