By Bianca Smith • February 26, 2018
Everyone loves a fairy tale. They were some of the first stories we fell in love with and taught us right from wrong. Cinderella taught us that hard work gets the rewards. We learned stranger danger from Little Red Riding Hood. And Hansel and Gretel showed us that using our smarts can save our lives. Children for generations have been asking for these stories night after night.
Unfortunately, these weren't the only lessons we learned from fairy tales. We learned that for girls we had to be pretty, and the prince is THE prize. That being bookish makes us social outcasts (don't take the pitchforks to Gaston. He's wrong and fictional). We learned that a girl's role is to wait and hope her prince will come. And a personal favorite, a woman is only worthy if she's delicate and prone to bruises, according to The Princess and the Pea.
Fortunately, fairy tales evolve. We know of the gruesome Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen was as macabre. In the original story, The Little Mermaid, Ariel doesn't win the prince's heart and takes her own life. It's the Disney re-telling that adds sunshine and sparkles along with now outdated ideals. But we said fortunately. New versions are written all the time, and they are the ones we want to read and celebrate for Tell a Fairy Tale Day. These are the ones where the princess takes control, and the relationships are equal. There's even forgiveness for nasty behavior.
Here are a few modern fairy tales that entertain and give little boys and girls positive role models as they fall asleep.
This story has the same outline and main essence as the original story, but with some nice tweaks. The ball is an ice cream party, making it more relatable to youngsters. Also, the ugly step-sisters have ugly behavior but not ugly looks. The bright colors also make a modern change to traditional illustrations.
Older children will adore Roald Dahl adding the gruesome back into fairy tales. There are beheadings and rejections and never mess with Little Red Riding Hood. There are twists and turns, told in rhyme. If you think we're exaggerating remember this is written by the same man who created such horrible punishments for naughty children in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
To be fair, Goldilocks and the Three Bears hasn't dated that much and the endings have evolved (no more physical punishments for stealing porridge). In this telling, the cottage in the woods has been relocated to a Chinese-American community, and the bears are pandas. While being very similar to the original story, there's rice porridge and futons...and a happily ever after.
Imagine how different the story would be if the Wolf had ninja skills? That's what happened here, except all the forest animals have been becoming ninjas. What should be a simple attack on a little girl and her grandma doesn't quite go as planned. Fans of Ninja Red Riding Hood will also like the companion book, The Three Ninja Pigs, to see where they learned to be ninjas.
Wait, what? Three dinosaurs? Of course with Mo Willems writing nothing will be as expected. In the house, there is Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur...and a Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway. It's the traditional story, with the addition of snark and some hilarious illustrations. Pro tip: read this alone before reading with children, then you'll laugh less at the hilarious story in front of the children.
What would happen if Cinderella met the prince while fixing his spaceship? Without giving too much away, Cinderella wears the pants and offers a compromise to marriage. It's a happily ever after with a difference that spans the entire universe.