Fairy tales are stories filled with humor, suspense, magic, and adventure. And that’s why they are an instant hit among our children.
When I was looking for book recommendations for A&A online, I came across a very interesting article that mentioned that “fairy tales are riddled with prejudicial and archaic stereotypes“. They mostly depict women in distress, being rescued by men. Stories like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty depict a woman’s helplessness and may perpetuate damaging ideologies. And hence we should not read fairy tales to kids.
Honestly, I have grown up reading fairy tales myself and always enjoyed them. They were the stories that sparked my imagination and made me think beyond expected boundaries (of time and place). I found them fascinating and their happy endings always brought a smile on my face.
However, I do agree that some fairy tale stories are laden with stereotypes and perpetuate misogynist ideologies. So we should be a little careful while picking up a fairy tale book for our kids.
While reading a fairy tale story to A&A, I keep two things in mind –
1. What We Read
They are 4 years old now and fairy tales like Goldilocks and Three Bears, Jack and The Beanstalk, Ginger BreadMan, Three Little Pigs, etc are the ones that they enjoy. However, when I read the same books to them two years back (when they were around 2 years old), they didn’t like them. In fact those fox and wolves of the story were scary creatures and watching them even in the books would terrify them. So one important factor that I feel is very important to consider is to choose the right fairy tale book as per the age, understanding and maturity level of the children.
2. How We Read
This is crucial. I try to keep the entire session light and read in a fun way (so that even the most scary beast doesn’t come across as that scary). Also at the end of each story we try to discuss its moral/ message and come up with a simple interpretation. I always try to keep the interpretation positive and age-appropriate. So the message that three little pigs give is ‘hard work always pays off’ and also that ‘there is strength in unity.’. And moral to learn from Gingerbread man is ‘not to trust or go with strangers’.
For now I haven’t yet read the story of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, etc to them. I still feel they are a little young to understand these stories (or it’s moral implications). But if you ask me will I ever read these stories to them? Then the answer is YES.
It is true than some of these fairy tales are laden with stereotypes and patriarchal beliefs. However I will still read these stories to my kids – not to endorse these beliefs but to question them.
As it is said, ‘good can’t exist without evil’, so to understand what’s good you first need to know what’s evil, right? Only then you can contradict or question it? So Yes, I will read these fairy tales my kids. May be after they turn 5 or so or when I feel they have gained that level of maturity to understand or even question the serious issues implied in these tales.
I personally feel books are a great way to broaden the mindset of our kids and fairy tales (despite the stereotypical ideologies that some of them convey) have a great scope of doing the same. At the end, it all depends upon how we read and interpret them. In fact these same fairy tales can help us raise thinking individuals who know how to question and contradict any false notions or stereotypes and patriarchal beliefs. What do you think?
This post is a part of Blogchatter’s A2Z challenge – #BlogchatterA2Z on the alphabet ‘D’. My theme for this challenge is ‘Books for Kids’. You can find all 26 posts on this topic under the hashtags #themomsagas_books on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.