Inside: Fairy tale books — and the ever popular fractured fairy tale — make for outstanding read alouds with your kids. And they have so many remarkable benefits too. Check out some of our favorites below!
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Fairy Tale Books and Fractured Fairy Tales are Better than Ever!
You’ve read them a hundred times. Maybe more. Little Red Riding Hood. Goldilocks. The Three Little Pigs.
I mean, in this day and age, do we really want to teach our daughters that they need a prince to rescue them? Many fairy tales seem to relay messages we aren’t always eager to share with our children. So why read them? Do fairy tales still have a place in our modern lives?
Yes! Without a doubt.
Fairy tale books have wide ranging benefits for children.
Traditional fairy tales teach our children so much about the world, our emotions, and even how to safely navigate problems and challenges. Child psychologist Sally Goddard Blythe puts it perfectly:
“Fairy tales are important not because they show children how life is, but because they give form to deep fears and dreams about life through fantasy,” Goddard Blythe says.
Goddard Blythe continues on to say that fairy tales are very clearly not the real world, and thus offer kids a safe haven in which to explore big emotions and challenging situations. Why? Because children recognize that fairy tale worlds are unlike their own. Yet, even though fairy tale worlds and characters may be unfamiliar, the emotions faced by fairy tale characters are often true to life.
When princes and princess, witches and anthropomorphic animals experience fear, sadness, excitement or courage, children gain valuable life lessons in learning not just how to understand these feelings, but how to respond to them, too.
Further, fairy tale books that explore good versus evil help provide certainty to children who may feel some anxiety.
Even when a “good” character experiences setbacks or hardships, kids take heart in the fact that a character is nonetheless on the right path because of his or her honesty or strong moral compass. This understanding is extraordinarily valuable to children, especially as it teaches that evil and harmful conduct has consequences.
But what about those evil wicked witches? I don’t want to scare my kids!
Let’s be honest. Some of these fairy tales are downright frightening! But you know what? This isn’t actually a bad thing.
Trying to pretend there’s no evil in the world doesn’t always protect our kids. It can be better to introduce this notion through made up stories like fairy tale books which provide children a safe haven in which to explore and begin to understand that the world is not always easy or fair. Fairy tales reflect this fact in a way that little ones will comprehend. And when “good” characters prevail at the conclusion of fairy tales — despite the evil — the importance of kindness, integrity and morality is rewarded greatly. That is a beautiful thing for young children to see.
Simply put: fairy tale books teach kids to deal with basic human conflicts, emotions and challenges in a safe and healthy manner.
Fairy tale books teach kids the elements of story.
One of my favorite benefits of reading fairy tale books to children?
They are the most perfect tools to teach kids the elements of story!
From rich settings to even richer characterization, from clear beginnings, middles and ends to understanding the important distinctions between fiction and non-fiction, fairy tales provide so much material to teach kids these critical skills. Understanding how a story “works” is essential when it comes to reading comprehension.
Don’t forget fractured fairy tales!
And let’s not forget about fractured fairy tales, because once your children know the classics, these spinoffs are oh-so-much fun!
Fractured fairy tales are rewritten fairy tales that take the classic fairy tale stories and turn them on their heads! They are modifications of the original stories, swapping out particular components like characters or settings for new elements that are totally different, and sometimes totally bizarre. The stories are still recognizable, but with fun — and often absurd! — twists.
Whether you experiment with point of view (ie., telling the story of Little Red Riding Hood through the wolf’s eyes,) place the story in a modern or unique setting (ie., telling stories such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty in a galaxy far, far away), swap out characters (subbing in dinosaurs for bears in Goldilocks), or, my personal favorite turn damsels in distress into powerful female heroes, these stories are usually laugh out loud funny, make for great read-alouds, and allow children to create their own spins on their favorite stories.
So what are you waiting for?? Both fairy tale books and fractured fairy tales are so beneficial to read to young children, and we’ve got a whole host of them for you here. Grab some of these books, and start reading.
