Fairy tales . . are they scary?

My mother read me all the fairy tales and I loved them.  I read them to my own children, and they too loved them.

However according to a recent report:

One in five British parents has stopped reading fairy tales to their young children because they're too scary, a recent survey suggests.  The survey, by a U.K. TV network, suggests some parents are giving up the likes of Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk for more modern books such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  The most common reason given for sparing the kids these older stories was that they were too scary, but some parents also said they were "outdated" or too "unrealistic. . . . Almost half the parents in the survey said they refused to read Rumpelstiltskin or Rapunzel because the stories included kidnapping and bargaining with children.   About one third of the mothers and fathers said that the story of Little Red Riding Hood left their children in tears because the Big Bad Wolf ate the little girl's grandmother.  

Some of the parents in the survey said that Goldilocks and the Three Bears wasn't appropriate because it condoned stealing.  But it wasn't just violence and crime some parents objected to. Many of the parents considered Jack and the Beanstalk to be "too unrealistic. . . . More than half of the survey's respondents wouldn't read Cinderella because of its portrayal of a young woman doing all the housework. Similarly, some parents wouldn't read Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs because they thought the word "dwarfs" was inappropriate. (source)

Are we becoming too precious and sheltering our children too much?  Personally I think we are and this isn’t always a good thing.  Are they any different to "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" which I thought was scary when first read to me!

Do you read these stories to your children? Do they enjoy them?  

Interestedly, my mother owned a book containing the “original” Grimms Fairy Tale stories and I once read the original story of Cinderella, the version we have all grown up with is a watered down version of the original which is far more blood curdling and dark and certainly scarier than the modern tales.  


  1. I loved fairy tales as a child!

    I remember reading somewhere that the modern versions are much nicer than the originals - the old ones were much darker and more gruesome.

  2. Its true Jenny - I once read the original Grimms Cinderalla and discovered that feet were mutilated in the attempt to fit the golden slipper. It was pretty gruesome!!! However the ones we grew up with were fine as far as I am concerned.

  3. Fairy tales were originaly for adults & thus far scarier than many parents like. I read, was read to & read to my children fairy tales. I do not object. It is a way to teach processing & dealing with fears in a safe way. Mind you the Little Mermaid [original version] scared the life out of me as a child. The thing that irks me is that often the parents who object most monitor least when it comes to tv viewing. You know where this is going, don't you? 'Nuff said. Different generation but banning fairy tales is not only silly it's hypocritical.

  4. Love the classic fairy tales. A lot of the them are a true depiction of good & evil and really do help children see right from wrong. We read them, I have not long finished most of Grimms fairy tales to my 7yo daughter and having never read them myself as a young girl I thoroughly enjoyed them, as did my dd! xxx

  5. Hello Joluise,
    I read fairy tales as a child and read them to my children and grand children.I think they are a valuable way to teach 'right from wrong' and the difference between 'real and pretend'. Banning is unnecessary in my opinion. Have a good week
    God Bless
    Barb from Australia

  6. I'm in two minds here. I don't think having them read to me did any harm to me, but I think we grew up in a less threatening society. There have always been good and evil and various ways of portraying it I guess. Some of the rhymes we learned as children I just don't say to my kids/ grandkids. Here's one I particularly don't like.
    "-------------(insert child's name) he's no good, chop him up for fire wood!" Just can't bring myself to repeat that one!
    I am probably a bit sooky in this area! A lot of kids television and so called cartoons are also very dark and dismal. My children were very sensitive about haunting music etc.

  7. I don't think withholding these stories from our children is about sheltering them. I don't provide my children with fairy tales to read (although they have read or heard about the stories from other people/places), for several reasons:

    - Many of them contain devilish beings (witches etc), which I don't believe should be part of a child's entertainment.

    - The stories aren't nice and at best teach a vague moral.

    - The original stories where today's versions come from are about violent acts, rape, mutilation, murder, cannibalism and who knows what else - which I don't believe is a good origin for any kind of story a child should read.

    I'd rather my children read Bible stories or clean stories that don't have such origins - no matter how watered down today's versions of the fairy tales are! Some might argue that the Bible contains gruesome stories too - but the Bible stories are God-breathed, which means God recorded them for a holy purpose - unlike the fairy tales!! :)

  8. Speaking from a historical perspective, fairytales were vehicles for parents to warn their children of the dangers of the world out there. I would argue that they could actually be very effective teaching tools about the dangers of vanity (the original Cinderella, in terms of the step sisters cutting off toes), trusting strangers, etc. As a child I grew up hearing fairy tales in first the gentle form, and then the more historical gruesome form, and I loved them!

  9. To answer the question are they scary - in our experience it hasn't been.....dd has a very very vivid imagination and things she sees on the screens are much scarier than fairy tales. We read the original ones not the watered down versions too:) I think when we read them as adults we have much more in our minds and imaginations to "hang things on" and so it has a different impact on us than our kids who don't have that.


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