A study sponsored by the television channel Watch shows that modern parents are resistant to sharing traditional fairy tales with their children.
It doesn’t surprise me at all that one in five read modern books rather than Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. But in the list that follows, the reasons are bizarre to me:
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 Cinderella – Story about a young girl doing all the housework was considered outdated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
Out of the 2000 parents polled, one quarter of them would not “consider reading a fairytale to their child until they had reached the age of five, as they prompt too many awkward questions.”
Here is where I begin to tear my hair out. The entire point of fairy tales and folk tales is that they touch on darkness and evil just enough to get a good scare going but not enough to terrify. A good chase by a giant down a beanstalk and the frantic chopping to save yourself. Rapunzel’s incredible hair and then the blinding of the prince in the thorny bushes below. Hansel and Gretel shoving that witch into her own oven and then the final step of latching the oven door.
I love all of it. I used to read my book of Grimm’s stories over and over again, and it had stories that were even more strange and alarming that I loved even more. I adored The Goose Girl with its grizzly ending. Snow White and Rose Red was another favorite that I loved because of the circular nature of the story and the blooming roses. The strange Clever Elsie and other tales about wisdom and foolishness, I found captivating. Thumbelina was one I turned to many times with its enchanting flowers and fairies counterpointed with the mole and darkness.
So what do you think? Are the stories too dark for our modern children? Was I just a rather strange young child to adore them so? And if you too have a love for Grimm and Andersen, what were your favorite stories?