Fairy Tale Books: Classic Fairy Tales for Your Youngest Readers
Little Red Riding Hood, by Candice Ransom and illustrated by Tammie Lyon: Little Red Riding Hood journeys through the woods to bring her grandmother a basket of goodies. On the way she encounters a wolf, and she tells the wolf she is headed to her grandma’s home. The wolf beats the child to her destination, quickly changes into grandma’s clothes… and encounters Little Red upon her arrival. You know the rest!
The Three Little Pigs by Mei Matsuoka: What happens when three little pigs build homes of straw, sticks and bricks? Will any of them be able to withstand the big bad wolf? Your children will love this classic fairy tale, and they will want to huff, puff, and blow everything down all around them!
Goldilocks and The Three Bears, by James Marshall: Sometimes, following our noses to the scent of something delicious can get us into a wee bit of trouble! Goldilocks can’t resist a yummy smell, and she lets her curiosity get the best of her when that smell leads her to a little cottage. Does she walk away? Nope — instead she lets herself in. And that’s when the trouble begins.
The Princess and the Pea, by Hans Christian Anderson and illustrated by Jana Christy: This is the story of a prince in search of his true princess and all of the women he encounters as he tries to find a suitable wife. Something is just wrong with all these women, though, and its hard to determine if they are even true princesses! But when a young woman arrives at the palace one night, soaked from the rain and in search of shelter, the queen has a trick up her sleeve to determine if this is woman is the one her prince has been waiting for. For a magical retelling of The Princess and the Pea set in Africa, make sure to check out The Princess and the Pea by Rachel Isadora. While not necessarily the “classic,” tale, it’s by far my favorite!
Fairy Tale Books: Beautifully Illustrated Classic Fairy Tales
The Ugly Duckling, by Hans Christian Anderson and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney: This is the journey of one little duckling who is the homeliest bird in the barnyard. He’s repeatedly picked on by the other animals, and one day he’s had enough… so he runs away. While on his journey, the ugly duckling finds his own sense of self and strength, and eventually, he blooms into a graceful, magnificent swan.
Cinderella, by Marcia Brown: Cinderella is more beautiful than her evil step-sisters, but she is forced into a life of nothing but housework by her evil step-mother. Oh, how she longs to go to the Prince’s ball! Her step-sisters taunt her and tell her she would simply be laughed at in her rags. With the arrival of her fairy godmother, however — one who can turn pumpkins into golden coaches and rags into riches — Cinderella’s dreams may come true after all!
Beauty and the Beast, by Robert Sabuda: If you love pop ups and you love Beauty and the Beast, don’t walk, run to the bookstore (or just click on the link here!) for this stunning and intricate version of the tale we all know and love. With gorgeous pop-ups of the beast, a foreboding castle and a beautiful rose garden, you will fall in love with this exquisite version of the classic fairy tale.
Rapunzel, by the Brothers Grimm and illustrated/adapted by Paul O. Zelinsky: This beautiful retelling of Rapunzel leave readers both breathless and enthralled. Why? Because when you pick up this beautiful book, you are in the hands of a master storyteller who captivates you from the very first page. Your kids will gasp when Rapunzel is taken away, delight in her gorgeous mane of hair, and rejoice when she is reunited with her prince. What more could you ask for in a fairy tale?
Hansel and Gretel, by Hollie Hobbie: “Who dares to nibble at my delicious house?” When a woodcutter and his naughty wife abandon Hansel and Gretel in the forest, the children are scared and hopeless. Until, that is, they come across a house made of sweets! But, uh oh, the owner of the house isn’t nearly as kind as she appears. Can Gretel save herself and her brother from the hungry witch?
