A new survey of 2,000 parents found that two-thirds refuse to read several famous fairy tales to their kids because they’re too scary.
These are the 10 fairy tales that have been banned by the most parents.
1. Hansel and Gretel – Storyline about two abandoned kids is thought likely to scare children
2. Jack and the Beanstalk – Deemed too ‘unrealistic’
3. Gingerbread Man – Parents uncomfortable explaining gingerbread man gets eaten by fox
4. Little Red Riding Hood – Deemed unsuitable by parents who must explain a girl’s grandmother has been eaten by a wolf
5. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – The term ‘dwarves’ was found to be inappropriate
6. Cinderella – Story about a young girl doing all the housework was considered outdated
7. Rapunzel – Parents were worried about the focus on a young girl being kidnapped
8. Rumpelstiltskin – Parents unhappy reading about executions and kidnapping
9. Goldilocks and the Three Bears – Parents say it sends the wrong messages about stealing
10.Queen Bee – Deemed inappropriate as the story has a character called Simpleton
Now I’ll admit my 4 year old gets scared by the oddest things. Finding Nemo‘s sharks spook him. So do the characters in Monsters Inc, and The Princess and the Frog. Even the scene in Puss In Boots where Humpty Dumpty died had him in tears last night. When that happens, we take it as a teaching lesson to explain pretend and make-believe and story-telling.
But it’s not fairy tales are particularly scary that has them not a part of our night night routine, it’s
because, um, well – they suck.
They’re old. They’re boring.
When it comes to bedtime for my kids, we go to the library and bring home dozens of fresh books each week. Stories about Skippy Jon Jones, and anything by Oliver Jeffers are routine in our house.
Now we do read some classics – Caps For Sale makes my kids giggle. Dr Seuss‘s big book of classic tales will always have a space on the shelf, but some just don’t hold up.
Try reading the beginning of the original Curious George. The part where the Man in the Yellow Hat goes to Africa and steals George to sell him to a zoo. The idea of a man having a monkey as a pet is hilarious, and Curious George makes a great mischievous foil for the behaviour of pre-schoolers, but the original tale just doesn’t hold up.
Same for Charlie Brown. We watched the Halloween and Christmas specials with our kids this year and were shocked at how Charlie is bullied, how many times the word “stupid” or “blockhead” is used and how there are no repercussions. The Nazi imagery in Snoopy‘s dreams were a little much too take as well.
While the ancient messages of fairy tales and classic books may have been great for the era, I don’t see a particular problem replacing them with modern stories working along the same moral themes.
Do you read any classics or fairy tales to your kids?
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I love Caps For Sale!!!
One of the most memorable units I ever learned from in elementary school was in grade 3: Multicultural, twisted, and fractured fairy tales
We read The Stinky Cheese Man (a twisted version of The Gingerbread Man), and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs (by Jon Scieszka) as well as different cultural versions of Cinderella (German, Chinese, French)
nowadays after a unit like that the kids could watch SHREK and notice that they catch all the references to Puss in Boots, the Three Little Pigs, Pinocchio, etc.
And COME ON, the reasons cited make me shake my head and say “Good Grief!!” Jack and the Beanstalk – Deemed too ‘unrealistic’ ? Early Childhood Educators know that imagination play is a HUGE part of development. Jack and the beanstalk teaches kids about plants growing, about BIG vs. small… and there’s a Robert Munsch book that makes me think you could do a whole unit on Giants and folklore (Europe’s legends say that Giants walked and made the lakes and rivers with their footprints) : David’s Father by Robert Munsch (Julie discovers that her new friend’s father is a giant)
I’m 25 now, and those are the books that I remember loving learning about.
Also, Buzz, your kids sound like they’ve definitely caught the reading bug!! Nice work!