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Should We Read Fairy Tales To Our Kids?

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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.

Should we read fairy tales to our kids?

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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 InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

Comments:

11 responses to “Should We Read Fairy Tales To Our Kids?”

  1. All of us have grown up with some kind of fairy tale or other. Every culture has its own version of fairy tales. As you have rightly said it is ultimtely how you get it interpreted.

  2. Sweetannu says:

    I think fairy tales encourage children to imagine and help creative thinking. However it’s how we tell it to our children that also counts.

  3. Mayuri6 says:

    There should be no harm in reading Fairy Tales to kids. These stories spur their imagination and make them think.

  4. freemindtree says:

    Yes I agree most fairy tales are good but some are highly gender biased. Plus correclty said my son loved a certain kind of book earlier and now his preference has changed

  5. I read all sorts of books to kids. We have passed the fairy tales phase and read more interesting books now.

  6. Agree that some fairytales are stereotypes showing women weak. We should look for more books that inspires them

  7. Varsh says:

    Fairy tales spark curiosity amongst kids but I agree with the stereotyping they come with. I read to my kids but also emphasize that gender is never a constraint to do anything.

  8. Deepika says:

    My daughter loves to read fairy tales. She is fond of books and reading. We should choose the book according to our kid’s interest. Later we can go for another one too. They will enjoy.

  9. Reading fairytales in a perspective manner will make kids to think more. Cindrella also took decision to go the ball irrespective of her mother choice and that was huge decision. I liked the movie Cindrella which shows her with a brave face.

  10. Pinal Shah says:

    I used to read some of the fairy tales to my child. Now they have passed that age and read other books. But he loved reading the fairy tales books. It used to create a curiosity among him. Even once we had prepared the story-line of Goldilocks and Three Bears ourselves.

  11. Snigdha says:

    Fairy tales are great books to encourage the imaginary skill of kids . I too make my din read fairy tale books.

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