Children’s Fairy Tale Books: Fractured Fairy Tales Based on Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, as Retold by Mo Willems: This fractured fairy tale is hilarious, and if your kids know the original story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, they will absolutely love this brilliant retelling about Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur… and another dinosaur who just so happened to be visiting from Norway. LOL!! One day, the three dinosaurs decided to tidy up their house and make chocolate pudding. They were definitely, most definitely not, trying to set a trap for one unsuspecting little girl. Or were they?
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, by Natasha Yim and illustrated by Grace Zong: It’s Chinese New Year! And Goldy’s mother wants her to take a plate of turnip cakes to their neighbors, the Chans. But when Goldy arrives, the door is open and no one is home. Goldy, undeterred, walks on in and finds three bowls of congee — and then helps herself to a bite! She then decides she needs a rest… and comes upon one disaster after another. Will Goldy find a way to still have a lucky start to the new year?
Goldilocks and Just The One Bear, by Leigh Hodgkinson: Goldilocks and Baby Bear — reunited? This take on the traditional Goldilocks tale iis adorable, describing what happens when Baby Bear finds himself in Goldilocks’ apartment years after their initial “incident.” Only, Goldilocks is no longer a little girl… she’s a mom, with a child of her own! What will happen when Baby Bear is found sleeping in Goldilocks’ daughter’s bed? Will the two old “friends” remember each other from their younger days?
Children’s Fairy Tale Books: Fractured Fairy Tales Based on Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red, by Bethan Woollvin: Little Red is one tough cookie, in this fierce adaptation that features one strong little girl. In this story, Little Red shows no fear and is not easily deceived by the wolf. To the contrary, this girl takes matters into her own hands, saving herself and her grandmother from the world. Who needs the old woodcutter anyway?!?
Little Red Gliding Hood, by Tara Lazar and illustrated by Troy Cummings: Little Red needs a new pair of ice skates! In order to get new skates, though, she must win a “pairs competition.” But the dish is already paired with the spoon and Hansel is already paired with Gretel, and there is no one left but the Big Bad Wolf. Those eyes, and those teeth?? Well, they may be exactly what Little Red needs to spin into first place!
Little Red Writing, by Joan Holub and illustrated by Melissa Sweet: It’s hard to write a story, and in this clever adaptation of the traditional fairy tale, one red pencil is working her way through the perils associated with doing just that. Armed with a basket of nouns and wandering the story path, Little Red tries hard to find a story that will allow her to be courageous and bold. With clever word play, fabulous illustrations and many creative puns, this fractured fairy tale will have budding authors eagerly searching for their own stories and playing with words as they brainstorm.
Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion, by Alex T. Smith: Uh oh. Little Red’s auntie has broken out in spots, and she needs medicine, stat! Set in Africa, Little Red sets off on her journey to Auntie’s home, and along the way she encounters a lion. But Little Red is no fool — she knows just what lion wants— and she may be the only one who can tame his ways and change his naughty behavior. Delightful!
Children’s Fairy Tale Books: Fractured Fairy Tales Based on The Three Little Pigs
The Three Ninja Pigs, by Corey Rosen Schwartz: There is no way these tough pigs are going to let some wolf blow their houses down. So what do they do to prepare for his arrival? They take aikido, jujitsu and karate lessons, of course! We love this inventive tale — and most of all, we love that it is the sister pig’s fancy footwork that saves the day. Corey Rosen Schwartz is a master of the fractured fairy tale, and we also absolutely adore Ninja Red Riding Hood by this same awesome team!
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, by John Sczieska: Even the big bad wolf has a story to tell, and in this hilarious spin on The Three Little Pigs, the wolf gets to share his thoughts. And if you want the real story, the real story is about Alexander T. Wolf. And it all began with a sneeze — and a cup of sugar.
The Three Pigs, by David Wiesner: It starts off familiar enough, with three little pigs gathering different materials to build themselves homes. But then the wolf comes along, and all of his huffing and puffing blows the first pig right out of the story! Uh oh. This classic fairy tale book gets quite an imaginative spin as the characters go on one fantastical adventure. Illustrations to delight and a mesmerizing visual narrative make this fractured fairy tale so much fun!
