Friday, March 9, 2012

Very Scary Fairy Tales

Many of the world's most beloved fairy tales have been around for centuries. Millions of children were raised on stories filled with wolves, witches, giants, and death. But according to a new study completed by a British television channel, more and more parents are choosing to skip these stories at bedtime.

The Daily Mail reports that some of the books most commonly left on the shelves include Rumpelstiltskin and Rapunzel because kidnapping is the centerpiece of their storylines. And, Little Red Riding Hood -- that Big Bad Wolf is too gruesome when he gobbles up Red's grandma. A staggering one-third of parents reported that their children were actually brought to tears by the scene.

Having personally read the Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, I can attest to the fact that the true versions of these stories are hardly the innocent, safe bedtime tales that Disney makes them out to be. However, I can't help but wonder if taking fairy tales completely out of our children's lives is the best answer. First off, the stories found in the Brother's Grimm really are a part of the foundation of Western literature and culture. The stories are so ingrained in us and our literature that I can't imagine removing them. Also, should it really be our goal to completely remove violence from our children's lives? Maybe it would be better to take the time to explain these stories to them rather than removing them completely.

What do you think? Will you read these stories to your children? Or is it time for us to put Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rumplestiltskin on the adult shelf?


A Colorful World said...

You know, I have such mixed feelings about fairy tales. They are part of our heritage, and I never remember being particularly frightened or disgusted by them! BUT they are pretty scary and gruesome at times. I think the acknowledgement that there is evil in the world to deal with, and that the end can be a happy one, is what drove them in the beginning and has kept them alive. The classic struggle between good and evil is the oldest theme of life as well as literature. Maybe that's why they have endured.

hopeinbrazil said...

It's interesting that you should write this post just after I read Jane Yolen's book Touch Magic. In it she talks of these scary fairy tales as "tough" magic, meaning that huge prices were often paid for doing good (or doing evil) in these stories. She said the Disney magic was too "easy" and unreal. Interesting topic!