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 Cinderella – Story about a young girl doing all the housework was considered outdated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.
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.