Children’s Fairy Tale Books: Fractured fairy Tales – Cinderella
Interstellar Cinderella, by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Meg Hunt: Ever wonder what would happen if the Cinderella story took place somewhere far off in the galaxy? Wonder no more! Whoever said girls didn’t have a knack for repairs and engineering certainly never met Interstellar Cinderella, because this gal can do it all. And when the royal spaceship has engine troubles, she is the only one who can come to the prince’s rescue. The prince falls in love, of course. But does Cinderella want to be his wife? Nah. She’d much rather be the royal mechanic, thank you very much!
Seriously, Cinderella is so Annoying!, by Trisha Speed Shaskan and illustrated by Gerald Claude Guerlais: It’s time Cinderella’s evil stepmother gets a turn to tell her story, and that’s exactly what you’ll get with this entertaining book! Sure, you all may think Cinderella is perfect and sweet and charming. The belle of the ball, right? Well, just wait until you hear what she’s really like! Everyone’s favorite evil stepmom has the real story, right here.
Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella, by Jan Brett: Poor Cinders is the most picked on chicken in the whole pen. With her ragged wing tips and wet feathers, it would take a miracle for anyone to think she was beautiful… a miracle, or a fairy godmother in the form of a beautiful silkie hen, of course! When the ball arrives and the royal prince cockerel takes one look at the transformed Cinders, all ends well, of course. And the exquisite, rich illustrations make this one as magical for the reader as it is for Cinders!
Cinder Edna, by Ellen Jackson and illustrated by Kevin O’Malley: Cinder Edna and Cinderella live next door to each other, and both are tasked with doing all the worst chores. Edna learns quite a lot from her labor, and she certainly doesn’t need the help of a fairy godmother when she needs rescuing. She can rescue herself, in fact, and when the royal ball rolls around, Edna doesn’t need glass slippers- she’s got her own trusty loafers! Cinder Edna may end up living happily ever after— but not at all how you might think!
Children’s Fairy Tale Books: Fractured Fairy Tales – Miscellaneous!
It’s Not Hansel and Gretel, by Josh Funk and Edwardian Taylor: What happens when Hansel and Gretel won’t listen to the storyteller? When they have faith that their parents won’t abandon them, think leaving bread crumbs is a silly idea (who keeps bread crumbs, after all?!) and believe there’s no possible way someone evil can live in a house made of sweets? I’ll tell you what happens. Things get all sorts of ridiculous, especially when characters from other fairy tales arrive. Don’t they know they are in the wrong story? We love everything Josh Funk does, and his other fractured fairy tale, It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk, is so much fun as well!
Falling for Rapunzel, by Leah Wilcox and illustrated by Lydia Monks: You know you’ve got a winner on your hands when a fractured fairy tale is written in fabulous rhyme, contains fun wordplay, and has kiddos laughing out loud on every page! After all, when Rapunzel is asked to let down her hair and she mistakes the request for underwear, it’s pretty much impossible to not have great fun with a story. We love this silly tale!
Reading Beauty, by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Meg Hunt: Any fractured fairy tale that takes a damsel in distress and turns that trope upside down is absolutely fantastic in my eyes! Here, a fairy’s curse threatens to make the kingdom barren of all books. But space princess Lex refuses to let this happen. Instead? This mighty girl will do everything she can to break the devastating spell and bring books — magical books — back to all of the people. LOVE!
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, by Jon Sciezska and illustrated by Lane Smith: This book takes all of the traditional fairy tales and turns them on their heads. With tales titled “Little Red Running Shorts,” “The Really Ugly Duckling,” and “Cinderumpelstiltskin,” you know you’re in the hands of an unconventional storyteller who will get a little bit wild and have a whole lot of fun – especially when the text and illustrations play off each other in delightful ways. Such a treat!