In all the slickness of the modern world and with my kids’ gut-level avoidance of “old” movies and books, I’m always so surprised by their love of traditional fables and fairy-tales. Their most beloved book (together) growing up was this random book of fables that used to make regular appearances at bedtime. They loved to read that book together. Still, when I put some fables and fairy tales into our fifth grade curriculum for my son, I wasn’t sure he would enjoy them. Lo and behold, he loved reading Grimms’ Fairy Tales. (We read the Puffin’s classics version. We will also be reading Hans Christen Andersen’s Fairy Tales, The Blue Fairy Book, and Aesop’s Fables before the end of the year.) Perhaps he wouldn’t want to announce it to his friends or have a fairy tale birthday party, but there’s something about these old stories that has always captured the attention and imagination of my children.
There’s some moments. Because the stories are old, there are some culture chasms that just won’t be spanned. Most of them, in this book, are laughable, which is good. I mean, some of the stories are just truly bizarre and follow no pattern of character or plot that we can identify. On the other hand, there is a history of the fables in our Puffin Classics volume which I would recommend reading first, and it helps to account for some of the oddities: these were oral stories gathered by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm from out-of-the-way places, translated into written form in a number of different ways. They’re also not as dark or violent as modern people are wont to make them out to be in intellectual conversation, or at least the ones in the Puffin Classics volume aren’t. That volume is not a complete compilation, but a curated collection.
Just read them, enjoy them, laugh at them, talk about them. They’re classics, and my kids, for one, love them.
If you want to then make a leap to more modern stuff, there is a deep library of books, shows, and movies based on the old stories. Some of them are a stretch, and there is almost no end to all the currently available fractured fairy tale stuff. And of course, there are a zillion illustrated versions of the actual fairy tales, which I won’t go into listing, as well as getting your hands on a complete collection of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Just head to any library or bookstore.
To recommend a few things:
- The Princess and the Frog (Disney movie, 2009)
- Into the Woods (movie, 2014)
- Cinderella (Disney movie, 1950)
- Cinderella (movie, 2015)
- Ever After (movie, 1998)
- Snow White (Disney movie, 1937)
- Mirror, Mirror (movie, 2012)
- Sleeping Beauty (Disney movie, 1959)
- Meleficent (movie, 2014)
- Hoodwinked (animated movie, 2005)
- Shrek series, (movies, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010)
- Tangled (2010)
- Red Riding Hood (movie, 2011, for much older kids)
- Once Upon a Time (TV series, 2011-2018)
- Grimm (TV series, 2011-2017, for grown-ups)
- The Brothers Grimm (movie, 2005)
- A Tale Dark and Grimm (book, Adam Gidwitz)
- The Sisters Grimm series (MG books, Michael Buckley)
- Cinder series (YA books, Marinda Meyer)